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Texas Education in the Budget Crisis

TEA LogoI moved to Texas several years ago to start a new job. For the most part, I like Texas, but the politics and the consequences thereof can be infuriating.

Texas has never had a stellar reputation for education. There were the shenanigans in our Board of Education over the past few years (Chris Comer resignation, language arts standards, science standards, more on science standards, social studies standards), where a bloc of ultra right wing board members have passed some standards that can only be described as counter to reality, and in very underhanded ways, doing a deep disservice to our students.

There's the TAKS Test, originally set up to try to make some accountability for students and teachers, but which has resulted in teachers training students for that particular test, rather than giving them a well rounded education.

There's our abysmal sex ed, which is abstinence only and focuses on scare tactics, resulting in the third highest rate of teen pregnancy in the country. (If you want to get involved in reforming Texas Sex Ed, take a look at the Texas Freedom Network 'Help Change Sex Ed in Texas' page.)

And then, there's just the depressing state of the general welfare of children in the state. According to the executive summary of the report mentioned in that article:

Texas ranks 50th among states in health care coverage for children; mental health services for children with diagnosed challenges; preventing childhood homelessness; preventing childhood food insecurity; and preventing obesity among adolescent girls. The state also has the most fatalities from child abuse or neglect among states and ranks 50th in per-capita spending on child abuse prevention.

So, what have legislators decided to do for children here in our state? Cut funding! Here's the headline that greeted me the other day when I looked at the local paper:

School district asks for 134 resignations

I realize that the state is facing a big budget shortfall (thanks Republican dominated state government), and that cuts need to be made. But damn, is it frustrating to see the cuts being made to education, when the education system was already so underfunded to begin with. If it really came down to it, I wouldn't mind my taxes going up a bit to keep education funded, because education is one of the most important foundations for a functioning democracy (not to mention for those kids' futures).

I guess I don't really have much of a point to this entry, other than just venting. And with the way politics goes down here, I don't have much hope that the representatives that got us into this mess will be voted out anytime soon, or that the quality of education in the state will be improved in the near future.

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