When Your Vote Isn't Enough - Challenging Reform


On an email list, Mike Gras said something that struck me. Since I was focused on other things (work), I let that slide past me for the moment, promising myself to come back to it later. Then, Scott Floyd was kind enough to quote it in response to the blog entry I wrote Friday when I heard about what was happening in Dallas ISD to wonderful professionals in the Instructional Technology Department, as well as others:
If what you posted doesn't make it clear that the Texas Legislature wants to destroy public educators, check out HB 400. It takes away tons of protections while adding more burdens to those employed. As @mikegras put it, you can vote out whoever you want, but if HB400 goes through, those protections will never return.
For awhile, I had to set aside my concerns with Texas politics and legislature. To be honest, discussing those things is outside the range of my blog...I don't like discussing them because they are often negative critiques of actions taken and decisions made by "legislators" I often don't agree with.  I would love to just vote in the people that are committed to the positive initiatives and actions I support and turn them loose. Alas, that is not a valid perspective in today's environment and can result in profound failure (I point to President Obama and his Race to the Top as but one example). But to see Texans ripping education out by the roots for political reasons...and is this really what Texas is about? If it is, I know my family wouldn't have moved here so many years ago...we could have gone anywhere.
To begin, the governor's proposed budget slashes state support for public schools. It is, he says, up to local school districts to determine who and how many to fire and how to cope with reduced State support.
And Perry not only proposes to cut state funding for the public universities, but also endorses proposals for the state to foster new, for-profit, private colleges to compete with Texas' underfunded public universities.
In short, the governor's policies reveal a hostility toward public education, higher and lower, in Texas. 
A hostility towards Texas public education. Watching teachers working in schools across Texas--yes, I do get around to meet with many--I can't understand this perspective of hostility. It is a mean-spirited approach that leaves care-givers, parents themselves trying to do the best they can with the little they are provided, putting in a percentage of their short pay to supplement classroom purchases (heck, my wife and I still do that) for children that don't have enough. While "the poor will always be with us," (source and cross reference), is that any reason to kick them by underfunding public schools by billions of dollars?

Institutionalizing the hostility hurts, doesn't it? Consider the summation by Carolyn Foote, a librarian in Texas schools of HB400:
It will make permanent change in class sizes, eliminate minimum salary schedule for teachers in the State of Texas and leave that up to local school districts, change notification of denial of contract to last day of school, etc.  Allows districts to change number of required teaching days (furloughs).
This bill makes some "temporary" fixes for this budget crisis PERMANENT.  (a main objection to this bill in my mind).

"You can vote out whoever you want, but if HB400 goes through, those protections will never return." That's a frightening thought, isn't it? That state legislators will enshrine their ideas in law in such a way that it will endure beyond their turbulent time at the State Capitol.

I have to admit that I am profoundly disillusioned with our political process when I read quotes like that. During previous presidential elections, I was always amazed at how quickly the "new" administration would come in and start destroying what the previous administration had done. What a turbulent time period.

WHEN we don't get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don't blame the soldiers. We don't say, "It's these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That's why we haven't done better in Afghanistan!" No, if the results aren't there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. 
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Are we really committed to children, to education, or big business and making money? What is YOUR answer as an educator?
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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