The Future of Texas' Public Schools. (Spoiler Alert: With Dan Patrick, That Future is Bleak.)

Houston Republican Dan Patrick -- a conservative radio shock jock and founder of the Tea Party Caucus in the Texas Senate -- is vowing to lead the charge in the next session of the Texas Legislature for a school voucher system that would give away tax money to private and religious schools.

That's public money taken away from public schools. It's a back-door attack on the very foundation of public education in Texas. It's a way to run the public school system into the ground.

So who is Dan Patrick to us? Oh, nobody, really. Just Florence Shapiro.

Shapiro, former mayor of Plano, head of the Senate Education Committee, announced in September she would leave the Senate after 19 years.

Patrick had confused and enraged his fellow tea baggers last July when he endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst against Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate last July. The Teapers couldn't fathom why their boy would do a thing like that. But all mysteries were solved earlier this month when Dewhurst paid Patrick back by naming him to succeed Shapiro as the powerful Senate education boss.

Hey, Shapiro was no angel where libtards like me are concerned. She was plenty far right on a lot of stuff. But, damn! She wasn't a radio talk-show nutball. Shapiro was actually smart and thoughtful on the plight of public education in Texas, only from a political perspective that was way around the dial from people like me.

Now we're really in for it. Patrick is an ideological warrior. His plan for school vouchers doesn't even pretend to give a damn what happens to public schools. In fact it's a raid on the vault of public education and, as such, an insurrection against community values themselves.

Why else would we even consider taxing ourselves, collecting the money and then allowing the legislature to give it away to a bunch of private and religious schools? What about these ideas, instead? First, how about having the damn private school raise their own money if they're so good at what they do?

What is they call that? The conservatives have a word for it. It's on the tip of my tongue. Oh, yeah. The market! I thought they believed in the market, where anybody who's got a product or a bright idea goes out into the economy and tries to see if he can sell it. All of a sudden, the whole market thing is off? The only way these wonderful private and religious school can make it is if we collect compulsory taxes for them?

Or how about this? If you don't like public schools and you really do want to get rid of them, how about taking that idea to the voters? Kill the public schools, yay or nay. We could do that. I think it would require amending the state constitution in Texas, but there are ways to amend the constitution.

How about going at it straight on and honestly instead of trying to drill the locks in the dead of night, pretending it's somehow for the good of public schools? What is that logic anyway? You mean you're going to help public schools try harder by stealing all their money?

At a certain point, this stuff becomes an attack on America itself. It's coming from people who looked out the window ionbe day, saw an America that no longer looked like the post-World War II all-white America they remember so fondly, and decided, "If it's not all for us, let's take it down."

When do we wake up to the real nature of this threat?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze