Teacher Appreciation Week made me think about my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Alexander. He kept us interested singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” in between hard math problems we scratched out on the blackboard while everybody gave advice. I’ll never forget acting out Hun invasions to learn about European history, or how he taught us to polka during recess. I also remember how Mr. Lane had our AP classes read Crisis in Black and White to understand why affirmative action helped people catch up after years of oppression. These dedicated teachers changed my life and helped make me the professor I am today.
Almost everyone is grateful to teachers, but look at how Texas government treats teachers and public education. The state has reduced its share of funding K-12 education to a pittance, with most of the cost borne by local property-tax payers. Worse, the state’s share is even lower than the 38% it claims. Included in that number is the state’s funding for charter schools. The state provides 95% of charter-school funding but only 31% of funding for traditional public schools. Texas loves to brag about being a low-tax /low-services state, but if it doesn’t even fund a third of education costs, our services are too low! Meanwhile, homeowners bear an ever-higher tax burden, with student population increasing every year while the state’s keeps shrinking.
If elected, I will not only support State Representative Donna Howard’s legislation requiring the state to fund 50% of the cost of public education from general revenues, but I will also support State Senator Kirk Watson’s “Honesty Agenda” to make the state’s finances more transparent to voters and taxpayers.
I appreciate teachers in Texas who buy school supplies out of their own pockets, work one or two extra part-time jobs to make ends meet, and do their best to teach, despite expensive and destructive state-imposed high-stakes testing. They shouldn’t have such burdens. The state must pay our teachers a fair wage, give retirees defined benefits and cost-of-living increases, and eliminate high-stakes testing, saving taxpayers a bundle and allowing teachers to teach students and the subject—not the test. Our schools deserve help at the ballot box, where we must elect education-friendly candidates. Teachers support our most valuable resource—the people of Texas. Let’s support them! I’m proud to have the endorsement of teacher groups, including Texas State Teachers Association!