Where have they been?

Teachers and other employees of Lufkin ISD obviously appreciate the sentiment of a strongly worded resolution the Lufkin school board adopted this week, condemning the school funding disaster being perpetrated in Austin. But I wonder, “Where has this board been the past five months?” This outrage didn’t happen overnight, and it is well down the road now.

I don’t know about Lufkin specifically, but the sad truth is that school boards and superintendents – at least the organizations that represent them in Austin – told the Legislature, in effect, that they were giving up on having an adequately funded school finance system in January. That’s when they started pressing, instead, for legislation to allow them to shift much of the looming cuts onto teachers in the form of larger classes, pay cuts and furloughs – the kind of poor educational policy that is scheduled for debate on the House floor tomorrow.

Instead of asking for budgetary “flexibility,” as they called it, the school boards and superintendents should have been joining TSTA and other teacher groups in demanding that the Legislature find new revenue for the public schools. There should have been 1,000plus strongly worded resolutions – once from each and every school board – sent to the governor, the lieutenant governor and every legislator in January, demanding that lawmakers fulfill their constitutional responsibility to the public schools. And, followup visits and phone calls to lawmakers’ offices.

School board members and superintendents are not without influence with their local legislators, but most chose to use that influence to the detriment of teachers and school kids rather than stay in the Legislature’s face over adequate funding.

The belated Lufkin resolution most likely was prompted by the distribution formulas now being considered by legislators for doling out the funding cuts. Perhaps Lufkin’s hit is worse than anticipated.

“My school children are going to suffer from the elimination of basic programs,” Lufkin Superintendent Roy Knight told the Lufkin Daily News.

So, are tens of thousands of other Texas kids, whose local school officials were more interested in accommodation than confrontation in Austin.



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