Wendy Davis Won't Fix Texas' Biggest Problem: Its Broken Public Schools System
Hey, look, all you fellow libtard lifelong Democrats out there, and I am talking to both of you, I want to believe in Wendy Davis as much as you do. Wouldn't it be wonderful? I'm singin' it now. But there's one big wave on this ocean that can still toss me out of the boat even in my lust to reach blue state shores. It's the same moral tsunami that dumped me overboard 100 years ago from the good ship Ann Richards.
The damn children.
I'm all for making Texas a better place for grownups, 100 percent in favor, but only after we make it a better place for kids. The only big practical window we have to do that on a scale of significance is in public education. And what public school children in Texas plainly need is more rigor in general and more college-readiness in particular.
According to ACT, the non-profit group that prepares the ACT college readiness exams used broadly across the country, more than three-fourths of Texas high school graduates fail to meet minimum college-readiness standards. But everything I have seen so far about Wendy Davis puts her on the wrong side of children on this issue.
On her own web site she brags that she helped ultra-conservatives like Houston Republican Dan Patrick pass Texas House Bill 5, which seriously watered down college-readiness rigor for public school students in the Lone Star State: "With the passage of House Bill 5," Davis tell her constituents, "teachers and administrators will be assessing their children with far fewer tests but with a curriculum that makes more sense in preparing kids for higher education and the workforce."
Yeah, that would be the new curriculum law she helped pass ordering Texas school districts to make 25 percent cuts in their graduation standards for science, math and social studies. It's a little hard to figure how that is the kind of additional rigor the kids need to get beyond burger-flipping later in life, although one of the sponsors of the new lower standards, Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock, Republican of Killeen, says children in Texas schools will still be welcome to take the courses that used to be required for graduation, only now as extra credit. "I think there are certainly children who will make that choice," Aycock said.
Isn't that special?
Small wonder that Texas AFT, the big teachers union, has rushed to endorse Davis: "This year Davis fought and won the battle against unfair teacher evaluation measures making improper use of students' scores on standardized state tests," the AFT explained. "Thanks to her amendment, that language disappeared from the Senate floor."
As I say -- as I believe I have said before recently -- my beloved Democratic Party has led me down this same rose-thorned path before, a long time before, when they forced me to vote against Ann Richards for governor. Richards did the same Texas Democratic Two-Step with the teachers unions, pulling the rug from under education reformers including Dallas' own Sandy Kress in 1993, when he tried to get the legislature to implement more rigorous accountability standards.
In the end it always comes down to this basic question: do you believe, or do you not believe, that poor kids, especially poor urban kids of color, can be brought to full literacy and grade-level mathematical competence by the end of the third grade without spending new money, and that the single most important factor in achieving this goal will be teacher competence? If your answer is no, if you think it's all just way too much of a challenge, if you think we need to achieve the end of poverty and the beginning of world peace before we try to do that thing with the third grade, if you think the most important thing is making the teachers unions happy, then maybe you are a Wendy Davis Democrat.
If you are a Democrat and you think the answer is yes, if you genuinely believe and hope those kids can be saved, then I don't know what the hell you do. Vote for Greg Abbott? Hmm. Where is Kevorkian when we need him?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.