During his State of the State address, Governor Perry stated that Texas graduation rates are at an all-time high – among the best in the nation. However, the future of the Texas public education system is far more bleak than the glowing portrait Perry painted. As legislators we do need to provide students the skills needed to be successful, but Perry’s plan is not the answer.
The Governor stated that he wants more charter schools and vouchers. He referred to scholarship programs as an alternate choice for students that are locked into low performing schools.
Note: Perry and Republicans are calling vouchers “scholarship programs” – don’t be fooled. This scholarship program is just “vouchers lite” – the camel’s nose under the proverbial tent to privatize our public schools.
Charter schools have their place and there are some successes, but far from a proven track record. Vouchers should not even be part of the public education conversation. The primary focus of the public education discussion should be on restoring the huge $5.4 billion public education cut from last session. That massive budget cut has led to teachers losing their jobs and overcrowding in classrooms. AISD lost $60.7 million over the biennium.
Governor Perry also called for a Constitutional Amendment to create a mechanism to return tax money back to the people who were taxed that money, when the state brings in more than needed. Why not use this “surplus” to fund our struggling education system? This didn’t work for George W. Bush and it’s bad for Texas in the long run. Governor Perry has shown again that he is out of touch with the needs of Texas.