Stark differences show up in the resolutions and platforms of the Texas Democrats, compared to the Texas Republicans. Elections in Texas have great meaning and significance in 2010.
Messy and open to long and loud discussions as the Democrats are, final copies probably won’t be available on line until about Tuesday, after proofing and grammar editing. But you may want to be aware of a few items. In this post I offer only a very, very brief summary of the education planks, holding off on comment until I can analyze the planks further — except to note my delight at the name of the plank, “Reform of the Unbalanced State Board of Education.”
First, the convention passed at least three education resolutions guaranteed to please teachers and friends of education.
- One resolution calls for stripping textbook approval authority from the State Board of Education, placing it instead with the education professionals at the Texas Education Agency.
- Another resolution calls for fewer standard state tests, higher teacher pay, and repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act.
- A third calls for outdoor education, to get students outside and to educate future citizens in conservation and recreation — the “No Child Left Inside Resolution.”
Some of these issues get double attention in the platform. Democrats provides four-and-a-half pages of support for education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. It is the first series of planks in the Democratic platform, following the preamble immediately, under the major section “Education.”
Public Education Funding first calls for a “100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to allow every district to offer an exemplary program.” Democrats call for an end to reliance on the “Robin Hood” system, an extension of the 22-pupil-per-class limit, or lower limits, and asks the federal government to fully fund mandates including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Excellent Schools for Every Student calls for universal access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and after school programs for grades 1 through 12. Democrats want a focus on up-to-date instructional materials. One plank calls for opposition to “efforts to destroy bilingual education.” Another calls for all students to become proficient in English and “at least one other language.” This section also urges reduction in “high-stakes tests, used to punish students and school systems.”
Solving the Dropout Crisis includes an explanation that dropouts do not get jobs and pay they might otherwise get, and at a cost to all Texas households. Solutions suggested include community-wide efforts to serve at-risk students and their families, including expanded early childhood education to help at-risk students.
Effective Teachers for Every Student calls for a raise in teacher and support staff pay, “exceeding the national average.” Democrats suggest state-funded health insurance to all education employees. There are planks calling for certified teachers in every classroom, an encouragement of diversity in teachers, and teacher performance measures that look at everything teachers do. This is targeted at a Republican plank, described as “plans to use narrow test results instead.”
There is a call for beefed up pension support for retired teachers, and for the repal of “the federal government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions that unfairly reduce Social Security benfirts for educational retirees and other public employees.”
Reform of the Unbalanced State Board of Education offers few specifics, but does complain about the current SBOE’s having “made a laughingstock of our state’s process for developing and implementing school curriculum standards that determine what our students learn.” The plank specifically mentions recent fights on science standards, language arts standards, and social studies standards. Democrats also call for “sober fiduciary responsibility for the Permanent School Fund, exposing and prohibiting conflicts of interest.”
Making Our Schools Safe Havens for Learning calls for students and teachers to be safe from violence in schools, including bullying. Democrats support the Dignity for All Students Act.
Higher Education calls for opportunities to go to college to be available to all students who wish to pursue a higher education. Democrats complain about “tuition deregulation’s” effects, which they say has been to financially burden especially students from poorer families. Democrats want state support to help ease the burdens.
Community Colleges generally supports community colleges, with similar calls for funding, and support of student opportunities.
Diversity calls for support for diversity programs in schools, community colleges and universities.
A quick comparison with the platform Republicans passed at their convention in Dallas two weeks ago shows some clear lines of demarcation between the two Texas groups. The Texas Tribune, that already-great on-line publication, offers a copy of the Republican platform here. Won’t you join me in analyzing it, and the Democratic platform, and discussing the differences? Comments are open. Please do.