Paul Ryan’s war on public schools is much deeper than the anti-education votes I listed in a blog posting the other day. The slash-and-burn budget proposal that he sponsored in Congress before Mitt Romney chose him as a running mate would have resulted in lost opportunities for thousands of Texas school children and cost as many as 19,000 Texas educators their jobs. These losses would be in addition to the cuts, job losses and overcrowded classrooms already inflicted on Texas schools by the governor and the legislative majority.
Mitt Romney shares Ryan’s condescending view of public education, or he wouldn’t have chosen the congressman as a running mate. The Romney-Ryan budget, if adopted, would particularly target low-income children and the people who teach them. I don’t care how many charter and voucher schemes you come up with, the vast majority of these kids are going to be educated in traditional public schools – or they are going to drop out. When kids drop out of school, it hurts families, cuts economic capacity and compromises the safety of our communities. It makes absolutely no sense to undercut public education.
During fiscal 2013-14, the Romney-Ryan budget would cut more than $141 million from Head Start programs in Texas alone. This would eliminate enrollment slots for 19,000 young children and 8,050 jobs for Head Start teachers. Head Start is not a babysitting service. It is an important early childhood development program that helps disadvantaged children learn in a classroom setting and stay in school, rather than drop out, when they get a little older. It is an investment in a stronger future, not only for the children but also for the entire economy.
Romney and Ryan would whack $335 million from federal Title I programs in Texas. These also are programs designed to give extra help to low-income and disadvantaged kids in danger of dropping out and becoming tax burdens, rather than productive taxpayers, as adults. These cuts would reduce or eliminate services for more than 800,000 Texas children and cost more than 6,200 Texas educators their jobs. The Romney-Ryan proposal also would cut $247 million from special education grants to Texas. That would transfer those costs to the state and local school districts, jeopardizing services for more than 108,000 children and jobs for 4,600 educators. School children and educators in other states also would suffer significant hits in all these categories.
The National Education Association (NEA), with which TSTA is affiliated, compiled the above figures. NEA is supporting President Obama’s reelection because President Obama is a strong supporter of the public schools and advocates for equal opportunity for all children. That is in sharp contrast to the Romney-Ryan education budget and Romney’s top-down belief that children should receive as much education “as they can afford.”