“Step right up!” the carnie proclaimed from his soap box in Austin in 1991. “Brother, if you can spare a dime, I have just the snake oil that will cure your economic ills! You say you want the chance to be a rich man without having to work for it? You say you’re tired of spending your tax dollars to pay for the education of those little cowpokes in your bunkhouse?
“Well now, have I got something amazing for you! It’s called, the ‘lottery’ and it’s gonna change your life! Not only will you be able to pluck down a dollar or two and if the wind is blowing just right and the planets align then you too can be a rich Texan, at the same time you can meet the needs of all those little red brick schoolhouses all over the prairie and brother, they will just love you for it.
“Besides that, it’s what the people want! God Bless America and God Bless Texas! All you got to do is pull down on that lever and get this chuck wagon full of cash rolling towards your hacienda!”
Uh huh. You bet. Sure thing. So then, you PROMISE that the money, or at least a big ol’ chunk of it will head right into the department of education’s coffers, eh? You wouldn’t…..lie to us, would you? Of course not! Tell you what, I’ll go vote and you can just go ahead and put that check in the mail, eh?
That gamble never paid off. The money has always gone into a general fund and the amount that is doled out to education hasn’t changed a bit. So where does that leave public education?
Unfortunately, thanks to the department of education’s lack of effort to properly fund the school districts over the years, we find ourselves at the mercy, once again, of Robin ‘Austin Texas’ the Hood. A couple of years ago, my school district in McKinney was hit so hard by Robin Hood that the district had to go through the painful process of handing out pink slips all across the district.
I saw friends that were highly qualified and extremely efficient, packing up their things and sent off into the not so wonderful world of unemployment. It was a valiant effort on the school district’s part. It was a ‘tightening of the belt’ and it was something that a responsible school district had to do. Our classes got a little bigger, there were fewer teachers on the campuses. Administrators had to help substitute teach and coaches, who were already working a gazillion hours a month, had to start driving buses in order to make up for a budget shortfall.
I can assure you this. The teachers and coaches in this district are nothing short of incredible when it comes to giving the tax payers of McKinney the biggest bang for their educational buck! I look around me and I see such a spirit of cooperation that I am proud to be a part of this phenomenal educational organization. We don’t waste, we recycle and reach into our own pockets often to augment the classroom experience. It really is all for one and one for all here.
And the parents have been phenomenal as well. They are so positive and so supportive and so involved. It takes a village and brother, we have one special village here in McKinney. But now, we face a huge shortfall again. Some say ‘cut the fat.’ That’s already been done and any further cuts will be into the meat of the program.
I have a better idea. How about a gamble that’s not a gamble at all? There’s a tax election coming up that will increase the average homeowners tax dollars by around $22 a month. Unlike the Lottery vote, which provided ZERO in funding for education, a vote for this will provide instant funds and allow outstanding teachers to continue to do what they do so well. It’s not a gamble at all, instead, it is an investment in your children’s futures. It’s not ‘snake oil’, it’s more like ‘gasoline’ so this Hot Rod can keep on cruisin’ down the road. Our Fine Arts programs are second to none and our athletic programs enable kids to shine in many different fields of competition. It’s not a lottery ticket that you might scratch off to reveal nothing but wasted money, it’s a ticket to education, and that’s a ride every kid needs and deserves.
Submitted by David McClure, Faubion Middle School teacher and coach