First things first

Yesterday’s blog item encouraging votes against Republican legislative candidates who support school vouchers prompted one teacher, Betsy, a voucher supporter, to ask me for a nonpolitical, “issuesbased piece” on my antivoucher position.

This may not be what she is looking for, but, for me, the bottom line is this. The vast majority of Texas children who receive an education are educated in the public schools, not in charters, not in private schools and not at home.

Yet, state government’s record of supporting the public schools is extremely poor. In 2008, the most recent data I have, Texas ranked 44th among the states in per pupil spending for instruction and 33rd in teacher salaries. Those numbers beg for improvement. Texas needs to strengthen its commitment to the public schools, help them strengthen their programs for all students – including the disadvantaged and not siphon off tax dollars for a relative handful of children.

There is more to a quality public education than money, you say? True enough. But money, obviously, is a crucial part of the equation.

I am reminded of a former state senator who, years ago, was debating one of his tightfisted colleagues on the Senate floor over education funding. “You say we can’t solve the public schools’ problems by throwing money at them,” he barked. “How do we know? We’ve never tried.”

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