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.
Well, at least he's not arguing that we should arm teachers.
Thanks, Dwayne. You're a mensch.