Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thousands Of Texas Teachers Will Not Have Jobs To Return To In The Fall

Throughout the month of August, The Texas Tribune will feature 31 ways Texans' lives will change come Sept. 1, the date most bills passed by the Legislature — including the dramatically reduced budget — take effect. Check out the Trib's story calendar here.

The Texas Tribune - DAY 1: Thousands of Texas teachers will not have jobs to return to in the fall:

Just a month before the end of the school year, Bryan McClintock, a special education teacher with the Little Elm Independent School District, was told that his contract would not be renewed in the fall. McClintock had anticipated he might be laid off because he has only taught for two years. He saw the writing on the wall during the special legislative session, when lawmakers passed a school finance plan that cut $4 billion from districts statewide.

Though legislators encouraged administrators to keep as much money as possible in classrooms, the majority of public education dollars are spent on personnel — meaning job cuts can't be avoided. During the legislative session, The Associated Press reported that up to 100,000 of the state's 330,000 teachers might lose their positions. Officials at the Texas State Teachers Association estimate that about 12,000 teachers have lost their jobs so far, and they warn more teachers could be laid off in the second year of budget cuts. The Austin Independent School District has already given pink slips to nearly 500 employees.

Read the full article @ The Texas Tribune .

A new Gallup poll finds, overall, that only 34 percent of Americans express a great deal of confidence in the nation's public schools, continuing a record low that began in 2005. In the 1970s and 80s, that number never dipped below 40 percent. Forty-three percent of Democrats said they were confident in the school system, compared with 19 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans. People tended to rate their local schools better than the overall system. See the poll's full results here.

Why have the American people lost confidence in our public school system? Because so much of what the read about public schools is negative.

A large number of conservative think tanks and advocacy organizations today are pushing a conservative agenda to privatize public education, which means replacing public schools with schools owned and run by private corporations. Private eduction corporations are pushing school privatization legislative agenda in all 50 states through these think tanks and advocacy organizations, and especially through ALEC. (See ALEC Exposed) Messaging strategy originating from these conservative groups is intended to denigrate public education, suggesting to the American people there is something inherently wrong and broken in our "government run" public school system and it must be replaced by a privatize "for profit" education system. That messaging has been picked up and forwarded by much of the main stream media, while at the same time the media ignores the voices of teachers and others in the community. (see: Larry Miller's blog "Beware of the Heartland Institute: Brought to you in part by the Koch Brothers")

The conservative legislative strategy, facilitated through ALEC, is intended to throttle public school funding to the point that it must certainly fail - thus proving the conservative ideological talking point that no government run program, not even the public school system, can function successfully. An education privatization bill, sourced from ALEC, was introduced in the Senate during the 2011 Texas legislative session. That bill called for unprecedented privatization of Texas schools - dramatically expanding the charter school system and privatizing hundreds of schools. This privatization scheme would bleed billions more out of public school funding - leading to a near certain collapse of the public school system.

Few people realize that the nation today graduates more students than it did in the past. In the 1920s, for example, a mere 20 percent of the population had a high school degree. By 1960 that number was up to 50 percent and today, the national average of 74 percent - thanks to the public school system.

A strong and adequately funded public eduction system in America has always been looked upon as a system that defines the ideals of equality and freedom in the individual. The public eduction system has been the foundation of the ideal that anyone is able participate in the American dream and rise from rags to greatness through education. Is America now to put a toll gate on that American dream? Those who are not already wealthy enough to pay for K-12 education may no long participate in the American dream? This is the American dream conservatives would have Americans buy, literally!


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