Let's check in with the SBOE - the Texas State Board of Education - you know, that government body that The Dallas Morning News's Jacquielynn Floyd once called a "whacked-out troop of underqualified ideologues ... [who] make us look like a bunch o' goobers in the eyes of the whole nation." That was thanks in large measure to SBOE chairman Don McLeroy, the Bryan dentist who once argued that the good fit between humans' upper teeth and lower teeth is evidence of Creationism (apparently, he never saw my children's orthodontist bills). Texan voters and their schoolchildren scored a rare victory at the ballot box in 2010 when McLeroy was defeated by Thomas Ratliff in the Republican primary, who went to win the general election.
New SBOE board member Thomas Ratliff has been reasonable, rational, practical and accepting of the principle spelled out in the Texas Constitution that "A general diffusion of knowledge [is] essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people." In other words, Ratliff has been a breath of fresh air compared to Don McLeroy and his "bunch o' goobers" who had been in control of the SBOE (and this session, the legislature itself) for too long.
Thomas Ratliff has published a long list of statistics about public schools in Texas that demolish a lot of the conventional wisdom that is being used to justify the funding cutbacks Austin is subjecting public education to. The full article must be worth reading, but unfortunately, I can't find the full article online. The next best thing is Paul Burka's report, which quotes extensively. Go there to read the statistics that support Ratliff's conclusion:
"Many people are asking that our schools do more with less. I would argue that they already are. The problem we will face, when you keep asking them to do more with less, is, before long, you are just stuck with less. Our children deserve better. It's time to tell Austin and Washington that we want our local schools back."
Then, do as Ratliff says and contact Reps. Angie Chen Button, Stefani Carter, Sen. John Carona and Gov. Rick Perry and tell them to quit sacrificing our schoolchildren on the altar of their tax cut ideology.
Keep it courteous, keep it clean, keep it on topic,
and always advance the conversation.