Texas Advocacy Group Wields Charter-Policy Power

Monday, May 13, 2013

As his legislation expanding the state’s virtual school network reached the floor of the Texas House in early May, Representative Ken King was focused on what it was not.

“This is not a voucher bill. This is not a vendor bill,” said Mr. King, Republican of Canadian. “I’m the last guy on this floor that’ll ever vote for a voucher.”

That did not reassure several of his colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, who objected to allowing profit-making companies to offer online courses to public school students.

The debate over Mr. King’s bill, which ultimately passed, put the dynamics that have frustrated efforts to pass education overhaul legislation this session on full display. It also demonstrated the influence a single education advocacy group has come to wield over policy decisions.

At one point during the House debate, Representative Abel Herrero, Democrat of Corpus Christi, asked whether that group, Raise Your Hand Texas, a staunch opponent of vouchers, was opposed to the measure.

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