It takes more than dreaming

The Texas Association of Business (TAB) released a report this week pointing out how Texas has fallen way behind the curve in educating its future workforce and remaining competitive in the high stakes global competition for jobs. There were no big revelations in the report. But it was interesting that TAB went to the trouble of compiling it, since TAB for many years now has been part of the basic problem.

The report lists the following serious deficiencies, among others:

* At all age levels, Texans are educated at lower levels than their peers nationally, and we’re losing ground.
* Only seven states have done a worse job than Texas in developing a welleducated work force among workers who are farthest from retirement age.
* The growing minority population fares the worst in Texas’ educational system. More than twothirds of the Hispanic population has no education beyond high school.
* At least onethird of Texas ninth graders drop out of school before earning a high school diploma.
* And, nearly onethird of students who enroll in college immediately after graduating from high school are deemed not ready for collegelevel work.

You can read the full report, entitled “Dream Big Texas,” by clicking on the link below. The report also recommends some limited solutions, including more collaboration between businesses and local school districts and some changes in the funding formulas for higher education.

Much of what the report proposes, however, is simply more rearrangement of the deck chairs on an education system that is sinking through no fault of educators. The overriding problem is a lack of political commitment to the public schools on the part of state leaders, a point the report fails to address. The report avoids any discussion of how the public school system is woefully underfunded and inequitablyfunded. And it dares not propose the essential, but politically distasteful solution – a reliable, fair tax system that grows with the state’s educational and other needs.

Moreover, TAB has been a major supporter and enabler of the current power structure in Austin, the state leaders who have persisted in giving the public schools a succession of “accountability” hoops while denying them sufficient funding.

TAB is a longtime supporter of Gov. Rick Perry, who has all but turned his back on the public schools and even denies the seriousness of the dropout problem cited in the TAB report. TAB also is backing Perry for another term. And in 2002, TAB was instrumental in the Republican takeover of the Texas House, which enabled the election of slashandburn Tom Craddick as speaker.

Dream big? Unless the leadership in Austin is changed, TAB can dream on.

Here is a link to the group’s report:


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