Texas School Funding Crisis–Bright, Shiny Distractors, Part 1

by Dr. Jerry R. Burkett
Originally Published: March 24, 2011

If you are spending your time reading newspaper articles, Twitter feeds, and news channel web sites to get your information about the Texas school funding crisis, you are not unlike me.  I am not all that different from the average person who consumes news…with one exception.

I have a doctorate in education.  With that doctorate, as well as my work experience, comes a greater and deeper understanding of many of the aspects of education that perhaps most people do not posses.  A likely comparison would be my knowledge of how a hospital works.  Sure, I have been in a hospital but the day-to-day operations, budgeting, staffing, and reasons for policy and procedure are quite foreign to me…and rightfully so. Just because I have been in a hospital, does not mean I know how one works.

This same philosophy goes for the masses of people and politicians who are making suggestions and cuts to education without having anymore experience in education than the person sitting next to them.  It is often these individuals who we put in charge of such decisions when their only experience in running a school or school district is that they have either seen a school, driven by one, or know that there is one close to their house.

It just so happens that these same people and politicians serve to be influencing forces that are working to “fix” our funding crisis with absurd suggestions that are simply wrapped in utter lies and ignorance. It is overly apparent in the comments sections of the web sites that I visit for my news on the current funding crisis. If you are reading these articles, I urge you to take some time to read what the public is saying about education.  You will understand then what ignorance exists in this world related to the field.

Allow me to share with you some of the many myths about education that are being floated around the Internet and the media. I call them “Bright and Shiny Distractors”. I have provided for you the link to the article so you can see the ignorance for yourself. You’ll find the myths in the comments section at the bottom of the article.

Myth #1–It’s the Fault of Illegal Immigrants.
No, it’s not. It is true that the state population has grown and clearly most of the population growth is in our Hispanic population, however, the state funding crisis was not caused by an influx of immigrants from ANY country. Illegal or not, the Texas Constitution REQUIRES that the state provide education for ALL students (Texas Education Code–Section 4.001) It does not say “resident” or “citizen”, it says ALL.  You would need a constitutional amendment to change that.

Myth #2–There are Too Many Administrators
Well, there are if you count bus drivers, Pre-K Aides, cafeteria workers, custodians, and librarians.  These “administrators” are eating up too much of the budget and causing teachers to lose their jobs. The reality here is that certain groups want to you to believe that employees like bus drivers are “administrators” because they fall into the category of “non=teachers”. What this group is trying to do is get you to believe that the school district is preferring “non-teachers” over teachers in order defer the blame of teacher job losses on the backs of the school districts.  In actuality, administrators are principals, assistant principals, and administration level employees (Human Resources, Staff Development, Operations, etc…) who are all as necessary to help run our schools and districts.

Myth #3–Get Rid of Free and Reduced Lunch and We’ll Solve the Budget Crisis
Wrong.  Free and Reduced Lunch Programs are funded by the FEDERAL government, not the state government.  That means local tax dollars are not contributed to the breakfast and lunch program unless the school district elects to provided free lunches for all of their students. If you have an issue with this program, write your Congressperson in Washington, not Austin and please explain in great detail why you want to take food away from school children. For a lot of children in our schools, these are the only meals they get each day. Reality bites.

More myths coming soon.  Stay informed and spread the word.

Leave a Reply