Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bill White Says, It’s Not Right To Blame The Recession For Education Cuts

Bill White has sent out an open letter to Texans commenting on the massive education cuts planned by Gov. Perry and the Republican controlled state legislature that Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden -- a Republican who Rick Perry has described as the smartest budget man he knows -- has said will “decimate public education" in Texas:

Two years ago a blue ribbon panel with conservative business leaders appointed by Governor Perry reported that Texas “faces a downward spiral in both quality of life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population.” The panel focused on the need to increase college attendance and to improve higher education.

Governor Perry’s budget proposes a 20% cut in state support for higher education. For the impact of the current proposed budget cuts on specific student aid programs and colleges throughout the state, click here.

Please circulate this information to other Texans, and let your elected officials know what you think about this. You can also join the discussion about these cuts on the Facebook page,

It is not right to blame the recession for these cuts. It is just common sense: the state's economy hasn't gone down by 20%!

These cuts reflect a lack of leadership and planning for the future.

The education of our workforce is the most important investment in Texas' future. My dad came off a subsistence farm with help from the GI Bill, and a scholarship I earned opened the door to a college my family couldn’t afford. But the current budget proposal cuts student assistance by 41%. Even support for community colleges won't be spared during a period when their enrollment is surging.

In the last decade eight countries have caught up with or tied the U.S. in the percentage of young workers with college degrees. Texas has been lagging behind other states.

If you love our state like I do, please share this information with other Texans.


Bill White

For weeks now, there has been a steady stream of news stories about school districts laying off, or planning to lay off, hundreds or thousands of teachers as Texas legislators more closer to slashing billions from the state education budget for the next two years. Many districts have already started to fire administrators and other non-teachers, but is clear that many teachers must be fired given the deep budget cuts. As Texas parents become increasingly worried about their children's education Republicans are tell them to "move along, nothing to see here..."
The Statesman: Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, a group that advocates for lower taxes and less government spending, has been making hundreds of thousands of [robo-]calls to voters around the state in an effort to push back against school districts that say the state’s budget shortfall will force them to lay off thousands of teachers.

Michael Sullivan, the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, said his group has called about 350,000 households around the state, with an emphasis on constituents of the lawmakers sitting on the budget-writing House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees.

“Right now, public education bureaucrats are threatening to scare parents and teachers by threatening the classroom,” Sullivan says on the call. “Superintendents and school board members say they’ll start making cuts by letting teachers go. That’s irresponsible. The classroom must be protected. … Tell your state legislators to stand firm on cutting the budget and tell them that cuts must be made outside the classroom.”

Sullivan has repeatedly proven himself to be an effective communicator with the conservative grass roots. Earlier this year, Texas Monthly named him one of the 25 most powerful people in Texas politics.

The argument from Sullivan and other conservatives is that cutting the budget won’t force schools to let teachers go, but rather that schools need to stop spending so much money on non-classroom expenses. An oft-cited number around the Capitol these days is that school districts employ as many non-teachers as teachers, but educators say most of those non-teachers are the people who, for instance, drive the buses, serve the food and clean the buildings.

Read the full story at The Statesman.

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