Gov. Greg Abbott used the school safety issue and the fear of gun violence to receive some positive publicity for his reelection campaign during a visit to Nacogdoches the other day. Has Abbott actually done anything to protect schools from gun violence? Not much. But in the political game that doesn’t always matter. Or so Abbott hopes.
Perception often trumps reality in politics, and the governor projected a positive perception during a locally televised public appearance in which he was asked what he was doing to keep kids safe at school.
“It’s imperative that the State of Texas do everything that we can to make sure that our schools are as safe as possible,” Abbott said.
He apparently reminded his audience that in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school tragedy, he ordered the Texas School Safety Center, based at Texas State University in San Marcos, to make sure that schools across Texas are compying with school security plans.
What he didn’t tell the parents and other voters in Nacogdoches though was that last year he signed a budget that cut the School Safety Center’s budget by 30 percent, restricting the center’s ability to do its job of providing school districts with security training, resources and technical assistance.
And he didn’t remind the folks in Nacogdoches that he and his legislative allies continue to under-fund their public schools, making it difficult for some school officials to do everything they would like to do to keep their students and employees safe.
Abbott instead has proposed that more schools arm their teachers. That would sell more guns, and some people would like that, but it wouldn’t be doing, as the governor would say, “everything that we can to make sure that our schools are as safe as possible.”
And arming teachers is not a meaningful answer for the thousands of students, parents and educators who this week will continue their demonstrations against gun violence.