Several years ago, an old friend of mine told me that one would never win the Kentucky Derby riding a mule. If our leadership does not awaken, Texas will be riding a mule while other states are riding thoroughbreds.
Smart social scientists studying the demographics of our state are revealing some disturbing findings. Without a doubt, our state is becoming more and more Hispanic. In fact, it appears in the very near future that 78% of Texas’ growth will be Hispanic.
Conservatives--such as one of the Republican candidates for Lt. Governor--attribute this to lack of security on our borders. However, the demographers have analyzed it more scientifically. There are many causes, but principally, Anglos represent an aging population, including would-be mothers. Hispanic women are younger and more given to more births in the not-so-distant future.
Also clear is the fact we are denying an adequate education to our Hispanic population. In large measure the reason for this is that too many Hispanic Texans are condemned to live in very poor school districts. The Texas Legislature and current leadership prefer to hide their heads in the sand rather than address the problem. Even though citizens in poor school districts are taxed with a greater burden, it produces less revenue than patrons of wealthier school districts. This in turn ends up being reflected in the lack of opportunities for students in these poor districts. This alone is not the cause of the growing number of under-educated Texas citizens--but it is a significant cause.
It is estimated that in the not too distant future one Texan in four will not have a high school diploma. All of us Texans need to immediately recognize that it is to our advantage to assist in educating other peoples’ children.
Texas already boasts that among all of the states we are in the top five in low wage jobs. Almost every economic prognosticator of future success emphasizes the future of the American economy and wealth depends on knowledge and having a qualified productive workforce. It does not take a genius to figure out that Texas will not attract a great deal of high-tech industries with a low-skilled, poorly educated workforce.
So long as Texas continues to depend on property wealth as a principal source of our basic educational facilities, we will continue to have problems. While conservatives are quick to retort that you can’t fix education with money alone, they fail to recognize the fact that you can’t do it without money.
They also fail to realize the cost of ignorance is far greater than the cost of delivering a quality education.
The policy of having a state system of public education depending on funding by local districts of unequal wealth will always lead us to problems in equality and fairness--not the least, in more instances than not, it will lead to poor quality education for a significant portion of future generations of Texans.
Until Texans realize this and get over their aversion to any form of new tax, no matter how much better it may be than old taxes, Texas is destined to lag behind--not only other states of the United States, but the world.