Many politicians love to pat teachers on the head, tell them what a great job they are doing and then tell them to keep their mouths shut and let the politicians decide what’s best for them. That’s been going on a lot since TSTA announced its opposition to Proposition 4, the so-called anti-income tax amendment that wouldn’t ban an income tax but would repeal a potential source of future education funding.
One of these head-patters wrote in a recent blog post: “What’s raising eyebrows is why associations dedicated to education policy and teacher advocacy are weighing in on how tax revenue is collected.”
Teachers better be weighing in on how tax revenue is collected. Without adequate tax revenue, there would be no public school system.
Teachers and other school employees live professional lives that are determined by politics. Political decisions determine what they teach, how big their classes are and how long the school day is. Political decisions set their licensing requirements and determine their pay and benefits. And political decisions determine how well or how poorly their classrooms are equipped with the resources necessary for student success.
The current state constitution, under a provision approved in 1993, already prohibits an income tax unless a majority of Texas voters approve one. The same provision also dedicates at least two-thirds of the revenue from a future income tax to reducing school property taxes and the remainder to increasing education funding.
Texans aren’t likely to approve an income tax for years to come, if ever, but TSTA believes it is foolish and short-sighted to wipe out a dedicated source of future education funding, which is what Proposition 4 would do.
Despite what its advocates would have people believe, Proposition 4 would not ban an income tax. It would allow a future legislative session to approve an income tax on a two-thirds vote, without any restrictions on how the new revenue could be spent. Lawmakers could even choose to spend it on corporate tax breaks, rather than on education or any other critical state needs.
At its core, Proposition 4 is anti-public education, and if educators don’t raise their voices against it, who will?