May 2024


DECODING THE IMPACT How will school vouchers impact local students?

The runoff election for Texas House District 1 is approaching. The candidates are addressing a variety of important issues. Texarkana Magazine has chosen to focus specifically on how implementing a proposed education voucher system in the state of Texas will impact local students. Candidates Chris Spencer and Gary VanDeaver share their insights on this crucial issue.

Early voting runs from May 20 through 24. The polls close with final voting on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Make sure to participate in shaping the future of local schools.

CHRIS SPENCER’S INSIGHT I am a proud product of Texas public schools. Both of our sons are products of Texas public schools. In fact, rural East Texas schools by and large do a fantastic job. The urban schools? Not so much. Urban public schools have become woke indoctrination laboratories that foster confusion among our children and promote class warfare. History books are being changed in order to harmonize with newly evolving cultural shifts. Parents are being ostracized for involving themselves in open forums at school board meetings. Tragically, Texas teachers are forced to spend precious time conducting the STAAR test, time that could be better spent in the classroom. As a state legislator, I would push hard to do away with the STAAR test. I would fully support well-deserved pay raises for teachers. I would support efforts to bring discipline back to the classroom. East Texas parents, in large numbers, believe parents should choose the school best for their child, with their hard-earned tax dollars supporting that decision. Like Governor Abbott, I agree with this. A one-size fits all approach to education doesn’t work. In fact, Austin ISD public schools celebrated pride week during March. Culturally conservative families naturally oppose such celebrations in public school settings. Parents pay taxes and deserve the opportunity to have their tax dollars deployed in educating their children in the school of their choice, whether public, private, charter, or home school. Some say competition is good. This is true in education as well. Fortunately, our East Texas local schools perform at a high level, and parents will most likely continue to educate their kids at the local public school of their choice. Private school options in rural Texas are few, and thus the impact to public schools in those areas will be minimal. But the choice needs to be available to parents.

CHRIS SPENCER Chris Spencer was born in Morris County and spent his early years in both Morris and Cass Counties. He obtained his education from Hughes Springs High School and further pursued his academic endeavors at the University of Texas at Tyler. In recognition of his expertise, Governor Abbott

appointed Chris as the Chairman of the Sulphur River Basin Authority in 2018. This position has allowed him to contribute significantly to the effective management and conservation of the Sulphur River Basin. Outside of his professional pursuits, Chris finds joy in his personal life. He is happily married to his wife, Debbie, and together they cherish the blessings of parenthood. They are proud parents to two sons, Christopher and Eric, who have brought immense happiness and fulfillment to their lives. Additionally, their family has expanded with the loving addition of a daughter-in-law named Kim and their delightful grandson, Camden. Faith plays a central role in Chris and Debbie’s lives, and they actively participate in the vibrant community of the First Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Furthermore, Chris dedicates himself to the growth and spiritual enrichment of others as a group leader in his Bible Study Fellowship based in Longview, Texas.



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