The president can try to wall off the southern border, the legislative majority can continue depriving minority Texans of their right to vote and the same lawmakers can wax xenophobic over a dozen more bills to outlaw “sanctuary cities,” but one eventuality will remain true and unstoppable.
Within the next generation, the majority of Texans will not look nor think like the president or the majority of today’s legislators. By the middle of this century, most Texans will be Hispanic. The Texas Hispanic population is younger and growing at a faster pace than the non-Hispanic population, and, the debate over immigration to the contrary, most Hispanics in Texas are U.S. citizens. Moreover, the politicians who today are responding to fear and racism in their futile effort to delay the future will be either forgotten or footnotes of derision in history books that will be written by authors who do not look nor think like them.
The fear and discrimination generated by immigration crackdowns and a voter ID law and political district maps that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts are bad enough. But maybe even worse is what the legislative majority and recent Texas governors have not been doing. They have not been preparing our state – a state in which our children and grandchildren will live – for the same prosperity that most of us, including our political class, has enjoyed.
The key to that future is our public education system, where the majority enrollment already is Hispanic and low-income. That education system remains woefully under-funded and, even under the best scenario, will remain under-funded after the current legislative session ends, casting a lengthening shadow on that rapidly approaching future.
Instead of helping thousands of immigrant children in their neighborhood public schools better prepare themselves for tomorrow, many legislators would rather threaten them with a heightened sense of insecurity over such basic concerns as whether a nine-year-old’s parents will be there when she returns home from school.
Calling that a blow for “national security” is baloney.
Steve Murdock is a former state demographer under Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Census Bureau director under President George W. Bush. He has a clearer vision of Texas’ future than any other human, and he has warned repeatedly that our state leaders aren’t preparing for it.
In a series of books and lectures, Murdock has told anyone who will listen that if state government continues to neglect public education funding the Texas economy will be poorer and less competitive by mid-century — and not because the population will be majority Hispanic. It will be because that population won’t be adequately educated. And a sluggish economy will affect the employment and lifestyle prospects of all Texans – regardless of race, ethnicity or political persuasion. Many undoubtedly will have to move elsewhere.
The key to the future begins with education, and that future could be successful, but not as long as the legislative majority continues to waste time neglecting schools in favor of playing to fear and discrimination.