by Edd Doerr
The first weekend in June found me in Texas for the high school graduation of my granddaughter (magna cum laude). I was impressed by the ethnic diversity of the 375-student graduating class in the very affluent Dallas suburb ( in Dick Armey's old congressional district). While the grads were predominantly Euro-American, the four student speakers were -- president, African-American; salutatorian, Chinese-American; valedictorian and class vice-president, Hispanic. And all four were female. The graduating class was quite diverse.
On arrival I was greeted by a lead story in the June 3 Dallas Morning News, "School cuts risky business, executives say", a report on Gov Rick Perry and the GOP-dominated legislature's plan to slice $4 billion from the biennial education budget., which would mean about 50,000 school district layoffs. The cuts are so draconian that even business leaders are complaining, James Oberwetter (president of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, former Bush ambassador to Saudi Arabia, former adviser to Texas oilman Ray Hunt) warned that shortchanging education could undermine the state's ability to compete for jobs and investment, and urged that the state tap into the state's $9 billion "rainy day" fund. According to the US Census Bureau Texas ranks 42nd in per capita school spending.
FYI, Texas has 1,000 school districts, compared to Maryland's well-run 24. The Texas State Board of Education for years has been plagued by majorities of right wing and fundamentalist mouth-breathers and creationists.
More FYI: Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the US. Between 1991 and 2004 teen births in Texas cost taxpayers over $15 billion. Well over 90% of Texas students get no comprehensive sexuality education beyond abstinence education, which is equivalent to teaching kids that the best way to avoid automobile accidents is not to drive. The percentage of Texas high school students who have sex is higher than the national average and the percentage who use contraceptives is lower.
One good thing about Texas, it is very hard to find a bad restaurant.