Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

The 2022 Midterm Elections Were Certainly One for the History Books

The 2022 Midterm Elections Were Certainly One for the History Books

Your Voice | By Mark Wiggins, ATPE Lobbyist

These are statistics that should trouble every Texan: In the 2022 midterm elections, 8.1 million voters cast their ballots, roughly 300,000 fewer than the number who voted in the last midterm elections in 2018. Turnout in 2022 dropped 11 points to just under 42% turnout, compared with a 53% turnout in 2018. Turnout was the lowest since the 2014 midterm elections in which barely a third of registered Texas voters participated. 

Texas set a new record with 9.6 million registered voters declining to participate in the 2022 midterm elections. Election tracker Jeff Blaylock pointed out that combined with those who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote, roughly 11 million Texans who could have voted in 2022 did not do so. 

Those who did participate reelected Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton by double-digit margins. Republicans carried every statewide office, maintaining a Texas tradition dating back to the 1990s.  

What happens next is fairly easy to predict. 

Armed with a perceived mandate, Abbott can be expected to charge full steam ahead on his campaign promise to pass a private school voucher, redirecting desperately needed funding from rural public schools to subsidize the tuition of elite private academies in cities such as Dallas and Houston. 

Under Patrick’s leadership, the Senate will move quickly to send a voucher bill to the House and crank up the pressure on representatives who oppose diverting Texans’ tax dollars to unaccountable private and parochial schools at the expense of the public school down the street.  

Patrick has already offered to “carve out” rural communities in an attempt to pacify the rural Republicans whose school districts would be forced to subsidize vouchers for the suburban country club set. Yet this sleight of hand won’t insulate rural districts from the fiscal consequences of even a limited voucher program. 

The lieutenant governor has in the past held hostage critical legislation regarding school funding and educator compensation to try to force the House’s hand on a voucher bill. It is possible that we may again see important public school legislation held as collateral to pass a voucher bill.  

The founders of Texas knew an educated populace was essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people. Moreover, they felt providing a free education was a moral obligation. That’s why they cemented into our constitution the guarantee of an efficient system of public free schools. 

Vouchers would undermine this fundamental right by dismantling the principles of free and equal access and the constitutional mandate that the Legislature make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of the public school system. 

This upcoming legislative session could well determine whether we get to keep it.  

Fortunately, there is still reason for hope. Pro-public education candidates fared well on Election Day, including several who campaigned on support for public schools. 

These candidates will need our support in the coming months to withstand the withering pressure that will be placed on them to betray the interests of the communities that elected them. Voucher supporters will also need to hear from constituents about the consequences of their vote. 

That makes this year’s ATPE at the Capitol event critically important. Join your colleagues Feb. 20–21 in Austin to share your teacher voice with your elected lawmakers at the Texas Capitol. You’ll get access to legislative training and informational sessions to help you advocate effectively and efficiently. Nothing is more impactful than a face-to-face meeting! Visit for more details. Registration will open in early December. 

In addition to ATPE at the Capitol, educators can always call, email, and write letters to let our elected officials know we won’t stand by as our public school communities come under attack. Be sure to regularly log in to the member-only Advocacy Central page on the ATPE website for the latest contact tools and campaigns. 

Our public schools are the backbones of our communities. They are where we learn, work, gather, and pour our hopes and dreams for each future generation. We will have our work cut out for us defending them this session. We can’t do it without your teacher voice.