July 14, 2024


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Texas group launches tour as conservatives hone parental ‘empowerment’ as theme ahead of elections


The Texas Public Policy Foundation is launching a Parent Empowerment Tour to energize voters around red-meat education issues — such as critical race theory and a proposed bill of rights for parents.

The conservative group scheduled its first tour stops in Trophy Club and McKinney, featuring Republican candidates for office, including Jeff Younger, the North Texas father involved a highly-publicized custody battle over his child, whose mother says is a transgender girl.

The tour comes just before May’s local school board elections and the statewide November elections, including those for the Legislature. TPPF officials note it is gearing up to push several key priorities in the 2023 legislative session, including bills that would expand “school choice.”

“The response to COVID-19 shined a light on our children’s education like never before, producing more questions and concerns than answers,” Greg Sindelar, the group’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “This tour will provide the answers parents are looking for and set forth a clear path in the 88th Legislature for how we can deliver the changes families are demanding.”

A community member holds a "Erasing history is white supremacy" sign as someone holds a...

In a news release, the group says the tour will provide information about issues like critical race theory, which is an academic framework that probes the way policies and laws uphold systemic racism — such as in education, housing or criminal justice.

Conservative pundits have conflated schools’ equity work — including diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racism training and multicultural curricula — with critical race theory, and used it to fuel a spate of new legislation that restricts what children can learn about race.

TPPF previously laid out some of their top goals for the next session. They announced that among top legislative priorities is removing “barriers that limit where parents can choose to send their kids to school.”

A push for expanded parental rights has become a new rallying cry for Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who is running for reelection.

Governor Greg Abbott signs a cardboard that refers to his Parental Bill of Rights at...

Education and political observers suspect conservatives are laying the groundwork for a renewed push for voucher-like initiatives in 2023. Opponents of the effort are also working to shore up support.

Generally, vouchers funnel taxpayer money that would otherwise support public schools to individual students or families to help offset private school tuition. Other related school choice initiatives include tax credits or education saving accounts that set aside money for tuition or additional services.

Historically, such proposals received support in the more conservative Texas Senate before dying in the House.

Meanwhile, many are honing in on the call. A new group, Liberty For The Kids, rolled out late last month on the single issue of empowering parents, noting the need for school choice.

Among its leaders is former Secretary of Education and Houston ISD Superintendent Rod Paige.

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.


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