A lot of votes, including educators’, are being taken for granted


If you are an educator or just about any other middle-class, working Texan, you can find a lot about government to complain about. Your local property taxes continue to soar. You may be discovering the added irritation and growing expense of toll road bills, even as you continue to spend hours every week trying to crawl through clogged traffic.

You may have lost count of the officeholders, including the Tweeter-in-Chief, who deny proven facts, including the science behind global warming, in favor of embracing political fantasy. And if you are a teacher, the U.S. House of Representatives just gave you a big slap in the face by voting to kill that very modest $250 tax deduction you have been getting for buying school supplies for your under-funded classes.

I could go on, but you probably get the idea.

All problems that negatively affect our daily lives and our children’s futures are the consequences of elections, the consequences of electing officeholders who would rather preach ideology or pander to fear and ignorance than actually try to govern. They also are the consequences of not voting, which thousands of Texans fail to do, because of indifference, frustration or intimidation.

Property taxes are sky high because officials like the governor and the lieutenant governor would rather waste political energy trying to tell a handful of transgender school kids where they can’t use the bathroom than adequately pay for classrooms for everybody’s children. They want to preach their own perverted brand of “morality” and pass the buck on what really counts.

Texas roads and highways are overloaded partly because of our growing population but also because of the refusal for years of most elected officials to raise the taxes necessary to address the problem. Instead, they stole some tax revenue from education and health care, transferred it to highways and suckered the public into thinking that would help speed up your drive home. It hasn’t.

They also embraced tolls and now are wailing crocodile tears because tolls have soared and become so unpopular with toll-payers still stuck in traffic.

These inane government “leaders” who neglect our schools, highways, health care and basic childhood safety – Child Protective Services also is under-funded and many kids still are vulnerable – nevertheless are shameless. To distract from their own deficiencies, they may quote the Bible. Then they bully and spread hate against law-abiding, hard-working immigrants, transgender citizens and low-income women in need of health care. I am not talking about abortion rights. I am talking about basic, life-saving health care that no longer is available to many women because clinics were shut down under the guise of fighting abortion.

Who elected these officials? Lots of people did. Look in the mirror. You may have been one of them.

If so, they have been taking your votes – or your indifference about voting — for granted. They have been doing it for a long time. And if you are a teacher, the U.S. House majority just did it again by taking away your $250 tax deduction.

If you are tired of all this, there is something you can do about it. There are elected officials and candidates out there who really do want to meet our education, transportation, health care and other important public needs, but they have been out-numbered by those who take your votes or indifference for granted. Another election is around the corner, beginning with the March party primaries, and it is time for more educators and middle-class Texans to start voting in their own best interests for a change.



Taking Confederate names off schools is not denying history


Austin ISD’s announcement that it will rename several more schools that have long carried names associated with the Confederacy has fanned more controversy over how we address that period of  our country’s history. Intentionally or not, some protesters to the name changes continue to misunderstand or misstate what the issue is all about.

One commenter on TSTA’s Facebook page accused AISD officials of trying to help children forget history, and a couple of other commenters seemed to agree.

“Changing the name of a school is like the Civil War never happened…and teaches kids that you can change history to fit your narrative,” she said, missing the point entirely. The reason that the schools were named for Confederate figures in the first place was to deny history, to deny or downplay the fact that the reason Texas and the other southern states fought the Civil War was to protect slavery, a particularly extreme form of racism.

AISD is not denying the Civil War or the roles that many Texans and other prominent Southerners played in it. AISD, instead, has decided that it will no longer honor the memories of those individuals.

If you don’t like that change in policy, that’s your prerogative, but don’t claim it’s a denial of history. The real deniers of history were the 20th century defenders of the Confederacy who tried to whitewash the real reason the Civil War was fought.  Many years after the war had ended, these individuals and groups  supported erecting statues and naming schools for Confederate figures in an effort to cover up history with their own self-serving fiction.

There is nothing heroic about defending slavery or racism, and AISD officials recognize that.



Tax bill would kill deduction for student loan interest, promote vouchers


Elections have consequences, and some more of them are showing up in anti-educator and anti-student provisions in the tax bill drafted by the Republican majority in Congress.

Not only would the bill repeal the $250 tax deduction that under-paid teachers are now afforded for purchasing classroom supplies out of their own pockets, it also would kill the deduction that teachers and millions of other Americans have been able to take for interest on their student loans.

The interest deduction has been as much as $2,500 a year, but it would be wiped off the books. That would increase costs for college loan borrowers by as much as $24 billion over the next 10 years, according to the American Council of Education, which represents 1,600 colleges and universities.

The tax bill also would promote a back-door approach to private school vouchers by allowing taxpayers of any income level to set aside as much as $10,000 a year in tax-free accounts for expenses at private K-12 schools. These tax breaks, which would benefit the wealthy more than anyone else, would drain federal dollars from government programs, including public schools, where the vast majority of children will continue to be educated.

All in all, the tax bill is a poorly disguised attempt to further enrich the top 1 percent and corporations at the expense of educators, students, their families and other middle- and lower-income taxpayers. Use the following link to tell  your representative in Congress that you oppose this bill.

Urge your member of Congress to oppose this tax bill

GOP tax bill would kill deduction for student loan interest




Educators who punish flag protesters are violating the Constitution


The issue of not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance as a form of political protest provokes a lot of controversy. Many Americans, including many veterans, are offended, and that is understandable. The president can tweet his outrage, but educators must follow the law. And the law gives every American, including students as well as NFL players, the right not to stand for the pledge.

If students want to sit quietly during the pledge or kneel on the sidelines of the football field while the national anthem is being played, teachers and coaches should leave them alone. And if their school administration has a policy that denies those rights, they should demand that their school board change it.

I bring up this issue for two reasons. First, it is wrong for schools to deny the constitutional rights of any student. And, secondly, if they do they may very well find themselves wasting taxpayer dollars defending against lawsuits they never should have invited and will eventually lose. See the story linked at the end of this post.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a case from West Virginia ruled more than 70 years ago – in the middle of World War II — that requiring students in public schools to salute the flag or recite the pledge was a violation of their First Amendment rights.

American soldiers were dying then to defend those First Amendment rights, and many more have died since. Many Americans, especially veterans and their families, understandly are upset or enraged by what they see as disrespect for the flag. But the rights that veterans served and died to defend included the right of all Americans to peacefully protest by taking a classroom seat during the pledge or a knee during the anthem.

I always recite the pledge and stand for the anthem. But I am a white male who hasn’t experienced a history of the prejudicial behavior that some flag protesters, their families, friends or communities have experienced or may still be living through.

You don’t have to agree with the flag protesters, but as long as they are acting peacefully, respect their right to do so and leave them alone.

2 Texas students sue schools to freely protest the pledge





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