For Texas Schools, doing without is the decision Republican politicians made for everyone


Rick Perry worries more about helping meatpackers crank out Pink Slime – than schools

In Texas, this has been the year of doing without. Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next.

The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways — increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said.

Like chief executives of struggling corporations, superintendents have been cutting back on everything from paper to nurses and have had to become increasingly creative about generating revenue. They are selling advertising space on the sides of buses and on district Web sites, scaling back summer school, charging parents if their children take part in athletics or cheerleading and adding periods in the school day so fewer teachers can accommodate more students…

“It’s almost like slow death,” said the superintendent, Douglas Killian, during a visit to Veterans’ Hill, where the classrooms are now used by adults as part of a higher education center run by Temple College and Texas State Technical College. “We’re being picked apart. It’s made a tremendous morale issue in the district…”

Several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide…Gov. Rick Perry said he saw no need for a special legislative session to restore some of the education funding that was eliminated last year and said the schools were receiving an adequate amount of money…

We’re being picked apart,” said Douglas Killian, the superintendent at Hutto, which eliminated 68 positions.

But many public school advocates, parents and administrators said the reductions that districts had made — and were considering for the next school year — had reached an unprecedented level, even as enrollment and testing requirements have increased. Hundreds of districts have sued the state in four lawsuits, saying that the school finance system fails to adequately and equitably pay for public education in Texas…

At Hutto High School, Eric Soto, a world history teacher who is also the head softball coach and assistant volleyball coach, worries about the bottom line about as much as he worries about his classes and his games. He makes fewer photocopies, to save printing costs. He helped sell advertising space along the fence on the softball field, to bring in extra cash for the team. When teaching, he turns on only one of the room’s two light switches, to save on electricity.

Meanwhile, Big Oil enjoys the benefits of a Republican-controlled legislature. 30 years ago taxes from oil and gas accounted for 24% of the tax revenues for the state of Texas. Now? 6.6%. Rick Perry and his bubbas take care of the corporations that bankroll their political careers.

RTFA. Beaucoup tales, anecdotes of what struggling school systems do to get by because the state legislature figures austerity requires the maximum number of schoolkids suffer.

At a time when the United States is capping off a 30 year decline in economic position; when the real wages of America’s workers extend to the 3rd and 4th decades of less and less to live on — the response from conservative politicians continues to be the imposition of austerity upon every chance of increasing a working family’s worth. Look for a job with skills no one needs anymore. Pay for your home at the same rate determined when it was worth twice as much.

Structural unemployment looks to be rising to a 7% minimum. The politicians and paymasters inside the Beltway and Congress may or may not think folks need a better education to get a competitive job – but, they surely don’t care.

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