Graydon Hicks, the superintendent of the small Fort Davis ISD in far West Texas recently wrote an open letter, lambasting Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick over the legislative majority’s continuing failure to adequately fund public education.
He detailed how the state’s top two “leaders,” while playing politics with school bathrooms and privatization, are threatening to flush endangered school districts, such as Fort Davis, down the toilet.
In his letter published on the Big Bend Now website, Hicks wrote: “Fort Davis ISD has 235 children, has NO cafeteria, has NO bus routes, has dropped our band program, has eliminated (or not filled) 15 staff positions, has CUT stipends for extra-curricular activities, has FROZEN (or reduced) staff pay for one year, has CUT extra-curricular programs, has NO debt and has increased our local tax rate to the maximum of $1.17 (per $100 valuation) allowed by law.”
“We have nothing left to cut. We have nothing left to reduce,” he added.
Meanwhile, in Austin, Abbott and Patrick continue to stick their noses into kids’ bathrooms, continue to promote the wasting of tax dollars on private school vouchers and are seeking an unnecessary, umpteenth study of school finance instead of tackling the funding issue head-on.
“Quit pontificating about bathrooms,” Hicks wrote. “Quit hiding your intentions behind righteous statements on school vouchers and choice.”
The superintendent then challenged the governor and the lieutenant governor to “come out to our community and face the wrath of our taxpayers and voters….Come explain yourself to our parents and children.”
That’s a nice idea, but it won’t happen because Abbott and Patrick have every reason to think they can continue to take the votes of most Fort Davis voters for granted. And why shouldn’t they?
Abbott took 60 percent of the vote in Jeff Davis County, where Fort Davis ISD is located, in winning the governor’s office in 2014, and Patrick took almost 57 percent. Both defeated Democratic opponents who had far superior records on public education issues. The two handily won majorities not only in Fort Davis but also in many other school districts throughout Texas that now also are being squeezed by Abbott’s and Patrick’s policies.
Elections have consequences for school districts, superintendents and students, and those consequences will be changed only when election outcomes are changed. Abbott and Patrick will be on the ballot again next year. What will the parents, educators and other voters in Fort Davis and other school districts do then?