Someone needs to tell Dan Patrick, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that something important happened last week in Austin. A judge ordered the Legislature to do its job and adequately pay for the public schools.
If you’re not sure where to find Patrick, go down to the Mexican border, where you may find him waving a big Texas flag, preaching “border security” and annoying the heck out of local law-enforcement officials. Be careful not to get shot by any self-anointed “citizens’ militia” vigilantes, who are even more annoying and dangerous than Patrick.
But Patrick is bad enough.
Even after Judge John Dietz had carefully and forcefully pointed out that the constitutional rights of 5 million school children to a public education – and the state’s own economic future — were in serious jeopardy because of the Legislature’s failure, the Senate education chair remained totally out to lunch on education.
Ignoring education entirely, Patrick instead spent the holiday weekend sending emails trying to raise money for his lieutenant governor’s race by fanning the flames on immigration. “Border security is the top issue for all of us,” he declared, falsely conjuring of images of a criminal tide that only he could stop.
The truth is, folks, that the vast majority of immigrants are simply seeking a better life for their families and that immigration and significant demographic changes in Texas will continue, despite all the Dan Patricks who refuse to accept reality. Equally true is the fact that an effective immigration policy will not come from Patrick or any other state official. It will come only from the federal government, if and when Republicans in Congress also decide to accept reality.
Bashing immigration, though, is a lot easier for Patrick than actually trying to lead policymakers in drafting a plan for adequately and fairly funding public education. His main “interest,” if you want to call it that, in public education has been to cut school budgets, saddle kids with high-stress standardized tests and siphon school tax dollars for unproven privatization schemes.
Maybe we should just leave him down on the border — or behind his radio microphone or computer or wherever he hides from voters. Leticia Van de Putte, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, meanwhile, actually is prepared to give educators and students the resources they need for success.