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Mon Jan 7, 2013, 12:43 AM

Rick Perry Versus the School Children of Texas

The conservatives of the Texas legislature are about to try again to fool the state's taxpayers into funding private schools with a voucher program. The Republican argument, which falls apart under scrutiny, has been that no child should be condemned to attend a failing public school. No conservative wants to talk about why the public school system might be troubled, however, nor do they contemplate the even greater long-term damages to be wrought by school choice.

All of this present and future harm belongs at the feet of shortsighted conservative politicians. As Governor Rick Perry was preparing to run for the GOP presidential nomination, he pushed the legislature to approve a $5.4 billion budget cut in Texas education. His transparent goal was political, and simply to build upon a no tax reputation, which, unsurprisingly, came at the expense of school children. The consequences of such a funding reduction were easily predicted. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Perry's money slashing occurred just as an additional 84,000 new students were entering Texas' public school system. School districts around the state were forced to reduce their operational expenses and had to fire 11,487 teachers and eliminate 15,000 staff positions.

The impact of this civic disaster might have been mitigated if Perry had urged the legislature to tap into the estimated $6 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund. Instead, he continued with his fatuous contention that Texas needs to leave that money untouched in case of a natural disaster. The questions might easily be asked, "If it's not raining when we have to take $5.4 billion away from the education of our children, when in the hell is it raining? Do animals have to be walking in pairs?" The Rainy Day Fund, incidentally, was created by the Texas legislature to be a revenue source to help public education during difficult economic times. Natural disasters were not mentioned in the legislation.

The natural disaster claim by Perry is patently false, regardless. The federal government funds most natural disaster assistance and before the Rainy Day Fund can be used in such a fashion both the Texas House and Senate would need to approve with a two-thirds majority, which is wildly improbable for almost any issue. In any case, Perry didn't even ask them to consider the move after the Bastrop wildfires but he hid behind the natural disaster explanation.

more... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-moore/rick-perry-education_b_2421776.html

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