Texas Republicans scrambled last week to repair intraparty divisions after advisers to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) lashed out at a pre-K initiative as “godless,” even though it had been backed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
In his State of the State Address, the first emergency item that Abbott called on the Legislature to tackle was improving early education.
But tea party activists who were appointed to a Grassroots Advisory Board by Patrick after he took office in January charged in a letter that pre-K was against the principle of a free society because children should get their early education in churches and at home.
“We are experimenting at great cost to taxpayers with a program that removes our young children from homes and half-day religious preschools and mothers’ day out programs to a Godless environment with only evidence showing absolutely NO LONG-TERM BENEFITS beyond the 1st grade,” the letter insisted, according to The Associated Press.
Although Abbott has said that he has bipartisan support for his plan, many Democrats have called the proposal a half-measure because it does not expand pre-K in Texas, which is only offered to low-income and military households. Abbott’s proposal would only provide money for improving existing programs.
But the Grassroots Advisory Board argued that Abbott’s modest proposal amounted to government intrusion.
“This interference by the state tramples upon our parental rights,” the group said. “The early removal of children from parents’ care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not free societies which respect parental rights.”
In an effort to mend relations with the governor, Patrick released a statement saying that he did not authorize the letter.
“I look forward to working with the Senators, the House and the Governor in the coming weeks to create a comprehensive package that includes A-F, parent trigger, opportunity districts, online learning, school choice and a pre-K program that’s good for Texas,” Patrick said. “Together, these bills will have a positive impact on education in Texas.”
Watch the video below from KHOU, broadcast April 27, 2015.