Friday, June 3, 2011

A Fourth Grade Texas History Lesson

Do Texas lawmakers not know the Texas Constitution? Or do they think Texans can't read? Or do they just not care?

After the jump, a lesson in fourth grade Texas history.

Article 7 of the Texas Constitution:

Sec. 1. SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

The Texas Constitution says *duty*. Not nice to have. Not only if you're rich. Until Texas voters elect to change their Constitution, lawmakers are obliged to support an efficient system of public free schools. Texans put it in their Constitution to keep lawmakers from mucking with public schools because lawmakers don't want to pay for them. It's a guarantee. Maybe lawmakers think they're still in compliance because there's always Mississippi to compare Texas's sorry state of public school funding to? I can't think of how else to explain what State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) told The Austin American-Statesman in an interview:

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the school finance change "is a true cut in an entitlement" and an essential cut at that. "There are no guarantees, and for a Legislature to say we can guarantee this forever is not being straightforward to the people."
"I think it's a change that is needed as we move forward. We need to have real cuts," Patrick said.
"Times have changed," Patrick said. "We have an obligation not to give easy answers but to give straightforward answers."

Given the $4 billion cut in education funding Patrick and his fellow GOP lawmakers are making in the budget, one thing is likely. The next generation of Texans won't learn as much about the Texas Constitution as past generations learned -- which, judging by Patrick's words and actions, may not have been all that much in his case, either.

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