We can talk about all the things that were completed; i.e., weighting a fish during a tournament, sonograms for women considering abortion, tax breaks for yacht owners, or we can talk about the things that were not completed; i.e., the structural tax deficit, fully funding education, using the Rainy Day Fund.
But, we’ll talk about neither. These are tired subjects.
As the lights go out in Austin, the Senators and Representatives that “worked” so hard for us this legislative session +1, return home to their districts and get to forget that the 82nd Texas State Legislative Session ever happened. And why not? They did exactly what their constituents sent them to Austin to do…cut spending and do not raise taxes (or use tax money already available (RDF)). I suppose we should be thanking them.
I won’t. I work in education.
My thoughts now turn to teachers. It will be teachers who will have to face the questions of “why?” It will be teachers that will have to talk about why class sizes are larger in middle school and high school, why buses don’t pick up students anymore, and why the secretary gives medicine in the front office and not a school nurse. It will be teachers that will asked about “structural tax deficits”, “bond elections”, and “TREs” (Tax Ratification/Rate Election).
Teachers are now left with this burden of answering these questions and many more for their family, church members, parents, and other community members that they will encounter on a daily basis. And teachers will be asked these questions because they work in education and must have all the answers. It is left to the teachers because of the things that Texas state legislators did not solve (or even address) and very happily descended to the lower, local levels. The burden now shifts to the local districts.
And what you will see occur is school districts continuing to struggle to serve their student populations. School districts are growing at a rate of 80,000 students per year and will not have enough money to educate these students plus the current students enrolled in their districts. It was never a case of needing more money; it was a case of needing enough to sustain daily operations. As such, districts will turn to bond elections and TREs to try to generate revenue to do just that…sustain.
Some districts will succeed (Canutillo ISD), some districts will fail (Keller ISD), and some will never need to address the issue (Highland Park ISD). But, no matter the outcome, the ball is truly in our court. We now bear the burden of financing education. We also bear the burden of answering “why?” when, we ourselves, do not have the answer.
The 83rd Texas State Legislative campaign begins today. To find out who represented you this legislative session go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/.
- The Distractor Factor: Texas 82nd Legislature in Review, Part 1 (texaspubliceducation.wordpress.com)
- The Distractor Factor: Texas 82nd Legislature in Review, Part 2 (texaspubliceducation.wordpress.com)
- Twilight Sets Upon Austin: The Things that Didn’t and Won’t Happen (texaspubliceducation.wordpress.com)
- A Brief History of Texas Public Education (texaspubliceducation.wordpress.com)
- What Texas Legislators Need to Know About Leading a Texas School (texaspubliceducation.wordpress.com)