Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas in Texas

The Texas Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, cut $5.4 billion from funding for public schools in 2011.  This action prompted 600 Texas school districts to sue on the grounds public schools are so poorly and inequitably funded that is violates the state Constitution.  Violating the state Constitution is no mean feat, and the last lawsuit to claim such violations ended up giving us the completely screwed up school funding system we have now.  Which the Lege only made worse the last time they were in Austin, which was 2011.

Now the GOP leaders of the Lege, in their infinite wisdom, want to give more money to private schools, because education should be all about "choice."  It's an argument that blithely ignores the choice private schools get to make about who can enter their classrooms and who can't, which is why private schools consistently claim to do better by their students; it's largely because they select the better students in the first place.  The GOP also wants the power to close down underperforming schools more quickly; an interesting power, since the Lege makes sure in as many ways as it has that even well-performing schools are as underfunded as possible, and that the system of funding is as inequitable and as inadequate as they can make it.  They also want to allow students to cross district lines to go to other schools, a proposal that is laughable in Texas were school districts are independent.  "Independent" means each school district raises taxes within its boundaries to pay for the education of students living within those boundaries.  Unless the Lege is going to increase funding dramatically for all school districts, or pay the difference so the cost of educating Johnny in a school where is parents don't pay taxes is offset, this plan will either never pass the legislative process, or prove such a nightmare all 1265 Texas school districts will have to sue the State.

And into this mess steps State Rep. Wayne Bohac, R-Houston.  What is his solution to this crisis?  Win the War on Christmas.

No, I am not kidding.

State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) pre-filed legislation to protect the freedom of Texas Independent School Districts to acknowledge and educate students on the historic and cultural roots of traditional winter celebrations and holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah.

 The “Merry Christmas Bill,” which is expected to receive bipartisan support, affords students, parents and educators the right to celebrate on school property with displays associated with those holidays, including Menorahs, Christmas trees and Nativity scenes.  The bill also clarifies the right of school districts and their staff to use traditional winter greetings such as “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Holidays” on school grounds.

That this will last about 5 minutes even in the state courts (which are obliged to follow the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court on matters of Constitutional law) probably won't occur to anyone.  That this is a grotesque waste of time in a legislative session that occurs for only 6 months every two years, certainly won't occur to anyone.  That there is nothing preventing students or parents, or even teachers, from saying "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hannukah" (what?  No Kwanzaa?) will not even slow down this legislative juggernaut.  That his Supreme Court citations are distinguishable on the simple grounds neither case involved a public school where attendance is mandatory (nobody has to go look at public decorations on public property) won't occur to anyone, either.

But it's all good, because Bohac "... is a lifelong district resident and strong supporter of local public schools, having authored the state’s “School Supplies Sales Tax Holiday” that allows parents and students to purchase school supplies and clothing tax-free."  Yeah.  A sales tax holiday.  That's done a great deal to improve Texas public schools.  A sales tax exemption on all purchases below $100 on a limited set of items, that does little more than boost sales for retailers in August.

Well, at least he's not arguing that we should arm teachers.

Thanks, Dwayne.  You're a mensch.


  1. Windhorse3:47 PM

    I firmly believe we are watching the decline of a great nation because a significant part of its citizenry - and I don't make this claim lightly - cannot wean themselves from idolatry. On a practical level, many, many Americans value the Second Amendment over the First Commandment, among other forms of prostration to false idols like money and tribal identity.

    And flag and Nativity scene.

    Per your many remarks to this end, I have finally been disabused of the notion of progress.

  2. This stuff is the product of a corrupt media, FOX in this case but hate-talk radio and CNN, ABC, etc. do this stuff as a distraction. This our free press is the bulwark of the trans-fat and circuses strategy of control. And, I'm sorry to say, that is something that has been enabled by would-be civil libertarians as much as it has the plutocrats who have played that side of it rather masterfully. You can look at how even as the Frank Riches of the media are as in denial about videogames and other media having a contributing effect in extreme violence as the gun nuts are about the guns that the boys inured to violence are picking up to fulfill their cinematic fantasies.

    I agree, Windhorse, with your list of idols but I would add the things that liberals hold to be absolutely sacred as also being objects of idol worship. A media that can not only allow but which allows itself to be steered by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Clearchannel and the pathological videogame industry is no less dangerous than the gun cult. Someone has to pick up the gun and use it, as seen on TV.

  3. I doubt if Jesus' parents could have afforded private schools, vouchers or no. Would Jesus have preferred that his school celebrate his birthday or would he prefer his school to be adequately funded? Whatver happened to "that which you do to the least of them you also do to me"?