Obama texas
U.S. President Barack Obama holds up a book with a depiction of him as he speaks with 3- to 5-year-old children as he tours the Children's Laboratory School at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, October 4, 2011. - 

Stacey Vanek Smith: Today is primary day in Texas. The presidential race won't be making any news, but teachers will be watching a few key votes to gauge the state's support for schools and students. Last year, the Texas legislature cut nearly $5.5 billion from education. That upset Texas parents, and now education is a big campaign issue.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.



David Gura: The number of students enrolled in Texas schools has gone up every year by about 80,000.

Sherri Greenberg teaches public policy at the University of Texas.

Sherri Greenberg: For the first time, there was a decision made for public education to, in fact, not fund that growth.

Usually in polls, only a small percentage of Texans have said education is the issue they care about the most.

James Henson runs the Texas Politics Project.

James Henson: People that pay attention to education are always waiting for it to be something that moves the needle in a big way.

That may have happened, with last year’s cuts. Carolyn Boyle runs the Texas Parent PAC. That’s a group that endorses candidates -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who make education a priority.

Carolyn Boyle: There is many people who said, 'Enough is enough. We need people coming to the capital in Austin who know about schools, who care about schools, and have courage.'

Boyle says more than 20 candidates are running on their experience in education. And like Boyle, they’re worried about teachers getting laid off and classes getting too big.

I’m David Gura, for Marketplace.

Follow David Gura at @davidgura