‘They’re Starving Us’: Houston Teachers’ Union Condemns School Choice Blitz

In his third inaugural address as Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott said investing in private schools will be a priority in the 88th legislative session.

Under the guise of “school vouchers,” both Abbott and Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick said they would use a portion of the $33 billion taxpayer surplus to invest public dollars in private charter schools.

“Our schools are for teaching, not educating,” Abbott said. “Schools should not put forward social programs. We must reform the curriculum and bring children back to learning the basics, and give parents the tools to challenge the curriculum when it falls short of expectations.”

“No one knows what is better for a child’s education than his parents,” Abbott added.

It’s not clear what Abbott means by “nurturing” and “social programs” at the school, but interestingly, he was also touting the state’s recent #1 ranking of Blue Ribbon high-performing schools with exemplary overall academic grades.

In his inaugural address, Patrick criticized teachers and professors and accused them of teaching critical racial theory, a college-level socio-political concept that is not taught in elementary school curricula. There is no evidence of critical racial theory in any school curriculum. The lieutenant governor also said he could revoke tenure for college professors who don’t follow his curriculum.

“No parent should send their child to a school that has failed,” Patrick said. “We are going to go through a school of choice. I don’t want them to teach that if you are white you are a racist and if you are colored you are a victim. I don’t want teachers in our colleges saying, “America is evil” and “capitalism is bad.”

The Houston Federation of Teachers is one of the largest teacher unions in the state with over 6,000 teachers and school support staff. In response to the Texas leadership’s inaugural comments, HFT officials said they did not believe it.

“[Texas lawmakers] continue to rob public schools and send money to private charters and try to privatize our schools,” said Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. “They starve us and then wonder why we don’t meet certain standards of accountability.”

There are more than 5 million students in the Texas public school system, according to the Texas Education Agency. The Houston Independent School District educates more than 200,000 students each year.

Robinson said she believes lawmakers are promoting investment in private schools for financial gain. Forrest Wilder’s report for Texas Monthly says the 2023 legislative session will be a major opportunity for lawmakers to develop their plan to funnel taxpayer dollars earmarked for public schools into private and publicly unaccountable institutions.

“The only thing I see is that they owe it to someone, some organization or a certain group of people, because you basically turn your back on most Texas students and Texas schools,” Robinson said. a real boost.”

Pay increases are just one of various resources that Texas teachers say are critical to maintaining the public school system. According to TEA, the average teacher salary in Texas starts at $33,660.

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