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.