Day: October 17, 2012

School cuts breed hypocrisy

 

So far, I have been reluctant to use the word, “lie,” during this political season, but the misleading and fabricated reelection rhetoric of the Legislature’s education-cutters is getting out of hand. So, let’s be polite, but clear. State Rep. Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs is not telling the truth, and he isn’t the only one.

In a recent flyer, Isaac claims to have voted to increase the state’s share of education funding by $2 billion. He did nothing of the kind. Isaac can tie his tongue in knots trying to explain how he came up with that figure, but in truth he voted for Texas’ worst public education budget in more than 60 years, the first during that period that failed to account for enrollment growth.

With statewide enrollment increasing by 80,000 to 85,000 students each year, Isaac voted to cut $4 billion from the state’s commitment to public schools plus another $1.4 billion in grants for key programs, such as pre-kindergarten and dropout prevention. That’s a total CUT of $5.4 billion over the past two school years, or a reduction of more than $500 a year for each of Texas’ school children.

School districts in House District 45, which Isaac purports to represent, lost about $23 million of the total, according to Texas Education Agency estimates. And, Isaac voted for the cuts while leaving $6 billion of taxpayer money unspent in the Rainy Day Fund. He chose to obey Texas’ ideologue-in-chief, Gov. Rick Perry, a proponent of school privatization schemes, rather than represent the best interests of his constituents.

In his piece of campaign fiction, Isaac says he will work to ensure more money is spent in the classroom and will “reward good teachers with higher pay.” He also brags about voting last year against teacher unions so school districts could keep “their best and brightest teachers regardless of seniority.”

In truth, Isaac’s vote cost thousands of Texas’ best and brightest teachers their jobs. Almost 11,000 teachers were among the 25,000 school employees who lost jobs during the 2011-2012 school year alone. Thousands of students were crammed into overcrowded classrooms because Isaac and his fellow Perry allies voted to spend less, not more, money in the classroom. And, average teacher pay decreased for the first time in years.

Educators, parents and everyone else in House District 45 in Central Texas would be a lot better off voting for challenger John Adams, a former Dripping Springs school board member who knows that good local schools need more from the Legislature than hollow campaign rhetoric. The Texas State Teachers Association is backing Adams.

Here are some other education-cutters who also are seeking reelection but refuse to be truthful with voters. I have written about them before, but here is a rehash of Hypocrites’ Row:

# State Rep. Dee Margo, District 78, El Paso – In a fabricated argument similar to Isaac’s, he claims to have put “education funding on solid ground.” In truth, he also voted to cut $5.4 billion from the public schools. His opponent, Joe Moody, who is supported by TSTA, is a proven education advocate who will work to repair the damage.

# State Rep. Sarah Davis, District 134, Houston – She campaigns for “excellence in education” but voted to undermine the public schools with a $5.4 billion cut. Vote for Ann Johnson, her TSTA-endorsed opponent.

# State Rep. Stefani  Carter, District 102, Dallas – She portrays herself as a champion of education and claims to have voted against a school-budget cutting bill. But, in truth, she also voted for the $5.4 billion cut. TSTA is supporting her opponent, Rich Hancock.

# State Rep. Connie Scott, District 34, Corpus Christi – She claims to be “committed to improving public education.” Then why did she vote for the $5.4 billion education cut? Abel Herrero, her TSTA-endorsed opponent, is a far-better choice for voters.

# State Rep. John Garza, District 117, San Antonio – He defends his vote for deep cuts in school funding by claiming the Legislature didn’t have enough money to avoid them. The truth is he and his colleagues in the majority left $6 billion unspent in the Rainy Day Fund, more than enough money to avoid the attack on public education. Garza brags about being tight-fisted. TSTA is supporting his challenger, Philip Cortez, because Cortez brags about the importance of public schools and will advocate for them.

Other education-cutters are out there, I am sure, also trying to dodge their votes as they campaign for reelection.  If only their commitment to public schools was as strong as their ability to spin yarns.