Image from the Texas Tribune
By now, you probably have heard that the just-concluded Texas legislative session included a massive $11 billion piece of legislation that overhauls many of the long-ignored issues in the state’s public education system.
Good for them.
Republican Governor “They Can Pry the Guns from My Cold Dead Hands” Abbott along with far Right radio host turned Lieutenant Guv “I wish I was Rush Limbaugh” Patrick, flanked by other right winged leaders of the state, made quite a show when signing the bill at a public elementary school (a place many of them have tried avoid like a Honduran asylum seeker coming over the Laredo border crossing).
The Republican Party is taking credit and calling itself the “party that gets things done (Expect that branding or something similar, to be used in the 2020 election.) Look kids, we passed some legislation like you elected us to do! We get things done!™.
Abbott stated at the bill signing: “You could not overstate the magnitude of the law that I’m about to sign because this is a monumental moment in public education history in the state of Texas. We did something that was considered to be highly improbable, and that is to be able to transform public education in the state of Texas without a court order forcing us to do so.”
The law, House Bill 3 (HB3) which includes increase in funding per student from the state, a teacher pay raise, property tax relief, and a controversial merit pay provision, pumps badly needed dollars back into a system that, for the most part, the exact same one Republican legislature has done its best over the years to slowly dismantle.
So they plugged some of the the holes on the leaky dyke of Texas public education that they have purposely ignored for years and have actually created most of the holes themselves. What heroes they are. They really “Get Things Done!™”
In their orgasmic celebration of actually doing something useful, they seem to have collectively forgotten:
- The billions of dollars that were eliminated from the public schools during the 2011 session that just now, HB3 makes up for, almost a decade later?
- The emphasis on Charter schools over the past 4 or 5 legislative sessions, where public schools had to fight for scraps like vultures while rabid Republicans engorged themselves on the ideas of funding charter schools at the expense of public schools and attempting to create a voucher system?
- Finally, that for almost the exact amount of time that the Republicans have been running the show in Austin, the state and federal courts have consistently ruled that the funding measures have been unconstitutional, and that students living in property poor districts have chronically been unequally funded compared to their property rich peers?
The Texas Republicans have, with HB3, tried to fix a set of problems that they themselves, over a period of decades, had created and then take credit for undoing the damage as if they were some kind of Anne Sullivan miracle workers.
Lookie here kiddos: We gave tax relief to overburdened local tax payers that we created because we didn’t want to pay for education using state tax dollars. Aren’t we good?™ We Get Things Done!™
Indeed, Abbott will use this “historic victory” as some kind of legislative miracle that only he and the other Republicans were able to accomplish. “We did something that was considered to be highly improbable…” Abbott said about the legislation.
This “miracle” is not unlike the arsonist who sets the fire, and then claims to be a hero for putting it out. This tactic seems to be a popular one with Republicans these days, as we have seen from the Trump administration which has created quite a few “fires” that it then tries to put out, saying that only their administration was capable of such a feat.
We have seen this from the manufactured crisis on the southern border that to the phony tariff war with China. (Don’t be surprised if a fake war with Iran is started as another fire that will be started to divert attention away from domestic legal issues.)
And while I suppose we should be somewhat grateful to the Republicans for even attempting to partially fix the education problems that they themselves created, one can’t help but wonder if they would have done ANYTHING had it not been for the recent gains of Democrats in the Texas house after the 2018 election.
Did Beto’s near defeat of “Look-at-me-now am-sexy-because-I-have-a-beard™” Cruz have something to do with their all-of-a-sudden come to Jesus moment of needing to reform education? Surely if they could have passed HB3 in 2019, they could have done so in 2017, or ’15, or ’13, or ’11…You get the idea.
They have controlled both houses of the Texas legislature for decades. Why now? What makes 2019 special? Perhaps the pictures of all those angry teachers marching on various state capitols because THEIR Republican controlled legislatures screwed them for years made some of those good old boys take notice.
More probably, the recent shift from red to purple in a once solid sea of crimson had more to do with it than any type of compassionate feelings towards Texas teachers or children.
Only time, and the 2020 election, will tell.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.