Worry about fake “education reform,” not “fake news”


Dan Patrick knows a lot about fakery because that’s what he peddles. You know, fake “education reform.” A fake “public safety emergency” over who uses which bathroom. Last year, there also was a fake teacher “pay raise,” which fooled no one.

Now, it’s kind of amusing that he is complaining in a campaign radio ad about something he calls “fake news.”

I don’t know what prompted this particular tirade, other than the need to throw some more red meat to his base, but it’s disturbing how much political mileage Patrick can get from whining about how he allegedly is “mistreated” by the news media.

“The press has always been biased against conservatives, but what we are seeing today is total disregard for the truth. It’s fake news,” he says in his ad.

Attacking the media is an ageless political ploy, and it’s much easier for a politician like Patrick to do than proposing a realistic solution to a real problem, such as…say… inadequate school funding.

The media mainly is biased against political baloney, and Patrick obviously has a problem with that.



Teachers deserve real appreciation — now, next week and beyond


Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, a reminder of the important work that teachers do every day, work that is vital to their students, to their communities and to everyone’s future.

Teachers will appreciate the special works of art, the gift cards, the lunches and the heart-felt words of appreciation they will receive from their students, parents and principals.

But Texas teachers deserve more. They also deserve appreciation from their governor and legislators, and I am not talking about the hollow, suitable-for-framing proclamations that amount to little more than a pat on the head.

I am talking about real appreciation.

Real appreciation, as in a meaningful pay raise that will make up much of the $7,300 deficit below the national average.

Real appreciation, as in more state funding for their classrooms and students, who now lag $2,300 below the national average in financial resources.

Real appreciation, as in less standardized testing for their students and more time for teachers to do what they do best – teach.

Real appreciation, as in less intrusion from self-styled education “reformers” and more input from the real experts, the teachers, in the setting of education policy.

Every week needs to be Teacher Appreciation Week, at the statehouse as well as the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is covered, but the statehouse remains a challenge for teachers, parents and everyone else who truly values public education.

I hope Texas teachers enjoy the genuine tokens of appreciation they will receive next week from their students and parents. Then I hope they all will send a message to the statehouse on Election Day – a message that clearly spells out what real teacher appreciation means.

Vote Education First!


Teacher pay in Texas isn’t “average”


When is “average” not average? It’s when we are talking about teacher pay in Texas. That’s when “average” becomes deficient.

I have seen a couple of references lately about how Texas’ teachers are paid about “average” among the states, the comparison being based on the fact that Texas ranks 29th in average teacher salary, according to the latest survey from the National Education Association. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia pay their teachers more, and 22 states pay their teachers less.

But this ranking is not only mediocre, it also is misleading, as any Texas teacher knows.

Average teacher pay in Texas, in cold, hard numbers, is $53,167. That’s $7,316 below the national average for 2017-18, and that’s worse than mediocre. That’s shameful. And it’s going in the wrong direction.

In 2016-17, teacher pay in Texas ranked 26th, and it was $7,085 below the national average.

Among the 10 most populous states, only Florida and Georgia paid their teachers less than Texas in 2017-18, according to the NEA survey.

Average teacher pay in New York was $83,585; California, $81,126; Pennsylvania, $67,398; Illinois, $65,776; Michigan, $62,702; Ohio, $58,000; and Georgia, $56,329.

Texas teachers need and deserve a raise. But the only way you are going to get one and improve overall state funding for your schools is to show up in large numbers at the polls and vote for state candidates who will give you more than lip service. Vote Education First!



Dan Patrick disputes the truth about his war on education


As the entire education community knows, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his political allies, including Gov. Greg Abbott, declared war on public education a long time ago. And by education community, I don’t mean the pro-voucher and pro-privatization crowd because they are part of Patrick’s army.

Now, stung by recent editorial criticism, the lieuteuant governor is trying to strike back by renewing his war on the truth.

Last week, the San Antonio Express-News published an editorial about the severe financial plight of local school districts, including North East ISD, and laid the blame squarely where it belongs – on state government’s failure to adequately fund public education.

Headlined, “The state’s war on public education hits home,” the editorial pointed out that the state’s share of education funding is projected to fall to 38 percent in the 2018-19 school year, which begins next fall, increasing the school finance load on local property taxpayers.

The newspaper also criticized Patrick for his phony-baloney (my term) proposal to provide property tax “relief” by putting crippling limits on the ability of school boards and other local governments to raise property tax rates for needed services, such as the schools that Patrick and his allies refuse to adequately fund.

Patrick, in a published response emailed to political supporters, struck back. Among other things, he denied that the state’s share of funding had dropped to 38 percent. He called the figure a “myth that continues to be repeated over and over.”

The 38 percent figure, though, is not a myth. It is a projection from the Legislative Budget Board, the budget-writing arm of the Legislature that Patrick co-chairs, of the share of the Foundation School Program that the state will be contributing during the 2018-19 school year. The remainder, 62 percent, will be borne by local property taxpayers. That’s even worse than the current school year, when the state is paying 40 percent and local taxpayers, 60 percent.

The Foundation School Program doesn’t include federal funding. But even with federal funding, according to the Texas Education Agency, the state, as of the 2015-16 school year, was paying only 41 percent of school funding. The federal government was paying 10 percent, and local property taxpayers, 49 percent, the biggest share.

The state’s share of education funding has been slipping and the local share increasing for several years, including the entire time Patrick has been lieutenant governor and Abbott has been governor.

Updated rankings released by the National Education Association this week show that Texas spends $2,300 less per student in average daily attendance than the national average, ranking Texas 36th among the states and the District of Columbia. And average teacher pay in Texas has slipped to 29th, $7,316 below the national average.

“The problem here is the state has done nothing to address its byzantine, antiquated, severely broken, but somehow constitutional, school finance system,” the Express-News wrote in its editorial.

And sitting at the top of that state government are Patrick and Abbott, who keep turning their backs on school children and local property taxpayers.

The only way to remedy that is to vote…and Vote Education First!

The state’s war on public education hits home




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