Imagine if . . . Texas had enough money to update all public schools, pay salaries appealing enough to catch the eye of the brightest and best graduates, and provide state of the art materials and equipment. Imagine if . . . in such a world, private and parochial schools also requested state funding. I might stand at the front of the line to say, “Of course Texas can fund private as well as public education.” Unfortunately, we do not enjoy this luxury in Texas. So, how does reality look?
Reality means that August heat now rages with full force in Texas. In a short time, public school doors will open for any and all children. Regardless of economic status, race, gender, academic or athletic ability, health, or behavioral issues thousands of children can and will stream through the doors of public education.
I wonder how many of us realize that a handful of very wealthy families actively spend time and money toward destroying public education? Dick DeVos, husband of Betsy DeVos, once said, “When given a clear choice, voters across the U.S. have consistently opposed school vouchers.” DeVos continued by asserting that the grassroots movement must be kept quiet. He suggested using the term “school choice” and spreading the idea one person at a time. Think tanks funded by Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other mega-donors claimed, “Because we know how the government schools perpetuate themselves, we can design a plan to dismantle them.” Dick and Betsy DeVos plan to execute this plan. Please understand this effort for what it is: a movement focused on total destruction of public education. Continue reading
Each day, I remind myself, “We live in interesting times.” A second breath adds, “We live in frightening and uncertain times.” Can we depend on those in power to make positive changes? Maybe and maybe not. Can unimportant, unrecognized people — such as retired senior citizens hope to make even the most miniscule impact? Possibly but probably not.
Foolishly, I suppose, I think that the only genuine answer comes through living from a space of love. My closest friends suggest how silly I sound. I am reminded of the person seen throwing starfish back into the ocean. “Hey, man, don’t you know you aren’t making a difference?” The reply, as he threw another struggling form back to the water, “I made a difference for that one.” I too still want to make a difference.
So, for those of us who worry about:
- vouchers robbing low-income schools of revenue,
- guns overtaking sanity,
- conditions that continue to stack the decks against minority populations,
- wealthy augmenting their troves of riches while those in the middle income and below falter,
- destruction of the environment — the question remains, “What can we do?”
A major part of my adult life focused on supporting children in public education. I believed in public schools as a parent, a teacher, and later as a teacher educator at the university level. I continue to believe public schools form the bedrock of democracy; the hope for all children in this country. In the last few years, when Texas reduced school funding, I began to fear any bill that would deprive schools of needed money.
It sounds progressive to favor school choice. Equally pleasing is the backing that vouchers promise to parents who want their children educated in charter, private, or parochial schools. How can one be opposed to choice? What’s wrong with vouchers? Consider these facts before taking the leap away from public education. Continue reading