Category Archives: education news

‘Kids today’ are doing well

A standing assignment I have while writing freelance articles for a group of weekly newspapers in Collin County, Texas, exposes me to the realization that we are leaving this world in fine hands.

In recent years I have been writing feature articles on the two top scholars graduating from Farmersville High School. We call them the “vals and sals.” The valedictorian and salutatorian in high school classes generally get extra attention from local media everywhere; it’s no different in the communities served by the husband-wife team that owns these papers.

I haven’t yet met the top two academic finishers from the FHS Class of 2024. I am hoping to arrange this week for a time to meet the two young women who will tell me a bit of their story.

What I want to share with this brief message is the joy I get talking to these young people. Every time, in every community where I have had the pleasure of working, I come away from these meetings feeling good about our future. These young people are impressive in many important ways.

They have clear goals for themselves. They are focused on succeeding. They strive for excellence. What’s more, the diversity of their upbringing tells me that whether they come from broken homes or from families with mothers and fathers who remain devoted to each other, the young scholars will not be deterred from achieving meeting the goals they have set for themselves.

All of this proves to me that when someone rolls their eyes and lament something about “kids today” that they should rest assured that the generation that will inherit the world we are leaving behind will do better than “just fine.”

Let us not forget, too, that elders’ concern about their world’s future goes back to the beginning of civilization.

Holocaust on full display

NUREMBERG, Germany — My friend told me something about the education he received growing up in this country that I feel compelled to share.

While many American politicians seek to avoid teaching our children about all aspects of our country’s history, German children are given the opportunity to tour first-hand one of history’s greatest scourges.

My good pal Martin explained to me that all students are required to take field trips to tour one of the death camps built by the Nazi regime that launched World War II in 1939 and sought to exterminate a race of people.

The Holocaust is on full display in Germany these days, Martin said.

“We have to see it ourselves,” he told me this morning. This is my second trip to Nuremberg; I came here eight years ago with my bride, Kathy Anne and on that 2016 visit, I toured the Documentation Center, the museum built to commemorate the war trials that took place in Nuremberg after WWII.

Martin told me on that first visit that “we aren’t proud of that period in our history, but we do not hide it, either.” He said then that Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror was a “blight” on Germany’s otherwise glorious history.

Today I learned about how German children are taken to one of the sites used by the Nazis to imprison innocent families … and where they were executed!

And to think, thus, that American politicians do not want our children to learn about our own nation’s “blight,” such as, say, our enslavement of human beings.

Absolutely disgusting! We mustn’t hide, either, from the sins committed by our own nation’s leaders.

School vouchers: bad deal!

Gov. Greg Abbott keeps spitting in the faces of what should be his most ardent constituency, the rural Republicans who vote overwhelmingly to keep the GOP governor in office.

That’s right. He continues to push for his school voucher plan that would take money from public school districts and give Texans the choice of sending their children to private schools.

Why is that such a spitter? Because rural Republican legislators have been arguing against the school voucher plan because of the negative impact it would have on public school systems that are the heart and soul of so many rural communities.

Public schools so often in Texas are the center of social life in many towns. GOP legislators know it better than anyone, which is why they have been battling with the governor over his desire to rob the school systems of money they need.

Abbott said that pro-voucher legislative candidates fared well in the March primary this month. He said the state is “two votes away” from making the voucher plan law. He is urging Republicans to put his plan over the top in the Texas House by electing just two more pro-voucher Republicans.

According to the Texas Tribune: “We are now at 74 votes in favor of school choice in the state of Texas. Which is good, but 74 does not equal 76,” Abbott said, referring to the number of votes he needs to pass the bill into law. “We need two more votes.”

Greg Abbott says Texas close to passing vouchers | The Texas Tribune

He tried to get the measure enacted through four special legislative sessions after the 2023 Legislature adjourned this past May. He failed every time.

This effort disgusts me, as a taxpaying Texas resident who sent his own children through public schools. They received fine educations, earned their college degrees and have become productive members of this great state’s population.

Therefore, I am going to root against the effort to put Gov. Abbott’s notion over the top.

They work for us … not them!

How many times am I going to say what I’ve been saying since The Flood … which is that our legislators — be they state or federal — work for the people who elect them, not for those who run their respective legislative bodies?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, throttled in his effort to rob public schools of money and handing it to private institutions, is targeting Republican legislators who had the temerity to vote against his school voucher plan. He is endorsing opponents of GOP incumbents seeking re-election in 2024.

Let’s set the record straight. The GOP legislators who oppose school vouchers represent rural districts that depend heavily on the health and livelihood of their public schools. They pledge to their constituents to support public education, given that in many rural communities the school system serves as the lifeblood of the community. Abbott wants to unseat House Republicans who oppose his crusade for school vouchers, which would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to help pay for private school costs.

They did not pledge to support every single legislative agenda topic favored by Abbott!

This is ham-handed governance at its worst.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is employing the same strategy against those lawmakers who voted to impeach him earlier this year. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to concentrate on Abbott’s campaign of revenge.

It is absurd!

To their credit, the rural GOP legislators who dug in against vouchers have held firm in their opposition, likely signaling an end to the string of special legislative sessions Abbott kept calling in an effort to foist his voucher plan on Texans. Their resistance infuriates Abbott, to be sure.

My response to that? Big … fu**ing … deal!

These lawmakers are looking out for the interests of the folks who sent them to Austin to do their bidding, not dance to the tune called by Greg Abbott.

Game over, Gov. Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t yet disclosed whether he plans to summon the Legislature for a fifth special session.

My hope is that he calls it a day, surrenders to the reality that his cherished school voucher program is DOA, that the House of Reps isn’t going to go along with his notion of robbing public education of money to benefit private schools.

He can wait until the 2025 Legislature to try again, even though it will remain a bad idea in two years.

Rural GOP lawmakers bristled at the notion of taking money from public schools. Why? Because the school system is the heart and soul of many of these communities. I endorse their resistance.

To that end, Gov. Abbott needs to call it quits on this notion.

Our Legislature comprises Texans who have day jobs when they’re not legislating. It’s expensive to the state to call them back. It’s also expensive to many of our lawmakers who need to put their working lives on hold.

Give it up, Gov. Abbott.

‘No!’ to paying student-athletes

When will we ever stop discussing this nutty notion of paying college students who happen to have athletic prowess?

I know the answer to that one. It’s never. The issue won’t go away.

I hereby declare that my fuddy-duddy streak is showing itself on this one. Thus, I also declare that I adamantly oppose paying men and women who participate in team sports for their universities. Why?

It’s simple, man. They already are getting “paid.” If they are attending the school on an athletic scholarship, they are getting a free education. Tuition is paid for. So are the books. Same for assorted fees. They have a place to live. They might have to spend a few bucks on a meal plan.

How much would it cost them without that scholarship? In Texas, in-state students still get a bit of a break. But if you’re from out of state, that bachelor’s degree would come at a cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Student-athletes don’t pay anywhere near that kind of dough. Therefore, they are spared the burden of those student loans that progressives want forgiven. My fuddy-duddy view is that the lefties are wrong to demand complete loan forgiveness, as students obtain those loans knowing they would have to repay them.

I am just weary of this issue seeming to never vanish.

Creationism isn’t science

The numbskulls who occupy most of the 15 seats on the Texas Board of Education need to have their heads examined.

The move is afoot to require public school teachers in Texas to teach creationism alongside evolution, believing that both notions are scientific theories that need to be treated equally.

Forgive me for what I am about to say, yet again. Creationism is not a scientific theory. It is an article of religious faith that belongs in church Sunday school classrooms, not in public schools.

I have long grown weary of the idiocy promoted by right-wingers that creationism — the biblical tale that Earth came to be in six calendar days while God took the seventh day to rest from all his hard work — is as valid a theory as evolution. It isn’t!

The biblical version of Earth’s creation has no relationship with established empirical evidence that it took our planet millions of years to evolve into what it is today. And that human beings also evolved over millions of years into what we have become today.

For the SBOE to believe Texas public educators should teach them both in our classrooms is idiotic beyond all measure.

Abbott devoted to single issue?

Well … what do you think of this, which is that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed the re-election of 59 state lawmakers — all of whom have supported his school voucher idea?

Me? I think it stinks. Why? Because legislating on behalf of a state as large, diverse and demanding as this one ought to require a comprehensive approach to governing. Abbott doesn’t see it that way, I guess.

He wants to plunder public education funds, siphon them off to private schools and, in my view, deplete our state’s public schools of the resources they need to provide our children a quality education.

If you don’t see it his way, according to the governor, why, you just don’t deserve to be re-elected to the Texas Legislature.

What a pile of dog-dookie!

Give up voucher fight

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he is “in it to win it” as he fights to gut the state’s public education system in search of a voucher program that would bolster private schools.

I presume that’s his way of saying he intends to call a fifth special session of the Legislature if it fails to produce a plan he wants, which would be to enable parents to use taxpayer funds to send their children to private schools.

The Legislature approved an amendment this past week that tossed the voucher notion aside. Democrats oppose the voucher program. Legislative Republicans who represent rural House districts don’t like it either and they joined their Democratic colleagues in scuttling the notion.

I happen to be a strong supporter of public education, so I will use this forum to implore the governor to give up the fight to gut our state’s public school system.

The rural Texas Republicans understand the place that public education has in the communities they represent. In many instances — even if you discount the “Friday Night Lights” aspect — public schools are the heart and soul of these communities.

Their elected lawmakers know it. It’s a shame the governor does not grasp this obvious fact of everyday life in small-town Texas.

Vouchers torpedoed by GOP lawmakers

How ’bout them rural Republican Texas legislators for standing up for their public school systems?

They have helped torpedo a plan to allow public school money to be funneled away to enable parents to enroll their children in private schools. According to the Texas Tribune: The House voted 84-63 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, which removed the provision of the bill allowing some parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private and religious schools. Twenty-one Republicans, most of whom represent rural districts, joined all Democrats in support.

Texas House votes to remove school vouchers from massive education bill | The Texas Tribune

Is this a major embarrassment to Gov. Greg Abbott, who keeps calling legislators back into special session to enact his top priority? You bet it is.

My hope is that Abbott will surrender on this approach that he deems so vital.

The GOP lawmakers understand something fundamental about the role that public school systems play in their district. Which is that the schools are the heart and soul of their districts. Why damage or destroy them by taking money away? They won’t go there. Nor should they!

Pete Laney of Hale Center is the most recent Democrat to serve as speaker of the House. Laney always said that he wanted to let “the will of the House” determine the flow of legislation. One of his successors, Republican Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, is following that lead.

The will of the House has spoken on behalf of our public education system.