The public school finance crisis is waking up moderates from their Tea Party-induced slumber.

In the media business, we get paid to keep up with all of this government political stuff. Other people have lives. But I am starting to see signs that the Big Thing is finally hitting home with other folks, or, as we sometimes call them in the news business, real people.

Up until this very moment, I don't think many real people understood the magnitude or the ferocity of the attack being mounted on the basic institutions of our democracy by the ultra-right.

Now they see it. And they are stunned. Maybe even frightened. I hear trembling in voices.

Think about the gravity of the school funding crisis. Then look at the sneer on Rick Perry's face when he says it's not his fault. You've got the picture.
Zuma Press
Think about the gravity of the school funding crisis. Then look at the sneer on Rick Perry's face when he says it's not his fault. You've got the picture.

I saw it at a school board meeting last Thursday. Karla Rojas, mother of a student who has gone through the Dallas magnet school system, spoke from the public microphone—one of several parents making eloquent pleas on behalf of their kids, their kids' teachers, an entire school system threatened by a devastating statewide funding crisis.

She started out calm and collected, talking about the magnet schools in Dallas as a haven for smart kids—a place where smart kids can be normal and cool, where teachers know that a smart kid asks questions to satisfy curiosity, not to challenge the teacher's authority.

She had come not to bury the school system but to praise it. "Amanda has just finished auditioning for college theater and acting programs all over the United States," she said of her daughter, about to graduate from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

"Seeing her stand out at these auditions really brought home to me..."

And here her voice began to give way.

"... really brought home to me how important Booker T. Washington is."

The arts magnet, along with the entire magnet school program in Dallas, is in the tumbrel, rolling over the cobblestones toward the financial guillotine. And there was not a hell of a lot anyone could tell Karla Rojas to comfort her.

The upshot of the board meeting was that no one in Dallas knows what will happen. On February 20, Dallas superintendent Michael Hinojosa presented a worst-case scenario, based on an anticipated statewide shortfall in public school funding of $10 billion, which would have entailed gutting half the faculty at Booker T.

Nobody said it at the time, but the state mandates the teaching of certain basics—those teachers can't all be fired—so that level of gutting would require the firing of all of the arts teachers who make Booker T. what it is.

At last week's meeting, Hinojosa said the shortfall may be only $5 billion. Presumably Booker T. might scrape by with a gutting of only a quarter of its faculty—still enough to break the back of the program and break the hearts of the students, parents and faculty who have come to see Booker T. as a personal partner in their destinies.

But that's only half of the picture beginning to come home for people. The other big piece of the puzzle is the face of Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose attitude toward the school funding crisis has been cocky, sneering and dismissive.

It's not just about how bad the future may be. It's also the fact that our government is in the hands of people who are glad it's all falling apart. That was their goal all along.

Last week Perry told reporters he had no responsibility for the massive teacher firings ahead in most of Texas, in spite of the fact that his so-called tax reform in 2006 is exactly what produced this crisis.

In a column published March 3, "The New Predator Class," I reminded you that former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Republican, predicted this crisis five years ago with eery precision.

Strayhorn looked at the amount Perry persuaded the legislature to hack from state and local property taxes in 2006. She looked at the amount Perry had promised to restore to state coffers in new business taxes. Then she took into account the fact that Perry had reneged on that deal and failed to raise the promised business taxes.

Strayhorn couldn't have foreseen the 2007-2008 Wall Street meltdown. She estimated that our shortfall in state revenues in 2011 would be $23 billion.

This is 2011. The shortfall is $27 billion.

But last week, speaking in a sneering cocky tone, Perry told reporters that neither he nor anyone else in Austin was responsible: "The lieutenant governor, the speaker and their colleagues are not going to hire or fire one teacher, as best as I can tell," he said.

Perry suggested school districts cut something other than teachers—pandering to Tea Party dogma that all of the money is stolen anyway by bureaucratic grifters and cheats.

But in Dallas, 87 percent of the general fund budget is in money paid to campus personnel. The suggestion that it can be cut elsewhere is a callous shrug.

This is what's coming home: For Rick Perry and the people he represents, public education itself is worthless. It needs to come down. It needs to be devastated.

Next they will go after Medicare. Social Security. Even private pensions. Certainly collective bargaining. These are people who intend to turn to the American middle ground of society and kick its ass. And they're pretty far along.

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225 comments
MOZARTADEL
MOZARTADEL

MOZARTADEL 0 minutes ago

The Lunatic Fringe does not even use their own money in their effort to destroy this country.

Rightwing "Charities and Non Profits" that get Tax Payers Money from Grants.

All these Non Profits provide control of the press and use Taxpayer money from Grants to do it.....

.

American Family Associatio­­n they got $ 19,233,560 Million Dollars last year that is $82,777, 894 Million Dollar in the last 5 years.

Heritage Foundation got $ 63, 910, 593 Million Dollar last year that is $ 190, 085,156 Million Dollars in the last 5 Years !!!!

American Enterprise Institute got $58,988,98­­4 Million Dollars in 2008 and over $208,974,9­­89 MILLION DOLLARS the last 7 years!!

New America Foundation got $15,201,36­­7 Million Dollar and over $58,531,48­­0 Million Dollars the last 5 years!!

Pat Robertson’­­s American Center for Law and Justice got $13,291,86­­5 Million Dollars last year that is $ 57,586,400 Million Dollars the last 5 years !!!!

Pat Robertson and the 700 Club got $ 183,000,00­­0 Million Dollars last year that is $843,340,5­­45 Million Dollars in the last 5 years !!!

American Legislativ­­e Exchange Council –$27,229,3­­72 Million Dollars in 2009 and $37,134,80­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years.

Young American’s Foundation ---2008- $20,396,34­­8 Million Dollars and $99.978,49­­8 Million Dollars the last 7 years ! Like these people claim a Baby Blanket cost $450.00 on their return.

Church World Services got $68, 971,520 Million Dollars and $384,552,3­26 Million Dollars over 5 years!!!!

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

For those of you assholes who sat on your fat asses & did not vote against the Tea Party, I hope your lives are affected in a very negative way. You can piss and moan about the Tea Party & GOPigs fucking the public in the ass, but the fact remains, you let them win!

So, go fuck yourselves.

Tom Davis
Tom Davis

This is from the same Rick Perry that wanted to give teen girls a questionable vaccine from a drug company him and his pals had financial interest in? Wait did I say give I mean make it law. It seems the only time he is concerned about our children is when it is profitable. As soon as he won the election he was on a plane promoting his book. He won the election even though he had an advantage of 8hrs a week on the clock. Nobody I know voted for him but yet he won? I am talking about GOP that did not vote for him. People need to wake up there is no DEM. or REP. any more. Just a bunch of crooks looking to get more rich from us. As we fly more planes over Libya think about how many teachers each air strike could have paid. Oh yeah by the way the GOP has their man in office right now in Obama.Ron Paul 2012!

concerned mom
concerned mom

My son goes to great school in North Dallas and his school was not affected by the budget, but we have within the last 3yrs seen more illegal immigrants settle and their children go to school when half of them don't even live in the district. Most of which who have never been to kindergarden or 1st grade. If you didnt know, there isn't a law that a student have to go to kindergarden. So, there goes the "No child left behind" Bullsh*t. It's hard for a teacher to try and work with a student who does not understand anything around them and still have time for her other students. No offense, but I pay taxes and its disappoint me that people would actually consider taking those programs away, but yet they are constantly adding programs to benefit non-english speaking students and their parents (yes their parents) free of charge because it comes out o the budget. I know the lunch program benefits all, but you would be surprised at how many BMW's, Escalade's, Hummers drive up to the school and a number of kids (4 or more) get out and they are classified as low income (meaning free after school care, free lunch and english courses). Texas needs to sit down and re-evaluate their priorities.

Trey Merrill
Trey Merrill

The only thing you have to claim in Texas to win an elected office is that you support loose, unrestricted gun laws. It's sad really that they could care less about any other issue.

IHateLyingPoliticians
IHateLyingPoliticians

Maybe if people actually thought that the schools were well managed, efficient, and effectively taught kids, they wouldn't mind paying taxes to support schools. But with the mismanagement and waste in the educational system, I personally will not. When will people in DISD be held accountable for the credit card scandal, for renting meeting rooms in high dollar hotels, for useless travel, for the money wasted during the IT scandal, for 6 digit salaries for all those adminstrators, etc. How about being frugal with taxpayer money before demanding more?

Jleddy71
Jleddy71

too bad the article links the education funding crisis in texas to the right of public employees to bargain collectively IN OTHER STATES. That linking is exactly the strategy being used by the far right to clamp down on public schools and their teachers, people who HAVE NO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS, DAllas Observer. And as far as I know aren't even seeking them. We can see how collective bargaining is creating pension liability crises elsewhere, and we don't want any part of it! Why don't you do some really useful linkage. Each far right, anti public education wacko, and the polls, if any, in their respective school districts. How did moderate Republicans and Democrats get outflanked on this? If Perry's anti public education stance is so contrary to the popular will, how did he simply clobber a more thoughtful and well respected candidate in the Republican primary? What do we care about Fox's national polling?? How do people feel in Texas?

concerned conservative
concerned conservative

Looks like the Republicans are holding true to their "Pledge on America". Why is everyone surprised by this??? They told you that they were going to do this before the election. Enjoy your new found unemployment brought to you buy the Great Job Creators. You voted for it!

Cghjoyce
Cghjoyce

But you all seemed to vote just exactly this way...apparently the voters in Texas think its ok to take the state back a couple hundred years. (Are the voters that stupid because your schools are bad or are they just plain ignorant?) "The poor don't need no education if the only jobs they can get are cleaning toilets for the rich." "We have ours, and thats all we care about" said the rich lady whose children went to private school. "And besides, who will clean my toilets, and my house if we educate all those people?" In Texas, slavery may be gone but the rich whites still have the poor whites to boss around.

Carl
Carl

Yes we need qualified teachers. But we have so dam many that are there just for the money and the benifits that make it where the students don't learn at all except some dam test that has been designed as a standard of education. You ask what happens to all those who went to the univerisity to become teachers, there are opperitunities other than teaching. You say we are over crowding out schools because of people from other countries, not true because it these that are here illeagle were sent home with no education rather than with a bi-language teacher which takes from the legal students, we wouldn't have a shortage. I have a daughter that is a dam school teacher and have met many of her associates and they are all a bunch of dam idiots, yes idiots, they all think of themselves rather than the student. They all complain about pay over crowding and etc. None of them have common sense, and this is true about teachers in general. You teachers don't know how good you have it but you do know how to turn out idiots and thank that you did your best.

mskat
mskat

So what is going to happen to all the students that are planning on being teachers. Now they must chane their profession to something else. What a waste of money on their college. Is the state willing to refund or assist them in persuing another career. Perry is allowing TEXAS to go to HELL in that so-called hand-basket

Carl
Carl

As I have read so many of these comments I have come to the following conclusion. ! Teachers are big whiners, they expect that the public owes them something because the are they are teaching their children. 2. The budget problems are from asking for all the EXTRAS, unlimited after hour programs, Sports being the largest costly item with the travel, equipment, buses, bus drivers, coaches, land and buildings set aside for the few, not used by all who attend the public schools. 3. Lunch and Breakfast programs, If parents can or can't afford to feed their children its not the public responsibility to do so. 4. Bi-language instruction is not a necessary, we speak English as a main language and if the ones coming to the schools don't sent them home. 5. Busing of children is not a necessary, it is the parents responsibility to get their children to the schools, not the TAX dollars received for education. Busing was origionally designed for Farm Children who lived miles not blocks from the school. 6. We have more senior citizens paying school taxes than we do of the parents that have children in school. Senior citizens and the Baby Boomers that are retireing should not be paying for all of these children to be able to go to school. Most Seniors have already gotten their children out of school and their grand children, its time to start running a school like a business not like a welfare system. MOST OF YOU COMMENTING ON THIS DON'T HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY WHAT SHOULD BE SAID, THAT BEING SAID I HOPE THAT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM CLOSES AND ALL HAVE TO DEFEND FOR THEMSLEVES.

Ed
Ed

I have been pondering this issue for better part of a month.

I think it’s a way for people to bring back a segregation of sorts. What, I am mean is that they gut the funding of schools to the point, that they say gosh how awful the schools are, the kids are out of control,. They cannot read, etc… I am not going to send my child there; I will send them to a private/Christian school, so they will be with other children from likeminded parents. Not exactly a melting pot. Then the folks will mad\ke more cuts in schooling because they are spending X amount of dollars per child on their private education in addition to property taxes. The vicious circle keeps going and going. It’s a form middle of class flight and segregation, not a melting pot and exposure to all people and kinds.

I am not against private education but I am against the cockeye idea of education that started in Texas: teaching children to pass a standard exam, vs. thinking and reasoning and or course learning.. Thank you, Gov Bush for that and brining it national.

Jcoveney
Jcoveney

Cutting the education budget is little more than a de facto tax anyhow.

I think most responsible parents are going to be reaching into their own pockets to help fill budget gaps as much as possible. You can say you aren't increasing taxes but that is semantics in this case.

I just "donated" $41.04 worth of clorox wipes, kleenex and post-its and I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg.

MICHELEFRITH
MICHELEFRITH

im not much into politics...but i am a mom of two children, and an american, who pays my taxes!!! the problem in the schools ( which i noticed more than 5 years ago) is that it is OVER-POPULATED!!! my children are suffering the consequences!!! we in america are literally cramming more and more kids into a classroom, and their education is going to sh@#!! i just hope your child is a genius , cause if they need a little xtra help in something, GOOD LUCK , trying to get that!!! everyone knows WHAT the problem is now....come on already!!!! ANY CLUES???

Carl
Carl

If we cut out activities like sports totally then the short fall on budgets will disappear. Travel expense, maintenance expense, and used by few students. This is the most costly part of public education and learning to play a game is not really education. Get back to the basis and teach all how to read write and do math and we will have children that can exceed in several ways. But if we keep the sports then the few that are allowed to play we will have a chance to do nothing but spend money on nothing worth while on these children

Cccourt1942
Cccourt1942

When the 87% of school budget is stated (for instruction) no one states how much is ACTUAL instruction and how much is middle and upper management. These are the REAL budget problems: TOO heavy at the top with outrageous salaries. A superintendent of schools paid like CEOs with multiple "assistants" are ridiculous. But when you walk into a school and see 5 to 10 people in a front office, you can readily see the waste.

JE
JE

If Perry took half the budget he spends on his hair and gave it to schools we probably won't have any layoffs.

Jillkhall
Jillkhall

"87 percent of funding goes to campus personnel" in Dallas, huh? How many of those are actually teachers? At my local high school, 98 of 243 positions are non-teachers. Think there might be room for cuts there - without hurting the teachers? And you can bet the Principals, Assistant Principals, Associate Principals, Counselors, Athletic Directors and Diagnosticians make more money on average than the teachers do. Plus, there was not a single coach who was not ALSO a teacher. Yes, these dedicated folks teach all day, then coach the kids in the evenings and weekends for games. Same with the arts teachers. The crappy part about the cuts is that it's the administrators making them and they're not about to look in the mirror first.

Rr_richardsoniii
Rr_richardsoniii

Education = R.R.R.s Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Extra Curricular = Extra. The simple solution to this Education Crisis would be to keep the Educators to educate the students. Eliminate every thing with Extra in it, including 13 footballs coaches on the sideline to coach a football game. If the parents of the students who desire extra curricular want them, then let them pay for it.

NikNak Hagar
NikNak Hagar

It's about time MOST Texans who do not share the views of the Tea Party resonate, "The Eyes of Texas are upon you, and we intend to appropriately fund our Schools."

orlando garcia
orlando garcia

i think rick perry needs to go back to school because appearantly he didn't learn a thing. The same people that got him into office are the ones being affected by the cuts being made in education. It seems that he feels threatened by the possibility of being ousted soon and is just trying to fatten his pocket book by doing what the republicans are urging him to do before he gets beat. Education should be our number one priority because afterall it is our youth who will be in charge of our future, so lets give them as much knowledge as possible. of coarse this is just one crazy mexican's opinion!

Jcoveney
Jcoveney

So Rick Perry and the republican controlled legislature can't balance the budget without ruining public education?

That's not really balancing the budget.

asfsaeve
asfsaeve

Typical libtard. You need to move back to California. Oh yeah - they are bankrupt too.

J. Browning
J. Browning

This article is still another wake up call to those of us in the U.S. who have sat by while the extremists continue on their path to tearing this country apart. They mistakenly think they can put it back together again better..... Of course, they cannot. But by the time this becomes apparent, it will be too late to save the programs which show common sense, compassion and caring.

miketaylor
miketaylor

why can't the parents pay for their education if not to bad.

Real Person
Real Person

I am a real person Mr. Schutze, and I disagree with the majority of your points you just tried to make by both stretching facts and not using facts.

Gary
Gary

Oh yes, let's try to figure out how to tax my a s s more to spend on all the bull*&^% do nothing jobs created by the politicians. Make them live within a budget and stop screwing the people who work and pay taxes!!

Miss
Miss

That's right, you sniveling, whining left-wing snot-rag. Blame FoxNews, blame the Tea Party, blame the Republicans, Blame everybody but the leeches that caused this. Your ilk, the unions, teachers' unbelievable benefits and pensions have caused this. When 87 percent of total funding is wasted on personnel costs, how do you think that could possible be sustained? It can't. The teacher's union have sucked sown every last cent intended for the kids' education. Now it's time to pay the piper so to speak. The GREEDY UNIONS have caused it; let them suffer the consequences. You should like a Chatty Cathy doll, pull your string and out comes the uber-leftist senseless, inane drivel that adheres to the time-worn false liberal Democratic dogma. Blame somebody else and spend other people's money. But not mine.

Carl
Carl

Yes it takes one to know one, that is Idiot thanks alot as i appricate you assining concern but wake up and smell the roses. you must also be one of those F00king teachers

Texas moderate
Texas moderate

Obviously, you didn't listen to "dam" [sic] teachers. Most of the “dam” [sic] teachers could have taken better “opperitunities” [sic] but chose to take less money to educate our kids. I admire the sacrifices that teachers made to educate me. By the way what is an “illeagle”[sic]?

conscience
conscience

Carl, how many kids do you have? How much money do you make in a year? How far do you live from the school? Where were you educated? Were you educated? You are a friggin idiot! What you speak is not courage it is stupidity. School is a SOCIAL PROGRAM it CANNOT run like a business. Just like SOCIAL SECURITY is a social program that cannot run like a business. People like you really need the prayers of kind hearted Americans who still believe the values that this country was founded on. Let's all pray for Carl he REALLY NEEDS all our prayers. Dear God, please give Carl a heart, oh, and please help him to grow a brain too. Amen...

Cghjoyce
Cghjoyce

See, like I said. The people in Texas are really ignorant. And you are a prime example.

mskat
mskat

They are not whining, the are right. When was the last time you went to Austin to defend them. WTG teachers Keep fighting for your rights. We need all the teachers we can get. So many people coming from other countries and we dont have enough teachers.

Lilly
Lilly

And now our Great State is voting to add more to the classrooms...because of funding issues, not immigration. They see the bottom line that each child costs and adding one or two, or even ten more per class can't really hurt us. Just the future!

conscience
conscience

Whatever, do you have any idea how much money the sports programs bring into schools? There are so many people who think they know about schools but they are just like Fox news reporters. It's all opinion and faulty logic supporting it!

Lotusgriffin
Lotusgriffin

So you want only the wealthy to have access to the arts and sport.. Kinda Elitist

feralgrognard
feralgrognard

As usual I notice the common and most essential element need to accomplish the usual Yes we can mourning.

How to do it specifically, and, most importantly, with what and whose money will it be done Comrade?

Promises made up of empty words are truth betrayed by each line and verse. Precious moments in times of plenty reversed to a life of not enough for o, so many, seems like a never ending curse when ignored and willfully unforeseen in this new not enough for o so many world, as it comes rushing down a darkened path of empty promises by o so many.

Living life with but empty words made up of unaccomplished promises brings orange summer that turns to winter cold. Have sympathy for this tired old hyperbole for all it has left is a burning hole dug by empty words and not enough money made up of empty promises and unwilling foresight by o so many.

feralgrognard
feralgrognard

As usual the yes we can crowd indoctrinated with blinders rises to the level of its altered reality. They say as usual Go to the big pay check bank in their utopian sky and then are shocked to find out it is empty with only one choice raise taxes and fees.

As usual two elements being blinded from view from this crowd use to “money for nothing”, there is a real world reason why now nearly every State and local community within the United States are making cuts to employees and education, like, for example, the Latino Republican Mayor of Miami Dade who was recalled, because he gave pay raises to city employees and raised taxes. Second, if money really equates to a better quality education, then why, pray tell is it our students score so poorly nationally and internationally? But more importantly the new American Reality, unacceptable to the Money for nothing crowd, and, it’s “No Hard Times Generation Narcissi, is the pain in their future where more want money that is not there now and for the foreseeable future.

Self sufficiency and responsibility comrade that your new 3rd world yes we can paradigm, get use to it. Godly willing only for a dozen or so more years maybe.

This is day 7 that yahoo has Phished this rags bi-line under its local new tab, I still wonder why and for what purpose?

Mac
Mac

Public education ruin itself. These school districts need to be run like a business not like the government.

Lotusgriffin
Lotusgriffin

"libtard"s as you put it- have not been running Texas- that would be Republicans....They made this mess. Own it.

Jleddy71
Jleddy71

If you can find an actual teacher's union, 'Miss', one with collective bargaining rights and active in a school district in which teachers must join it to be teachers, if you can find such a union, I will pay you $5,000.00. But here's the catch ... you have just one week to find such a teacher's union. And after 5 days, if you do not find a PUBLIC SCHOOLS teacher's union in ANY district among Texas's thousands of districts, then you owe me $500.00? Pretty good deal, wouldn't you say? You only have to put up $1 for each of my $10.I do thank you though. You so perfectly exemplify the point the Observer and some of the letter writers make, that Fox News and right wing talk show radio have successfully linked the public extortion process mislabelled collective bargaining rights of public employees, IN OTHER STATES (than Texas) to the very simple demand that public education, as mandated by these same folks, with all their constant testing, with all their requirements that EVERYONE has to be educated, that even the emotionally disturbed and seriously learning disabled, must have access to adequate educational opportunities, that they provide the adequate resources for these mandates.

Glorified Babysitter
Glorified Babysitter

There are no teachers unions in the state of Texas. It is illegal for teachers to form a union in the state of Texas. Teachers are also the only state employess that do not receive state benefits that all others do. Teachers pay for their medical coverage and it increases by an average of 10% each year. This year due to Obama's healtcare reform it is going up by as much a 20%. Most people that talk about how easy teachers have it, have no idea how much teachers do for your kids.

frank
frank

i'll believe a teacher working for less out of the kindness of their heart when i see it.they get 3 months in the summer, 2 weeks christmas (at least) spring break, etc, etc, and the average salary is 41k +. yeah i'd take all that paid time off for 41k + a year. more than i make now and i only get 2 weeks. (and i have masters)

Carl
Carl

Yes you are right but it take an ignorant to spot an ignorant and you seem to be doing a good job, keep it up and mabey you will learn something

Carl
Carl

there are city leagues availiable

Lotusgriffin
Lotusgriffin

If schools are businesses where's our ball out?

Jcoveney
Jcoveney

Not my kid's public elementary school. By every measurement it is a great school.

NikNak Hagar
NikNak Hagar

Which businesses Mac....Wall Street?

Schools need to be run using the money allocated by taxpayers perhaps more like a church. School personnel are very aware how important it is to be good stewards of taxpayers money, corporate and private foundation grants and even the money collected by PTA's or PTO's through various bake sales and garage sales. Teachers still buy supplies for students who need them. Sorry but the phrase run it like a business "that dog don't hunt anymore." When a business receives an order than doesn't meet the quality it was expecting, the product is sent back. We welcome every child no matter the level of ability into our schools.

 
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