A few school teachers and parents out there actually may be able to remember that some, probably most, of the Republicans now running the Texas House of Representatives – and running the teaching profession and the public schools into the ground – campaigned last year as “friends” of education. Even those drinking the antigovernment tea mostly avoided avert political attacks on the classroom.
Their records, of course, tell a different story. This is the most antieducation, antiteachers, antischool kids legislative majority in Texas in at least a generation.
First, to offer a quick rehash, all but a handful of the Republican House members voted to slash $8 billion from public school budgets. Then, moderated somewhat by the Senate, they settled for $4 billion in school finance cuts, approving the first budget in 27 years that doesn’t fully fund school finance formulas and meet enrollment growth. And they did all that while leaving $6.5 billion of the taxpayers’ money unspent in the Rainy Day Fund, the state’s emergency savings account.
Any teacher – except, perhaps, a couple of legislative spouses – who still was willing to give the scorchedearth bunch the benefit of the doubt surely gave up on this misdirected crew yesterday.
That’s when the Republican House majority – caving in once again to antigovernment ideologues reversed course and nixed a contingent proposal to spend as much as $2.2 billion of the Rainy Day Fund on school enrollment growth if its balance exceeds the projected $6.5 billion.
And then it approved Senate Bill 8, a punitive bill against teachers (furloughs, pay cuts, repeal of employment rights) that does absolutely nothing to address the budgetary crisis.
“I’m married to the prettiest teacher this side of the Atlantic,” bragged Rep. Randy Weber, RPearland, as he joined most of his Republican colleagues in trying to make life miserable for every other teacher in Texas.
TSTA is taking names and will be active in next year’s legislative races, beginning with the March Republican primaries. Every other educator who cares about the future of public education in Texas – not to mention his or her own job – had better start doing the same.
Rep. Sylvester Turner, a Democrat from Houston who fought hard against the attacks on teachers, said legislators who supported the budget cuts and Senate Bill 8 shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves “friends” of education. He is right.
With very few exceptions, the current Republican members of the Texas House who campaign for reelection next year as “friends” of teachers or public schools will be prevaricating through their teeth.