Sunday, September 30, 2012

Educational Trends in Texas

Bill Hammond, the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Business issued a prediction this week that by 2040, if current trends continue in Texas, one-third of Texas’ adults will not have a high school diploma. Hammond’s concern strikes me as being very similar to the little boy who killed his parents and then pled for mercy before the judge on the grounds he was an orphan.

Hammond, and most other members of the Texas Association of Business, have been complicit in the Texas political strategy led by Rick Perry to denigrate education at almost every level.  Unfortunately, what Texas politicians such as Perry tout as a great business climate is no more than a dumbing down of our Texas potential workforce.

With little outcry from the Texas Association of Business, Texas Republican leadership has cut funding for public education by over 5-billion dollars, requiring larger classrooms and lower paid teachers, as well as higher local property taxes. The Republican dominated State Board of Education appears to give more attention to religious belief and fundamentalist concepts than to the teaching of science-based curriculums.

Presently Texas has the most minimum wage paid workers in the United States. There has been an unrelenting effort in Texas to deny injured workers access to the courthouse; and most of our Republican leaders consider the right of workers to organize themselves into unions as un-American.  At a time when most developing nations of the world have doubled-down on high-tech jobs fostered by forward-looking programs in education, Texas has continued in the mistaken belief that we can have decent education in our state “on-the-cheap.”

While our state political leaders at election time claim great concern for education, they continue to support such things as voucher programs which detract from funds available to our public education system.  They have supported the abolition of pre-school programs and at the same time failed to adequately provide for growth in our public system of education. College tuition has continued to rise while student aid is lessened each legislative session.

While I agree with Hammond’s assessment that if present trends continue Texas will look more like a third-world country than a progressive, forward-looking, modern state with high-paying, high-skilled jobs, I call on Mr. Hammond and his fellow members of the Texas Association of Business to quit giving lip service to those who seek public office in Texas in the belief we can have a Cadillac system on a Model-T budget.

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