Wilder's Whole World: Education Legislating

By: Dwayne Wilder

By the time you read this, the Texas Legislature may have already done what I am advocating; but as of this writing, they have not, so all I have is the ‘solutions’ they enumerate in the media.
For the sake of argument, I’m going to say that the legislators have NOT done right by education in Texas. (Of course, if they do, I’ll be the first to congratulate them!)
During this legislative session, public education has been the number one discussed topic on citizens and legislators minds. With a budget shortfall of $25 Billion (with a ‘B’), Texas was up against it from Day 1 in January. Blame for the shortfall will have to be another column, but his initials are “R.P.”
Anyway, one idea to deal with that deficit was run up the flagpole early on. Let’s cut 100,000 public school teachers in Texas; that will save billions and we are billions short! What a bunch of shortsighted crap!
That number has fluctuated from 80,000 to 100,000 over the weeks, but the bottom line is that Rick Perry and some legislators want to ‘gut’ the public school system as an answer to the shortfall.

Really?! Who has the conscious to do that and have to live with the consequences for generations to come? I am struck with the ludicrousness of the concept.
Since this idea was released, citizens, teachers, students and school boards have been telling the legislature in no uncertain terms that this is NOT right. I agree for obvious reasons. If you take away one third of the teachers, guess who isn’t going to benefit from this act? Right! The students; both now and in the future.

That workforce of highly intelligent people that Perry espouses simply won’t exist because there weren’t enough teachers for those students to learn enough to grow up to be intelligent workers!
An alternative – use the ‘Rainy Day’ fund – is my choice for a solution.
Others have mentioned the fund, an account that the legislature keeps in reserve for situations just like this one, as a solution, too. Now, if only we can get the legislature to listen.
At one point, Perry said that he would consider using the fund only if it were used for the first year of the budget cycle and not the second (Texas’ legislature meets every two years and thus the need to do two budgets each time.)

Okay, I can live with that. It’s a start. It’s much better than putting all those teachers out of the classroom where they are desperately needed. Perhaps, over the weeks, some semblance of rationality has taken over in the minds of state government and the legislators. We can only hope!
The reason I bring up this subject again is that school districts are also doing their future budgets now. They see the shortfall in their numbers and don’t know what will come from the state because the legislature hasn’t resolved the issue yet. Those same school boards are having to speculate the worse and tell staff that a huge number of teachers will be laid off if the ‘current’ numbers stand.
This just adds to the fire and makes those same citizens, teachers, students and boards get even more adamant to the legislature. It’s a horrible vicious cycle! One that shouldn’t happen in the first place.
As the school boards said, “Make Education a Priority!” If only those legislators and Perry had thought that first, then we wouldn’t have people’s livelihood and school board finances in shambles here at the end of May. (The session ends May 31.)
This example is what makes me so mad at the way things are done in our society and our world. Get your priorities straight and everything else will fall into place……………
What prompted me to revisit this subject was a column in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday by a first year teacher who had already been told that she would be one of the 80 Denton ISD teachers laid off.
She told of how becoming a teacher was a dream come true for her. She loves her work and refuses to call it a ‘job.’ She wants to make a difference in the lives of young people not only this first year, but for years to come.
And the Texas Legislature would cancel that ‘job’ and snuff out her dream during one budget cycle for a problem that was created by past legislatures anyway!
Wow! How are we serving that young teacher? AND how are we serving her students and future students?! And now multiply that sentiment by 100,000! What do you get?
A very messed up Texas society for generations to come……………………
We must never ‘gut’ our educational system! It is the only thing standing in the path of poverty and hopelessness. We owe it to everyone and the future ‘everyones’ to ‘make education a priority’ and continue strengthening it every time we get the chance.
A young teacher and her students are awaiting an answer……………………

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