It is not often that you will see me venture off into the world of politics here in this space, but recent events have brought a subject very dear to those that read the Tribune to the forefront and the facts surrounding the issue bear recognition.
All you have to do is ask a teacher or a school administrator around these parts and you are sure to get an earful about the evils of school vouchers. It is a foregone conclusion that vouchers benefit the metropolitan areas of our state but would be a huge negative impact on rural areas. As New Boston Superintendent Brian Bobbitt said in a recent article in the Texas Tribune, the money for vouchers will come from a pot of money that is now going to public education.
Rural districts like every single one in our coverage area simply cannot afford to lose money. Already there are teachers that have gone years without a raise. And that is the message that Gary VanDeaver has sent to his constituents and those in Austin with his steadfast refusal to support vouchers.
HB 1, if passed, each of the 32 school districts in VanDeaver’s House District 1 would lose thousands of dollars in state funding. That is something that none of them can afford to see happen.
I believe VanDeaver heard the voices of those he serves in his district. He has planted his feet in the ground and refused to bow to what has to be a tremendous amount of pressure from fellow Republicans, including Governor Abbott. No doubt his decision to do so will garner some stiff opposition in the next election, and there will be those who make an issue of vouchers in the next campaign. I dare say you will not see Gary VanDeaver change his stance on the issue.
Here is how I see it.
Vouchers are for private schools, and you don’t see a lot of those in our area. There are a few, and they are good schools, but in our little corner of the world, our public schools are what we live and breathe. All you have to look at to prove the fact can be found on a Friday night football field. If you are from DeKalb, you bleed orange and black. From Hooks, that blood runs blue, and so on at every school district around here. The folks that live in a town love their schools, their teams and their teachers.
In 1996, I moved my family from Dallas to Avery. My wife and I made that decision because of the school there. We saw a school filled with family values, teachers that cared, and a leader in Gene Weaver that loved the kids in his school. We saw classrooms with the Ten Commandments on the wall, and we talked to teachers like Marsha Deaton and Lisa Lennon that prayed for their students. The Avery Bulldogs were that town then, and they still are today. It is something you simply do not find in a big city school district.
The bottom line, for me anyway, is that our schools cannot handle the loss of funds. My grandkids are in one of those schools now and I do not want to see Malta ISD lose one single dollar of funding, for any reason.
So, that said, I applaud our representative for actually representing our people. In my eyes and their narrow view of the world of politics, that is a rare thing.