Vote for Civility and EducationOpinion
OPINION — Though I am chair of the Tom Green County Democratic Party, I HATE much of what we find in today’s politics. I know politics are important, because the decisions made by government affect people’s lives, but I still don’t like much of what I see in today’s politics.
I despise the incivility that is so prevalent in today’s politics. Several people asked me whether I was going to counter the sadistic lying ads run in the paper by members of our community against Democrats. My reply is NO! Those ads simply reveal the character – or lack thereof – of the people who paid for them, and anything I would write won’t change the minds of anyone who believes those ads.
I was heartened to read last week that a survey, conducted by a group called MORE IN COMMON, had found that 67% of the country is what the organization calls the “Exhausted Majority,” a group that is displeased by America’s polarization and would like for people to find common ground.
So let’s talk FACTS and about where most of us might have common ground – our support for public education funding. Public education should be a bi-partisan issue.
FACT: Last legislative session, the Texas House – led by Speaker Joe Strauss, with the strong support of our own Drew Darby – appropriated an increase in funds for our public schools.
FACT: The Texas Senate never voted on this legislation. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick held it hostage, refusing to bring it up for a vote unless the Texas House agreed to his (and Governor Abbott’s) plan for private school vouchers. That is a program that has failed everywhere it has been tried, where the state takes YOUR tax dollars and gives them to rich people who are already sending their kids to private schools. The goal is to privatize education to turn our neighborhood schools into profit centers that will enrich the schools’ owners at the expense of our children and our families.
FACT: The less money the state puts into our public neighborhood school system, the more your property taxes go up. As Speaker Strauss recently said, “Putting more state dollars into public education will help teachers and students, reduce the burden on local property taxes, and keep more local dollars in local schools.”
FACT: Not too long ago, the State of Texas paid 50% of the cost of a student to attend public school, but now it pays only 38%, and Senate leaders plan to cut it to 36% next year.
FACT: If Drew Darby, a Republican, is the next Speaker of the House for Texas and tries to put more money into public schools, he will have the support of Texas Democrats and moderate pro-education and pro-business Republicans, but not the support of our Tea Party leaders in Texas state government: Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
So here is an idea. There are no pro-education/pro-business Republicans on the ballot this year for statewide office, just Tea Party extremists who don’t support funding public education. Why don’t the pro-education Republicans join with the pro-education Democrats and elect common-sense candidates who know funding public education is the most important issue in the state of Texas?
Let’s find COMMON GROUND and support public education.
And one other way is to support public education. I want to urge you voters in the San Angelo ISD and the Christoval ISD to PLEASE support the school bonds on the ballot, ALL OF THEM.
In the real world, more than 95% of a local school district’s operations budget is used for salaries and programs. The only way to make major investments in our school district’s infrastructure is through bonds. No matter how much we save from operations, there remains NO real money to fix up old buildings and make them safe or to build new ones. It is impossible without a bond (just as it is impossible for most people to buy a house without taking out a mortgage). By law, bonds cannot be used for salaries, only facilities; and friends, facilities – like houses – get old and need repairs. That is the real world. Do the right thing for our kids, their teachers, and our future economic growth as a community – VOTE YES to these school bonds.