Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, gave the traditional “state of the state” speech before a joint session of the Texas House and Senate on Tuesday, January 29th. Clearly his agenda does not include any help for the public school children of Texas even though funds are at his disposal. “AFT Linda Bridges summed it up in a press comment today: “The governor’s words today on educating children to ‘meet the challenges of the future’ might lead you to think he is proposing to get Texas back on track by investing in our schoolchildren again after the harsh budget cuts that reduced funding by more than $500 annually per pupil last session. The people of Texas, in poll after poll, certainly have made it clear that investing in our five million students in public school is at the top of their budget priority list.”
She goes on to say, “Unfortunately, the governor made it clear today that lawmakers will have to meet the urgent need to invest in our children’s future without more than rhetorical help from him. The governor’s top priorities are tax cuts for businesses and use of the Rainy Day Fund for water and transportation projects. His most notable stated goal for public education is to divert public funds to provide voucher ‘scholarships’ to send students to private schools. This proposal would weaken public education in order to subsidize private education with taxpayer dollars.”
It is no secret that there is a powerful move to privatize public education.For profit higher education entities have already set the precedent in the education market. They can “educate” students and turn a profit at the same time. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that deep dish pie? Now public education is at risk of charter schools and other business driven models replacing public schools throughout our country. If you are thinking, “So what? They’re not doing such a great job anyway,” then dig a little deeper and get the statistics and true facts about the quality and viability of “for profit” education. They don’t measure up.
Texas kids should stand first in line when it comes to drawing on the Rainy Day Fund to invest in the state’s future prosperity. Our resurgent economy gives us the ability, with the revenue that is already available, to restore funding unwisely cut last session from education, health, and human services. Texas can do better by giving Texans a real opportunity to achieve a brighter economic future for themselves and their families.
If the governor is unwilling to help, legislators must take notice and act responsibly. Education must be prioritized not privatized because it is the most fundamental building block upon which all else will rise or fall. The increasing number of Texas children will determine the quality of life for us all in the years to come. They are our future health care providers, policy makers, teachers, taxpayers, and civic leaders who will create innovation in communities or contribute to the gentrification and eventual collapse of our communities. The gap is already too wide. Let’s invest in our children before it’s too late.