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Tremble, Texas! Your Legislature Will Convene!

The Texas State Legislature is expected to begin January 11 and run to the end of May. It happens at least every two years. A number of bills have already been publicized, and it is clear that the legislative majority has not changed its direction nor its methods.

Foremost of all considerations is school finance. Many news reports and speeches begin with, "The Texas Legislature will have to do something about school finance..." Schools are underfunded, particularly because the state funding has largely evaporated and left local property taxes holding the bag. For generations, Texas has failed to provide equal opportunity for all children, and it appears that the Legislature plans to continue.

Texas has over 1000 "independent" school districts. The present system takes some of the local property tax money from the 12% wealthy schools and distributes it among the 88% less fortunate schools in order to provide some equity in financing. The wealthy schools have raised a tremendous fuss, and they have convinced a number of other schools to join their clamor for a different system. Many people, naturally, see the solution as increased funding from the state.

The majority leaders in Texas have made it clear that they intend no such solution. In fact, they were able to find a contorted study that concluded that there's plenty of money for all Texas children already! They quote it endlessly. Much worse, the Governor has let the public know that his idea of "reform" is to implement right-wing schemes that would actually make the public school system much worse. Charter schools which have been totally discredited by the right-wing's own standardized tests, would be increased by the Governor. Voucher plans would "cherry pick" the wealthiest students out of the public schools altogether. The Governor's plan makes no mention of providing any more state money.

The right wing plan is to destroy the present funding system, lower property taxes without providing state money, and put lipstick on a flim-flam pig and call it "reform."