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Though Not A Top Issue In National Races, Education Figures Strongly In Texas Contests

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Paulo Martins for KUT
Pushes for education reform in Texas aren't new. University of Texas at Austin students rallied in 2011 over potential tuition hikes.

From Texas Standard:

On March 3, Texas and 13 other states will vote in primary elections. That includes choosing which Democrat will face President Donald Trump in November's general election.

In previous years, especially during the 2018 midterms, education was a particularly important issue for Texas voters. And Noel Candelaria, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, says it's an important topic this year, too, especially for members of his association.

He says, for one thing, many of them oppose Trump's a education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and her school voucher program. Vouchers allow families to use public funds to pay for private education.

"I think it's an issue that Texans have overwhelmingly rejected, which is why we don't have vouchers in Texas," Candelaria says. "Both Republicans and Democrats value their public schools. Over 90% of our Texas children are educated in our public schools."

But closer to home, Candelaria says members of his organization, and regular Texans, have other concerns when it comes to education.

He says parents want improvements to public schools. They're "cash-strapped," he says, and parents want smaller class sizes.

"We are still lagging behind the national average when it comes to how we prioritize funding our public schools," Candelaria says.

And he says schools need more mental health services to support students, which also costs money.

Candelaria says if Democrats end up flipping the Texas House of Representatives, it could work in favor of his constituents.

"I think public education is going to take a much more prominent role" if that happens, he says.

Though teachers in Candelaria's association might be more attuned to the way the issue figures into politics, he says many more people are also interested because of how education affects children and their families.

"As we talk to families and voters ... that's one thing that is resonating, is the overall health and impact of their children, and opportunity they want for this children to be able to live a healthy life, a happy life and get the education that they deserve," he says.

Written by Caroline Covington.

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