by Peter Stern
The fact is that Texas is near last on the list of providing a quality public school education and near last re: providing the tax dollars to operate the system. But realistically, just throwing more money into public education does NOT automatically improve it.
One woman, Donna, blogged in response to my last commentary on Public Education, that kids can do well in public schools... that it is in the hands of the children and their parents. Children can do well in public school and she referred to her own children as an example. Part of the comment is correct, but it is also inaccurate. Here is my response to her and to other Texans who can’t see the reality of what is going on here.
Donna, sometimes you can be a great parent and support your children in everything they do, but public education DOES hold them back. I was lucky. I almost failed to graduate and had to make up a course in summer school. However, I did graduate public school and had a productive life as a Director of Information Services, a University Professor, a Middle School Principal and public school teacher.
In Texas, approximately 80 percent of our annual property taxes is for public education. That's a lot of money that isn't working properly. Under the idiot "Robin Hood Clause" my district has to give up the taxes we paid to give to a "poorer" district. A court judge determine this 10 years ago and that's how long schools and parents have been fighting this nonsense.
Governor Perry and state legislators will NOT eliminate the SBOE [State Board of Education] which is the entity that dictates what programs, subjects and books Texas schools will use and how schools will teach our children. For quite some time the board was comprised of bible thumpers who had their own agendas. Other board members may also have other interests. Mark Twain once stated, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” How many Texas children have been that lucky to say the same thing?
Here are some other facts and concerns regarding public education:
A lot of the money collected for public schools never makes it to public schools because legislators permit the money to go to other special interests.
The legislative and school systems do NOT work well for the people of Texas and their children. The entities are bought by various wealthy special interests.
The GOP majority pushes for privatizing public education, making it unaffordable for most parents. Several legislators sit on the boards of private and/or charter schools and let these interests dictate their direction. Hence, there is a movement for a school voucher system to let parents take their children from public schools to enroll in the private school sector.
Many schools divert tax dollars for special interest programs and courses. Generally they do not emphasize the basics of an education. They do NOT provide an education that ensures better learning outcomes and future success rates for our children as employees in business. Many large businesses do NOT pay their fair share in taxes and the State lets them.
Those are some of the ways the State controls our tax dollars that are supposed to go to public education.
In addition, whatever money does get to public education is often NOT used well by the districts. For example, there may be too many administrators whose salaries are too high. Too many of our tax dollars are going to schools and are used to promote sports and special events.
We need a focus on reading, writing, mathematics and science.
We need teacher and student mentoring programs and business collaboratives. Large businesses need to pay their fair share of school taxes.
The list of fixes goes on and on, BUT LITTLE GETS ACCOMPLISHED BY THE GOVERNOR, LEGISLATORS, SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND EDUCATIONAL LEARNING OUTCOMES REMAIN LOW.
If “It takes a village to raise a child.” Texas is failing as an educated village. Texans need to recognize the education facts, how politics interferes with educational development and communicate to the governor, legislators and district administrators that we need to intelligently and expediently resolve the issues and problems inherent in our public education system.