Our Public Schools

A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

Texas Constitution, Article 7, Sec. 1

In a ruling last Friday, the Texas Supreme Court apparently overlooked that part of our state’s constitution when it declared our broken, underfunded and inequitable school finance system to be…“constitutional.”

Needless to say, this ruling stunned a lot of people, myself included.

As I said on Friday:

“As a result of today’s Supreme Court ruling, 5.2 million Texas school children will be left further behind, unless the Legislature is willing to take it upon itself to act. It is shameful that our state ranks in the bottom third in per-pupil funding and that many of our schools have yet to recover from the $5.4 billion in cuts in 2011. I have always argued we should not wait for a court to force us to fulfill our constitutional duty – now, the Legislature needs to do the right thing by fixing our broken school finance system and improving equity and quality for Texas students.”

What’s even more mystifying than the Court’s erroneous decision is the reaction of many Republican leaders. Instead of acknowledging the part of the court’s ruling that urges the Legislature to do its duty and overhaul an outdated and unfair school finance scheme —

“Our Constitution endows the people’s elected representatives with vast discretion in fulfilling their constitutional duty to fashion a school system fit for our dynamic and fast-growing State’s unique characteristics. We hope lawmakers will seize this urgent challenge and upend an ossified regime ill-suited for 21st century Texas.”

— many Republicans, including the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General have seen fit to spike the ball on students, teachers and parents by declaring victory and giving no indication that they’re inclined to press for needed reforms. In fact, we’ve heard a lot in the last week from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick about private school vouchers, a dangerous idea that would further harm our public education system.

It’s now up to all of us who understand that our state’s very future depends on a good education for 5.2 million young Texans to speak up, speak out and be relentless in our demand that Austin work for our students, parents and teachers and not against them.

Just because it’s “constitutional” doesn’t make it right.

Chris

PS: Don’t forget this Saturday is our Save Energy, Save Water, Save Money event. It will be held from 10:00 to 11:30 AM at Koinonia Christian Church, 2455 SE Green Oaks in Arlington. For more details, call 817-459-2800.

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