Tell the governor

I posted a blog item last week about how parents and other taxpayers – including people who normally don’t want any part of the political world – are beginning to realize that they and their children will be the ultimate victims of the deep budget cuts being championed at the state Capitol by Gov. Rick Perry and some Republican legislators.

Well, the lights continue to blink on.

While Perry was in Austin, trying to downplay the seriousness of a revenue shortfall as high as $27 billion and poohpoohing any notion of spending any part of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help ease the emergency, more than 800 of his angry and concerned constituents were trying to squeeze into the Fort Bend School Board’s meeting room in Sugar Land.

Why? Fort Bend ISD, one of hundreds of budgetstrapped school districts across the state, is considering closing several schools.

In Austin, on Tuesday night, about 300 people attended a parents’ meeting to protest the possible closure of one of several schools that Austin ISD is considering shutting down. In each case, hundreds of school kids’ lives will be disrupted, their new schools will be more crowded and teachers’ jobs will be lost.

Every day, the news clips include several stories of school districts’ budgetary woes, all traceable to the governor’s and the Legislature’s failure to adequately and equitably fund the public schools. The recession hasn’t helped, but the basic problem is a school finance failure at the statehouse.

This morning’s clips also included discussions of possible layoffs in El Paso ISD and various costcutting possibilities in San Antonio ISD, including layoffs, a shorter school week and consolidating some specialty schools.

“You couldn’t spend enough to make some of those groups happy,” Gov. Perry told the Houston Chronicle in an interview on the same day the Fort Bend parents besieged their local school board.

“Those groups” obviously include Fort Bend parents and thousands of others throughout the state who soon will be barging in on their local school boards when their neighborhood schools also are threatened with closure.

All the peaceful, public activism is good. But now it’s time for these parents to turn their attention to the root of the problem – the Capitol. There is a lot of room for peaceful rallying on the Capitol grounds or even outside the governor’s office. Let Perry hear and see how unhappy his everyday constituents really are.

The governor didn’t even see fit to make education funding an emergency on the first day of the session. But he did give “emergency” status to legislation protecting private property rights and ending the practice of “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, both hotbutton priorities of conservative Republican primary voters.

Some say Perry is keeping his options open for a 2012 presidential run. I say it’s time for him to quit dreaming and start listening to the thousands of everyday Texans who want an adequately funded public education system.


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