The people who spent the past several months in Austin underfunding the public schools and attacking teachers were still trying to spin their fairy tales in media reports over the holiday weekend.
One was Rep. Rob Eissler of The Woodlands, the House Public Education chairman who was more interested in squeezing educational quality (and teachers) than improving the public schools. In an interview with his hometown paper, he continued to talk about saving teachers jobs even though the new state budget, which he supported, cuts $4 billion from school finance formulas.
“I think it’s going to turn out fine,” he said.
Fine? Well, let’s see how that word translates for Montgomery ISD, one of Eissler’s school districts.
“Fine” means no additional teachers for the extra students the district will enroll, meaning classes will become more crowded. “Fine” means no costofliving increases for teachers and other employees. “Fine” means fewer school bus stops, which means kids will have longer walks between bus stops and their homes.
Statewide, “fine” means thousands of fired teachers and other school employees looking for jobs and diminished educational opportunities for young Texans.
“I think it’s safe to say education is the top priority of the state,” Eissler said. “We spent more on public education in the next biennium than the last biennium.”
Eissler isn’t the first budgetcutter to claim the Legislature increased education spending, but their arithmetic would be relevant only if the public education system were to stop growing. In truth, the Legislature didn’t pay for any of the 170,000 new students expected to enter the public schools over the next two years.
Undoubtedly, education is the top priority of most Texans. Unfortunately, though, the top priority of the governor and the legislative leadership this session was feeding an antigovernment ideology that will hurt the public schools.