Governor Perry ignores student needs:
Turns down $700 million in fed education funds
Among the Republican leadership in Texas, politics is much more important than educating children or solving social problems.
By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / January 16, 2010
Governor Rick Perry and the Texas State Board of Education can brag all they want to about how wonderful Texas schools are, but there are a couple of statistics that show what a big lie they are telling. First, Texas ranks near the bottom of all the states in funding its public education.
The second statistic shows the result of that underfunding. Texas schools only graduate 65.3% of high school students. That’s right. Of all the students that enter a Texas high school, more than a third of them will not graduate. This means Texas is dumping hundreds of thousands of uneducated (or minimally educated) students on society every year. This has to have a deleterious effect on many social problems like crime, poverty, unemployment, etc.
But among the Republican leadership in Texas, politics is much more important than educating children or solving social problems. Consider the purely political move made by the governor this last week (he is up for re-election this year and has a strong opponent in the Republican primary). In a move designed to appeal to his ultra-right-wing-teabagger base, Gov. Perry has turned down $700 million dollars from the federal government for Texas schools.
That money would have been Texas’ share of the $4.35 billion Race To The Top funds provided by the federal government to improve schools nationwide. (Alaska has also refused to apply for their share of the funds.) Perry said the funding program “smacks of a federal takeover of our public schools” because it would mean Texas would have to adopt federal standards for schools.
This, of course, would appeal to the nutty teabaggers who make up a majority of the Texas Republican Party. These people oppose all federal government programs except for the military — they do love their obscene little wars. So to get the votes of these nuts, Perry has shown he is willing to throw Texas school children under the proverbial bus.
Even more shocking is the fact that the Republican-dominated State Board of Education supports Perry’s political move in rejecting the $700 million. These board members, who are tasked with providing Texas children with the best possible education, are also willing to put their personal politics above helping the school children of the state.
The State Board of Education has now passed a resolution supporting Gov. Perry which says, “The State Board of Education opposes any effort to implement national standards and national tests and believes the authority to determine what Texas students will be taught in Texas public schools should reside with the State Board of Education.”
It is ridiculous to think that Texas is afraid of having to meet national school standards — standards that will be met in 48 other states. We should not be afraid to meet these standards because we should have already adopted standards that exceed those national standards. But we haven’t, and it shows in our schools.
The board members are afraid that those standards would prohibit their efforts to inject their religious and political beliefs into the school curriculum. The board is currently only one vote away from requiring the teaching of creationism in science classes, and they hope to get that vote in the next election. Science barely won the last skirmish, but the battle is far from over here in Texas.
Currently, the board is in the process of trying to install a revisionist view of history into the school curriculum. They want to make heros out of zeros such as “Tail Gunner” Joe McCarthy, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly and ethically-challenged ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich, while minimizing the contributions of true heroes like Cesar Chavez. [See “Textbooks in Texas: Rehabilitating Joe McCarthy?” on The Rag Blog.]
With people like Gov. Perry and the current State Board of Education in charge, is it any wonder that Texas schools are in trouble?
[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]