If you have listened to the radio in Houston over the last few days you have undoubtedly heard the latest commercial bashing the cuts that are going to be made in Texas. The commercial has a young teacher (with valley girl accent) saying that we should dip into the rainy day fund to avoid cuts to education. But the last sentence in the commercial is the most important…paid for by the AFT. I will get to the meat of the issue in a bit, but it is important to know who the AFT actually is. The American Federation of teachers is a public sector union affiliated with the AFL-CIO. They are essentially a propaganda arm for the Democratic Party that lobbies government. Of their $2,322,200 in contributions to political candidates during the last election cycle, a whopping $500 went to a single Republican candidate. Since 1990, they have given 25,682,800 to political candidates, of which $200,000 has gone to Republican candidates. I found it interesting that Obama’s corrupt friend Alexander Giannoulias was high on their list.
The AFT also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Healthcare for America Now, which was a leading organization pushing for Obamacare.
As most of you know, the Texas State Board of Education this past year stood their ground against attacks of the left…in particular anti-Christian groups from the left, and revised the social studies curriculum (textbook content) to more accurately reflect our history. The AFT’s current President, Randi Weingarten, released the following (disturbing) statement on what they accomplished.
“The Texas State Board of Education’s highly politicized rewrite of its social studies curriculum is profoundly disappointing. The public schools are maintained as a public trust. They were created not only to help prepare students to pursue the American dream, but also to help prepare the future citizens who will shape, defend, and protect our nation’s democratic heritage. It is a role that was first envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, who argued persuasively that each of us should be equipped to make our own decisions on what would “secure or endanger” our freedom. It is, thus, doubly troubling to find that the Texas State Board of Education has chosen to write Jefferson out of our nation’s history. How can we expect our students to defend the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence without also learning about the man who wrote it and why? Can we expect them to fully comprehend the horrors of slavery and the terrible Civil War that arose from it while euphemistically calling the Atlantic slave trade “the Atlantic triangular trade”? For teachers to feed students personal ideology, indoctrination or propaganda masking as history is to violate the principles of a profession dedicated to opening inquiring minds and fostering the critical thinking good citizens need to function in our democracy. This reprehensible substituting of personal ideology for truth and fact will take the children of Texas back in time. It will harm our nation’s efforts to give them a world-class education. Worse, this skewed view of history will be reflected in textbooks, curriculum and achievement tests used in Texas-and even spread nationwide if the textbooks are purchased by other states. Ironically, this outrageous misstep could come at the precise time when Texas should be joining virtually every other state in adopting common academic standards that are unbiased and factual. Teachers need to teach kids the truths they ought to know to be knowledgeable, responsible and thoughtful citizens-not parrots of selected biases and distortions.”
What the school board actually did was take out a lot of selected biases and distortions that were already present and add in a few things that the left are very afraid of…like our Christian heritage and the dangers of Keynesian economics…and the real effects of the New Deal policies. But this should come as no surprise when you realize that one of the early members was John Dewey. He was one of the founding fathers of the progressive movement in the early 1900′s.
Randi Weingarten is just carrying on the public sector unions’ strong tradition of fighting education reform. The Wall Street Journal did an interview with her which revealed this very fact. She stands against voucher programs, charter schools and reformers such as Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein just as her predecessors have. At least she has not made a statement like Albert Shanker who said “when it is the children who start paying dues to the union, I will start representing their interests” But in the end that is what she is doing. (as a side note this article talks more about Mr. Shanker…the comments are pretty informative too)
So that is who is spending money here in Texas to ensure that we continue to blindly spend more tax dollars instead of reforming the system…which leads to the meat of the issue. We have a 24 billion dollar deficit to cover. Cuts have to be made. The last I read we will end up using some of the rainy day fund, but that does not cover the deficit and it does not fix the root causes of why we have a deficit. So that would be my answer to this particular teacher. Are you really fixing the problem by just throwing more money at it, or are you just feeding it. The answer is obvious. Everyone that has teachers in their family such as myself knows that there is a bloated bureaucracy in the education system. If we do not address it now, then when. The Congressmen in Texas are making the tough budget choices that have been ignored in the past and are still being ignored on the national level. But they are also providing other ideas to help the local school districts out. The adds being put out by the AFT are misleading to say that legislators are just cutting spending to address the problem (with only teacher job losses mentioned…not the bureaucracy). This is a political ploy from the left that hopefully people will see through. And people looking at the facts I think will.
Take this quick example. Here are 12 bills introduced by Rep. Dennis Bonnen to address some of the problems. He is not my representative, but from what I can see he is a pretty good one. I think most will agree with these ideas
HB 2491: The “Teacher Support Act” suspends all state- mandated testing for two years and allows the funding associated with this testing to be spent supporting teacher jobs and providing teachers with consumable resources for classroom instruction. Each child will continue to be tested in the classroom over their regular studies as normal.
HB 1634: Political subdivisions, including school districts, are not required to implement or enforce state mandates if they are not provided the appropriate and necessary funding by the state to comply with the mandate.
HB 2796: Repeals the existing requirement for school districts to develop a coordinated school health program in grades K-8. The program is time-intensive and costly and local districts feel that the needs can be met without it.
HB 2797: Eliminates the requirement that school districts conduct safety and security audits of district facilities every three years and report results to the Texas School Safety Center. While the goal of this mandate is laudable, it is unfunded by the state and can be much more effectively addressed by local districts with the best interests and safety of their students in mind.
HB 2798: Texas institutions of higher education currently receive a twenty-percent discount on utility rates. This bill extends this discount to public school districts.
HB 3006: Grants local school districts the ability to reduce the required 180 days of instruction by up to ten days without having to apply for a waiver.
HB 3007: Eliminates the expensive, disruptive and time-consuming mandate for school districts to assess the physical fitness of students through the “FitnessGram” program.
HB 3008: Provides school districts the flexibility to reduce teacher salaries by up to ten percent. If the school district chooses to employ this option, this bill prohibits them from laying off teachers other than instances of termination for good cause.
HB 3009: Removes the requirement for random steroid testing of high school students participating in UIL competitions.
HB 3010: Requires that make-up testing for state assessments be scheduled on a weekday to eliminate the extra cost of administering the test and utilizing facilities on a Saturday.
HB 1076: Repeals the 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio for remediation provided to students who fail state assessments. This bill does not impact student-to-teacher class ratios.
HB 233: Makes state assessment tests optional for students in grades 4, 6, and 7 who exceed the passing standards on mandatory assessments in grades 3,5, and 8 by at least 100 scale score points.
Please pass on this information to help set the record straight.