It's been a significant number of months since I typed "www.livejournal.com" into my address bar. It's been even longer since I considered posting something. But I actually have something to ask of the residents of Texas.
Anyone that's looked at the Texas state budget proposal knows how royally screwed the education system truly is. Whoever said teaching was a stable career was a fucking liar. Our district alone is facing an 8 million dollar deficit AT MINIMUM. It could be as much as 32 million. Or more.
Governor Perry is claiming Texas is a beacon of economic prosperity; meanwhile, 40% of the faculty at a local high school is about to be fired. We're capping class sizes at 40 students, and fine art, early childhood, and support services are being cut completely out of the budget. Thousands of teachers are about to be laid off, and with the lack of resources and support those who keep their jobs are being expected to function without, quality of education in our state is about to plummet to the point of no return. Any standing we had as a state of prosperity is about to be revoked. The best way to keep a state stable and growing is to invest in infrastructure, and that includes education.
None of this is enough to convince our legislatures that it's time to pull from the state "rainy day" fund. We're not asking for much; just enough that the districts in Texas can still function. But to use that money would be to admit that there's a problem. Maybe Texas is doing well so far in this economic crisis, but how long can you expect that to continue if our educational system is nothing more than glorified baby-sitting? We need to be demanding higher standards of our teachers and supporting them, not placing them in no-win scenarios like a class of 40 students without enough chairs for them to sit in.
Think about the consequences: if a teacher has that many student in ONE class and over 220 overall, what is the likelihood that teacher will be interested in designing quality lessons or assessments? How is a student going to be able to pass a TAKS test when they had to share prep materials with another student?
I wish I could remove myself from this scenario, but I can't. While this is the first year I have heard nothing about closing Quest for good, our early college grant only lasts for another year, and we're being forced to cut staff as well. There's no telling what may happen a year from now if the district has to recover from a 31 million dollar deficit in this year's budget. On top of that, legislatures in Austin are writing a bill that would really discourage colleges from partnering with high schools for early college programs. The awards and grants Quest earns for this district will not save us from being cut in this kind of crisis.
Basically, education in Texas is totally screwed if the budget, as presented to the legislature, passes. Now, we all know I'm not exactly the most "Pro-Texas" person. If I said I was surprised by this ridiculous crisis we are in, I would be lying. This state has never been one to invest in education, although they do claim to be pioneers in the field. And while the state gave us horrible initiatives that lead to NCLB, and personalities such as Rod Paige, I do believe in education, and I believe that the proposed cuts have to potential to completely decimate our education structure. We are proposing to rob the children of Texas of a decent education, and that is not alright with me.
So here's what I'm asking, citizens of Texas.
If you disagree with the route we're going, and if you disagree with the proposed cuts to education, I urge you to write to your representatives. The only way to stop the proposal from being accepted is to let our legislators know that we find this unacceptable. Our governor is completely denying that there is a crisis in Texas, and he seems perfectly fine with destroying what little educational infrastructure we have left. That "rainy day" fund is there for a reason; we're in the middle of a hurricane and it's time we use our resources to get through the storm.
Write your representatives. We need to use the rainy day fund. We need to avoid more cuts to education that we simply cannot afford to make. Districts in Texas often get less state aid than any other states, so we're talking about a significant cut to an already struggling system.
Find your representatives here.
So yeah. This is really just a plea to get people involved. There's a protest in Austin in March. More information on all of this stuff can be found here if I'm not convincing enough for you.
So yeah. That's really all I've got. If you care about this, write. If you don't, write. If you think I'm an idiot, just move on.
It boils down to this: Texas has no right to deprive its students of quality education, and we are the only people that can stop it at this point. Our legislators need our voices. If you love Texas and want it to continue being strong economically, that will only happen with investment in education. We're not talking about raising taxes or anything. We just need the resources that are available to be utilized to avoid catastrophe.
Current Mood: hopeful