Thursday, July 28, 2005

Those who don't know their history...

In Texas the other day, the long awaited new school finance plan went down in flames. Things got so bad that the authors of the education reform and tax bills -- Rep. Grusendorf (R- Arlington) and Rep. Keffer (R- Eastland) -- voted against their own bills. The world was turned upside down.

Yesterday, Rep. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg) posted an outstanding reflection on the history of the great state of Texas in his blog. A highlight:

Yesterday marked the anniversary (142) of the death of General Sam Houston, who led the Texans to victory in their struggle for independence against Mexico. Mexico you see failed to care for the well-being of all of it's citizens, including the Texans who lived in the out lands of the Mexican nation.

Texans wanted an education for their children and early reports sent from Col. Juan Almonte to Mexico City reflected the sad state of affairs,

"If your Excellency does not successfully press the ayuntamientos of those towns to provide funds to support a school in each place--through taxes or the rental or sale of some lands, etc.--their unfortunate children will be condemned to the most degraded state."

Mexico failed to respond and General Sam Houston led a people to their sovereignty. Two years after Col. Almonte delivered his report the Texans issued their Declaration of Independence, which stated its reasons for separating from Mexico:

"It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government."

The founders of Texas government placed these same values towards education firmly in our constitutions (1845, 1861, 1866, 1869, 1876, 2000) so that such principles could not be changed easily:

"SEC. 1. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of this State to make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of public schools."

Suitable provision has not been made. The plan that failed on Tuesday would have taken the state further away from that goal.

Texas legislators need to realize how angry people get when their public schools are neglected. It's the kind of anger that starts revolutions. Hopefully Democrats and moderate Republicans will take up the cause and change the leadership of this state so that all Texas kids have a chance to succeed.

Education will undoubtedly be the #1 issue in Texas in the '06 elections.


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