Pathways to a Prosperous Future
by Andrew Morris
As a student of history, I am constantly reminded that the success of a free society has it’s foundation on strong public schools and affordable access to healthcare. This has been the bedrock of the United States’ ascension to global superpower. Yet in recent years, our current leaders and elected representatives have forgotten this history, and are charting a course that diminishes the United States on the global stage and stunts the growth and success of future generations. This is most clear when we consider education and healthcare.
I am the proud product of the public school system from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. My abilities, talents, and skills were nurtured by teachers across three continents who taught me how to be the man I am today. Those classrooms were well equipped, with reasonable class sizes, taught by teachers who had the resources to, as my UK high school’s tagline informed us, “turn potential into excellence”. I was just one of thousands of students who were set on a pathway to success because of our investments in our teachers and our public schools.
In recent years, however, these investments in Texas have slowly eroded: ten years ago, the State of Texas invested around 50% of the state budget into public schools; after the most recent legislative session in 2017, Texas allocated a mere 37% of Texan taxpayer’s money to educate our next generation. The results were all too predictable: textbooks that are outdated and fall apart; class sizes that continue to grow; stagnating teacher salaries; and facilities so poor they prevent any attempt at teaching. This is not contained to one level or one district; it is happening across the state. Worse, retired teachers are suffering as their retirement benefits decline and their health insurance premiums continue to exponentially grow. The conclusion leads to ever-increasing property taxes, falling student achievement, and ultimately the fact that we are stealing from our future generations.
The policies that we must enact to restore our future, build faith in our educators, and save our students are straight-forward: we must restore public education funding immediately (in part by closing the corporation property tax loophole, which returns $5 billion to the state coffers) so we can reward teachers adequately, protect teacher retirement benefits, effectively equip our schools and teachers, lower class sizes, and ensure the proper teaching materials are available to our students and our teachers. We must act to protect public schools – the most effective way to educate our children – and lay the foundation so that every child, regardless of background, can reach their potential. Our current political leaders have abrogated that responsibility, so it is imperative that we elect true leaders who value education and will do all they can to ensure that every Texas family can access the educational pathway they deserve.
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