January 25, 2006
Bell hits Strayhorn on vouchers


Since 2000, James Leininger, a major donor of the voucher movement, has made four contributions to Mrs. Strayhorn totaling $100,000. In addition, he secured a loan of $950,000 to then-Carole Keeton Rylander’s first campaign for comptroller. In return, she supported a 1999 voucher measure and signed a letter using the Comptroller’s state seal to raise money for a Leininger-founded, pro-voucher think tank.

Then last Friday, Mrs. Strayhorn attacked Rick Perry because he supports publicly funded, private-school vouchers, saying, "We're either going to have public education or we're not, and Rick Perry looks to vouchers as the only solution to a public school system that he has doomed to failure." (Associated Press, Jan. 20, 2006)

"It’s not enough to be right about Rick Perry being completely wrong about vouchers," said Bell. "What Texas needs is a leader it can trust to never support what I believe would be the biggest cop-out in American history. She says, ‘Vouchers are off the table.’ Vouchers were on the table in the first place in part because of her support, and anyone who claims to be a friend of teachers should have the conviction that vouchers will never be part of the solution."

James Leininger is the godfather of the voucher movement in Texas. As is the case with Bob Perry, he stopped giving to Strayhorn in 2003, about the time Strayhorn started opposing Rick Perry. It's only now, of course, that Strayhorn says she opposes vouchers - at least, she opposes them at this time. Once the school finance mess is settled, who knows? This isn't an ideological change of heart as far as I can tell, it's opportunism. Successful opportunism, as the TSTA endorsement shows, but opportunism nonetheless. I hope the rank and file in the TSTA aren't as easily dazzled.

UPDATE: Here's the Chron story on this. A little Google news searching tells me Bell's gotten some mileage out of his criticism. One interesting bit:

TSTA spokesman Richard Kouri said the group's leaders believed Strayhorn, but added, "Time will tell."

So what does that mean? That you think that maybe she's not truly changed her mind, and could go back to her original beliefs once the initial finance crisis has passed? Way to go on the due diligence, dude.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 25, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Would be I off topic if I link to the due diligence Matt Angle did on Henry Cuellar regarding vouchers? Another candidate trying to have it both ways...

Posted by: Andre Pineda on January 25, 2006 9:55 AM

So Strayhorn is a newcomer to the anti-voucher side. Welcome! You don't trust her sudden support for public education over vouchers? Well, before Bell ran for governor, he never showed any interest in state affairs -- NONE AT ALL. Maybe we should distrust his sudden interest as well.

Maybe we should never trust a politician who changes their mind about anything at all. Wouldn't that be a swell political world to live in, one where no one can grow or change their mind about anything, one where we never have to worry about anyone compromising and getting things done?

Posted by: Dalicious on January 25, 2006 10:18 AM

Seems the TSTA made a strategic decision based on weighing the odds (1) Strayhorn winning the election and also keeping her promise (or else risking alienating a key consituency that aided her election) versus (2) a Democrat winning.

It's not obvious to me that they made a bad choice.

Posted by: P.M.Bryant on January 25, 2006 10:39 AM