Rural Texas wants school choice

Sierra Blanca Independent School District is a small and rural district east of El Paso, Texas, with a single school that serves grades K-12. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, Texas has more than 2,000 campuses classified as being in rural areas.

Editor’s note: This commentary from Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller appeared Thursday on marshallnewsmssenger.com. You can read an exhaustive brief on the subject of rural school choice in Florida from Step Up For Students’ Ron Matus and Dava Hankerson here.

School choice is a human rights issue, no matter where you live. But not all schools are the same.

Rural public schools tend to outperform their urban counterparts for a variety of reasons. The consequence is that politicians often assume that rural voters have less interest in school choice than urban voters.

During the 2022 Texas Republican Primary, the platform plank most enthusiastically and overwhelmingly supported by rural voters was school choice. In that election, Texas Republicans from urban, suburban, and rural parts of the state all voted on Proposition 9 which reads, “Texas parents and guardians should have the right to select schools, whether public or private, for their children, and the funding should follow the student.”

To the shock of the Austin political class, nine out of 10 primary voters supported this proposition, and virtually every county in the state overwhelmingly supported it. Three-quarters of the counties that voted in favor by 95% or higher have populations under 20,000. Of the 67 most supportive counties, 58 have populations under 100,000.

Rural Texans overwhelmingly want education freedom and school choice! In fact, there was no statistical difference in rural and urban votes for this proposition.

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