Day: <span>May 31, 2016</span>

Elections have consequences for education


Elections have consequences, and if we don’t keep reminding ourselves of this fact, someone else will – sometimes not very pleasantly.

On a postive note, the defeat of Mary Lou Bruner in the Republican runoff for the District 9 seat on the State Board of Education will have the kind of consequences most of us like. Ms. Bruner will have to confine her outrageous, ill-informed prejudices to Facebook and won’t have the chance to insert them into Texas’ public school curriculum and textbooks.

Educators played a significant role in defeating Mary Lou and giving the Republican nomination to TSTA-backed candidate Keven Ellis, the Lufkin ISD board president.

Because of their large numbers – there are more than 600,000 public school employees in Texas – educators and their families play important roles in elections. And, from the perspective of what’s in the best interest of their profession, they sometimes make the right choice, as in the case of Ellis, and sometimes they don’t.

Many educators were angered by Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent suggestion that spending more on education may be a “waste” of money. Many are angered by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s persistent attempts to privatize public education. And many have expressed outrage over the unanimous ruling by the Texas Supreme Court that it is OK for Abbott, Patrick and the legislative majority to continue to under-fund public schools.

Yet, only two years ago, many educators voted to elect Abbott, Patrick and four of the Supreme Court justices who issued the school finance ruling. Each won with 58 percent or more of the general election vote, and candidates don’t win that large a margin without the votes of many teachers, superintendents, other school employees and school board members.

Moreover, educators who choose to vote a straight Republican ticket this fall will vote to re-elect three more of the Supreme Court justices who opted to let the legislative majority continue to shortchange schools, students and educators’ jobs.

TSTA endorses candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, based on their stands on one issue and one issue alone – public education.

Individual educators, of course, have the right to vote for whomever they want, and I respect that right. As do most people, educators base their votes on a variety of issues that are important to them personally. But they may not always be in the best interest of their profession — or their students.

And the consequences keep piling up.