Day: <span>October 11, 2012</span>

Good classrooms require more than political jargon


Another education budget-cutter, State Rep. Sarah Davis of House District 134 in Houston, is taking voters for a ride by touting “Excellence in Education” as a key issue on her campaign website. Since she is running for reelection against a very good opponent, she is scrambling for votes. And, promoting “excellence” sounds a whole lot better than announcing she voted last year to slash $5.4 billion from public school budgets, now doesn’t it?

No, she isn’t advertising that vote, but she certainly did cast it. And, according to Texas Education Agency estimates, the cuts she approved included more than $130 million from Houston ISD and Spring Branch ISD in her House district alone. Ouch! That’s a pretty big hit against the students and educators in District 134. It also is a big hit against that “Excellence in Education” goal that Davis purports to support. And, she voted to cut funding while leaving about $6 billion of taxpayers’ money unspent, doing no one any good, in the Rainy Day Fund.

Although her campaign jargon is trite and largely meaningless, the results of her budget cuts are concrete and severe – 25,000 lost school jobs, including almost 11,000 teaching positions; thousands of children in overcrowded classrooms; outdated instructional materials; and fewer disadvantaged children (future dropout risks) in pre-kindergarten programs.

The lost teacher jobs included about 1,000 in HISD and Spring Branch alone, according to the TEA.

Davis says she is committed to science, technology, engineering and math – subjects critical to the economy – and to the “teaching of the arts, ensuring the creative potential of students is developed in fields like music, art and theater.”

I wonder if Davis has any idea how many science, math, art and music teachers lost their jobs because of her budget cuts. It is not the PTA’s job to pay to replace them. It is the Legislature’s. Ann Johnson, Davis’ reelection opponent, understands that.

The Texas State Teachers Association is supporting Johnson in District 134 because Johnson understands that true excellence in education requires more than hollow platitudes from lawmakers.