The way things look now, four months out from the beginning of the next session of the Texas Legislature, private school vouchers will be back on the table for debate.And it looks like several heavyweight state officials will be sitting on that side of the table, tilting it their way.Voucher plans, in which some parents have access to state money to help send their kids to a private school, didn't play a big role in the 2011 legislative session. But for several sessions before that, vouchers were a perennial favorite of some of the conservative Republicans who held the top leadership posts and a voting majority in both legislative chambers.So, how did voucher proponents manage to lose on that issue every year? Strong lobbying from public school teachers, wise legislative maneuvering by opponents and reluctance among some Republicans to fully embrace the idea all played a role.Now a lot of things are different, maybe different enough to see a voucher bill approved and sent to Gov. Rick Perry.That would be a mistake. Vouchers would take badly needed money away from public schools.But if the table is already weighted that way, maybe the best thing voucher opponents can do is figure out what kind of voucher bill they can live with and try to move the process in that direction.In the past, some voucher proponents saw the strength of their opposition or at least the weakness of their support and said all they wanted was a "pilot" program.Or they avoided using the word vouchers altogether and said they were pushing for "opportunity scholarships."That latter idea at times was confined to a plan that would allow students at schools that consistently fell short of state accountability standards to transfer to another public school or to a private school with public assistance.But in the time since the legislative battle on vouchers was last joined, the Texas political landscape has changed dramatically.The message from this year's Republican primary elections was clear: Don't just be conservative, be ultra-conservative, even Tea Party conservative.Perry long has been a voucher proponent. Maybe even more than that, he's an astute reader of the political wind. At the Republican National Convention this past week, he again emphasized vouchers ("school choice" is the favored term).Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, smarting from his loss to Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in the race for a U.S. Senate seat nomination, also pointed to his support for vouchers during a talk to convention delegates.Monday, Perry named former Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams to be the next head of the Texas Education Agency. Williams also supports vouchers. There are two big shoes still to fall. Dewhurst will name a new chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and House Speaker Joe Straus will pick a new leader of the House Public Education Committee.Both committees have empty seats at the top.One of Dewhurst's options is Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, who recently staged an Education Committee hearing in which voucher supporters began laying out their case.Straus has been less vocal about vouchers, but compared to Perry and Dewhurst and Patrick and Williams, Straus is simply a less-vocal kind of guy.Straus has said education will be at the top of his agenda for the legislative session.It's a safe bet there will be a strong push for vouchers next year. The bigger question now is how much strength the traditional opponents of vouchers will be able to muster.