Senator Kirk Watson, Chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement today regarding Children at Risk’s report assessing how Texas schools responded to the Texas Legislature’s failure to meet the needs of schools (the report will be available today at http://childrenatrisk.org/):
This report makes clear that Texas schools are great assets, working heroically to help our children succeed. But it’s equally clear that Texas can do better when it comes to our kids.
For more than a year, it’s been obvious that children are paying the price for the legislature’s failure to write a responsible budget. As this report demonstrates, more than 10,000 teaching positions have been wiped out despite an increase in new student enrollment of more than 80,000 over the past four years. Texas deserves better than overcrowded classrooms, with fewer teachers struggling to help more and more kids learn.
The report shows that local officials have been brave and creative in minimizing the impact of these cuts on students. Many have looked for new revenue sources and streamlined their organizations, and nearly a third dipped into their savings to make it through these last two years. Clearly, local officials need to be as efficient as possible.
But those in control need to stop blaming the victims or denying the real problem. Organizational efficiencies can’t cover up the state’s $5 billion broken promise to its schools. The legislature needs to relieve the burden on our schools, teachers, and the kids they’re trying to teach. Our economic future depends on it.