Cadillac system on a Model T budget

Bill Hammond, the president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, issued a prediction this week. By 2040, if current trends continue in Texas, one-third of Texas adults would not have a high school diploma, Hammonds said. His concern strikes me as being very similar to the little boy who killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy before the judge on the grounds he was now 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 potential workforce.

With little outcry from the Texas Association of Business, Texas Republican leadership has cut funding for public education by more than $5 billion, 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 workers in the United States. There has been an unrelenting effort in Texas to deny injured workers access to the courthouse, and for most of our Republican leaders, the right of workers to organize into unions is un-American. At a time when most developing nations of the world have doubled down on high-tech jobs, fostered by education and 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 that siphon funds from our public education system. They have supported the abolition of preschool programs and fail to adequately provide for growth in our public system. 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 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.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas, including many regarding consumer safety. His e-mail is cap1934 [at] aol [dot] com.



A Call to Pursue Due Diligence

Admittedly, there will be a decrease to the Texas education fund based on reformulating the method in which the state revenues are to be allocated. But, should we dismiss the FACT that expenditures in state education has increased 76% while enrollment has increased 21% since 1999? Should we also overlook the fact that for every teacher in the classroom there is an additional employee that does not directly contribute to the education of the student? Or, should we ignore the FACT that local bond funds that were to benefit the students within our community were not accounted for in a responsible manner? FACT is, the $5 million cuts in education can easily be accounted for if honesty and integrity were embraced in the day to day operations of the state's independent school system. And, why should any taxpayer trust any politician who is incapable of prioritizing while habitually reflecting the inability to adhere to a balanced budget?

As for true concern for the workers within the state, why not look inward and determine why Port Arthur, TX is failing . . . . miserably. Could it possibly be due to the mentality of the Democrat party powers that be who are strangling the life out of free capitalism? Otherwise, why is it that a proud author embracing the Democrat party ideals not live by example; establishing an exemplary, competitive business endeavor in the service or manufacturing sector?

All in all, how can the people within the state have any confidence in the future with the current political mentality that has been on the losing side for much too long. Politicians have, for too long, led the state and the nation in a fiscal and monetary mess. And, unless one recognizes the political failures (and flagrant disregard of decency), it won't be possible to start anew with the basic foundation needed to re-establish a strong future consisting of, by and for the people . . . eliminating the remnants of crony politics and the concept of redistributing the wealth via social and economic justice.

And, exactly why would it not be worthy to consider a voucher system that would encourage open and fair competition between the education provided by 'the state'; an educational system that incorporates the national nanny state mentality VS an educational system operated on the basis of sound business practices that focuses strictly on education. With a voucher system, both educational systems would be funded by taxpayer funds . . . . but the end results regarding performance of education would certainly be targeted . . . . as opposed to the current state system that toys with (B)lue (S)ky visions of full employment, food programs, after school programs, field trips, conventions, curbside transportation and building programs.

One final consideration: Education is a perpetual process . . . for life.
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