I am a strong advocate for our public education system. What a great endeavor to educate our entire population! Education is a win/win for everyone. All of society and each of us as individuals benefit from a good education and well-supported, fully funded educational system.
If you think our schools are not performing well, then you’re only hearing about a small percentage of our schools. According to Pastors for Texas Children, one of my favorite organizations due to its bipartisan make-up, the number of struggling schools in Texas are approximately 1-2 percent of the total schools in the state. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to many.
Further, our state legislature continues to underfund, take away funds, and mislead us about the funding of our schools. Depending on your district, a small portion of your property tax actually goes to your local schools. The state has claimed most of it for other use; again, not what we really expect for our property tax use. It’s supposed to fund our local schools.
Currently, there is a proposal to give teachers a thousand dollar pay raise statewide, but there has been no provisions from the legislature to actually fund the raise. Local school districts may be required to implement the raise, but with no ability to pay for it other than cutting personnel and services elsewhere. That’s not right.
So, how do vouchers come into play here? They take money, already in short supply, from our public schools and give it to private schools, without accountability to the taxpayers. Accountability aside, the biggest problem is that Texas schools are not fully funded to begin with.
We’re asking teachers to perform miracles everyday, which they do. But, that is unfair. It’s like Pharoah asking the Hebrew slaves to make bricks without straw. You might be able to do it, but how much better could it be if you were given the resources you need?!
Teachers work hard. They are our friends, neighbors, family, and faith community members. Let’s not insult them or demean them – and I’ve heard them insulted by our state legislatures far too much.
Finally, let’s give every kid a chance to have a great neighborhood school. It’s better for their community and it’s better for all of us when we are committed to making education for all a priority.
Rev. Mary Wilson is pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park.