By Manifesto Joe
It wasn't exactly a scene out of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Wendy Davis only had to filibuster for an hour and 15 minutes Sunday night, because of Texas Senate rules. But in so doing, she at least temporarily derailed the $4 billion gutting of the state's public education system by stopping the Texas Senate from passing a revenue measure on the next-to-last day of the regular biennial session.
On Monday, the regular session's last day, Republicans had to muster 25 out of 31 Senate votes (80%) to resurrect the bill, and even with their 19-12 majority in that body, they could not. Apparently, everybody goes back to work in special session today.
School officials across the state have been dreading this action by the Legislature. And it will likely come to pass anyway -- the Republicans can come up with simple majorities, most certainly, in both houses. What it will mean is layoffs, layoffs, and more layoffs, in large districts and in small.
On the issue of education, when you confront a Republican with the old bromide, "You get what you pay for," their stock response can be, "No, you don't." (I actually had one say that to me.) To a Republican, the quality of teaching has nothing to do with class size, and the quality of the teacher has nothing to do with how much teachers are paid. A good teacher will work for cans of beans, they "reason," and will be just as effective in a classroom with 40 students as in a classroom with 20.
I suppose this is why we've seen so many good teachers leave the field, one might think. But no, this is not the Republican way of "thinking." Really dedicated professional educators will work for peanuts, they seem to think, and will stay no matter if they have to teach 60 in a classroom.
(At this point, I have an aside question for self-interested followers of Ayn Rand: Who is John Galt, and why does he keep saying these moronic things?)
Anyway, Texas Republicans would have one believe that slashing $4 billion from state spending on education will have no effect on quality. Let's just get rid of the deadbeats, they seem to think, and all will be dandy.
It's not as though Texas was ever very generous toward public education. In a decade, the state slipped from 25th among 50 states in per capita spending on students, down to 37th. That's about to get worse.
As deadlines approached, that's when Davis, a first-term Democrat from Fort Worth, decided to throw a monkey wrench in the works.
Governor Goodhair for president?
And this "unpleasant" development comes just as Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry tells reporters that, in essence, he's starting to believe his own bullshit press. After Rush Lardbaugh carried on about him so over the air (a mancrush, Rush?), Goodhair told the news media that he's "thinking" of running for president.
Hell, for over a decade, we've been waiting to see whether Goodhair is even capable of governing this state. With a record budget shortfall confronting Texans, all he could do was tell everybody that budget cuts hurt, but hey, things are tough all over. This is from a man who is living in a house that leases for $9,900 a month, and has become suspiciously wealthy during his time as a "public servant."
He even had the chutzpah to say that school district cuts in personnel are "a local decision." Trustees across the state would have laughed out loud at that if they hadn't been so busy deciding where to cut when state funding is dramatically reduced. One school board member did call Perry's comment "comical."
Well, if the Republicans could get Il Doofus "elected," (appointed?) and if Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are actually considered viable prospects for their presidential nominee, then I suppose Karl Rove is probably confident that he could sell an Aggie who pulled a 2.3 GPA majoring in animal husbandry.
Anyway, Davis' filibuster to force a special session comes at a sensitive time.
Now back to Wendy
Davis apparently decided that she couldn't stay on the sidelines while this feasting on seed corn was taking place. This is from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram report:
Rumors had circulated that throughout the day Sunday that Davis had planned to filibuster against the bill, but the Fort Worth senator declined to confirm the reports and avoided contact with reporters.
But shortly after the Texas House passed SB1811, Davis rose to begin assailing the bill, saying it would mark the first time in state history that Texas has failed to fund student population growth.
She also read letters from constituents questioning the cuts and urging lawmakers to dip into the state's Rainy Day Fund to help finance education.
"We are going to permanently reduce funding to public schools in Texas," she said, clutching a microphone as she stood near her desk at the front of the chamber. "I don't think there is anything to celebrate in that."
Here's a link to the entire article.
It will be interesting to see what soon happens to public education in Texas, and especially if Rick Perry decides to toss his hat, or hair, or something, into the presidential ring.
I hope that in the grim years to come, Texans won't forget one courageous senator who decided to lead a likely futile fight against the triumph of ignorance.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.