Let’s take a city like Austin, Texas where school finance reform threatens to close multiple elementary schools to make the state budget balance. There’s no one who thinks that’s a good idea in the long run. It might make the politicians look good, but in the meantime, there is a generation of parents who are concerned that their children will be receiving an even weaker education than they already are. Texas is number forty-eight in education in the United States. Clearly, closing schools isn’t a good idea. Regardless, programs are being cut, classroom sizes are being increase, and teachers and administrators are being laid off. The question is, “what on earth is going on?” Politics. Not local politics or even state politics, but national politics. It’s education as a political pawn.
What if the governor of a state wanted to run for President of the United States? What would be one of the most important components of his platform? Always, it’s education. There are those who say that there is a solution to the education problem in a state like Texas. The governor will roll it out in the eleventh hour and make himself the hero of public education. In the meantime, politicians bicker, parents panic, and teachers’ morale falls even lower than it already is. It’s a good plan for a politician, but is this really good for children? If the eleventh hour save only keeps public education at status quo, nothing has really changed. Texas is still at the bottom of the heap where teaching the children is concerned.
If education is going to be a political pawn, it would be better suited in the hands of a visionary who is willing to cut programs that don’t affect children and shift that money to improving public education in a way that insures that even the most disadvantaged student will excel.