Five candidates are running in a Nov. 8 special election for a vacant state representative seat in Brazos County. All are claiming a strong commitment to public education, but four are spending most of their energy promoting (or catering to) an ideology that is endangering the future of our public schools.
Only one, Judy LeUnes, a former, 30year teacher, actually will make public schools her first priority if given the opportunity. A former president of the College Station Education Association, she is the only candidate in the Texas House District 14 race directly and repeatedly addressing the folly of slashing more than $5 billion from the public schools and vowing to fight for more state support of school kids.
LeUnes’ four opponents – three Republican businesspeople and a Libertarian – are giving lip service to the public schools. (No one runs for the Legislature without claiming to support public education.) But, in their campaign messages, they make it clear that their first allegiance is not to the schools and school kids, but to the same antipublic service mindset that prompted Gov. Perry and the legislative majority to starve public school budgets last spring.
As a result of that shortsightedness, the two main school districts in Brazos County – College Station and Bryan ISDs – are losing more than $23 million in state aid between them during this school year and 201213. That means more crowded classrooms, fewer librarians, lost teaching positions and diminished learning environments.
“Until we get some proeducation teacher candidates in there (the Legislature), this is going to continue to happen,” LeUnes, a Democrat, recently told the BryanCollege Station Eagle, and she is correct.
Libertarian candidate Joshua Baker, on his Facebook page, also criticizes the budget cuts and says Texas must invest more in education. Then, a couple of paragraphs later, he contradicts himself by railing against government spending.
Republican Bob Yancy, on his website, brags about the “fantastic public education” his children received in College Station. But he says not a word about the devastating budget cuts that threaten to undermine the educational opportunities for thousands of other kids in the same public schools and weaken the future economy of Texas. Instead, he levels a broadside against “taxation and regulation.”
Republicans John Raney and Rebecca Boenigk call for greater investment in the classroom but don’t explain how they are going to do that while imposing limits and/or cuts on taxes. Raney also commends the work of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a rightwing think tank that is working to shrink public education in favor of privatization.
The winner of the special election will succeed former state Rep. Fred Brown, who resigned after accepting employment outside the district. All the candidates are running on the same ballot without regard to party affiliation. If no candidate receives a majority on Nov. 8, a runoff between the top two votegetters will be held later.
Early voting started today (Oct. 24) and will run through Nov. 4.
TSTA strongly urges a vote – in what may very well be a low turnout election – for Judy LeUnes, a candidate who not only preaches the importance of building quality classrooms, but also will work for that goal as a legislator. Unlike her opponents, she considers a strong public education system more than a campaign plank.