Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A line in the sand

I've told anyone who'll listen, for the past 6 years or so, that Rick Perry is the worst governor Texas has ever had. If you know anything about the sorry bunch we've had in Austin for the past 150 years or so, you'll know that's saying something. Texas peaked with San Houston, ran him out of office in order to join the Confederacy, and it's been downhill from there. Perry is currently obsessed with courting the tea party-types so much that he's in denial about Texas' $27 billion deficit and has decided to balance the budget by gutting education funding. The fact is, under Perry's slash-and-burn, my way or the highway approach, Texas' already underfunded schools will not be able to deliver quality education to Texas students. This isn't just the poor school districts--even the traditionally wealthy, high-performing districts will be staggered by these draconian cuts.

Fortunately, there may be signs that Texans are finally waking up to Perry's snake oil and realizing that destroying an entire education system to prop up a run for president probably isn't a good trade-off. And educators--even those with genuinely conservative political outlooks--and seeing Perry's plans and saying "That dog won't hunt." Perrin-Whitt CISD Superintendent John Kuhn makes a particularly eloquent plea to stop the madness, one that should resonate with all Texans:
From: John Kuhn, Superintendent, Perrin-Whitt CISD
To: Senator Estes, Representative Hardcastle, Representative Keffer, and Representative King during these grave times:

I am besieged, by a hundred or more of the Legislators under Rick Perry. I have sustained a continual Bombardment of increased high-stakes testing and accountability-related bureaucracy and a cannonade of gross underfunding for 10 years at least and have lost several good men and women. The ruling party has demanded another round of pay cuts and furloughs, while the school house be put to the sword and our children's lunch money be taken in order to keep taxes low for big business. I am answering the demand with a (figurative) cannon shot, and the Texas flag still waves proudly from our flag pole. I shall never surrender the fight for the children of Perrin.

Then, I call on you my legislators in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy of public schools is declaring that spending on a shiny new high-stakes testing system is "non-negotiable"; that, in essence, we must save the test but not the teachers. The enemy of public schools is saying that Texas lawmakers won't raise 1 penny in taxes in order to save our schools.

If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and fight for the kids in these classrooms like an educator who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his community. Make education a priority!

With all due respect and urgency,

John Kuhn
Perrin-Whitt CISD
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