The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to “establish and make suitable provisions for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” Given their track record on school finance and their eagerness to defund all levels of public education, the Texas GOP doesn't seem up to the task of ensuring that Texas students receive a high-quality education.
The Texas Democratic Party platform, on the other hand, offers hope to Texans who believe that education is key to the state's success.
“Texas Democrats believe all children should have access to an exemplary educational program that values and encourages critical thinking and creativity, not the 'drill and kill' teach-to-the-test policy Republicans have forced on students and teachers,” the platform reads.
Read more about how Texas Democrats demonstrate their support for public ed, higher ed, and teachers after the jump.Whereas the Texas Republican platform supported “reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of educational institutions,” Texas Dems prioritized the establishment of a “100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to provide every child the opportunity to learn in an exemplary program.”
The platform also called for universal pre-K program access and funding for early childhood education, including reading programs and professional development and training for instructors.
Additionally, Democrats pointed out that “Texas teachers' pay averages $7,000 to $8,000 below the national average and 20 percent below private-sector pay for comparable jobs within the state.” Teachers also frequently take money from their own paychecks to provide educational materials and school supplies for their classrooms.
The Democratic Party platform emphasized the need to increase teacher pay, improve benefits, and encourage recent college graduates to pursue a teaching career.
Democrats also address the importance of better classrooms that focus on teacher-created curriculum:
Crowded classrooms and an overreliance on high stakes standardized tests leave little time for teachers to teach and students to learn. Three decades of research have consistently shown that smaller class sizes improve student performance. Despite the recent reduction in high school end-of-course exams, high stakes testing in the early grades creates an environment that is an impediment to learning. Recent actions by the Texas Education Agency could raise the testing stakes even higher despite parental and teacher opposition, if TEA is allowed to use compliance with a federal waiver to impose a statewide test-based “Value Added Measure” as a teacher evaluation requirement, despite research that demonstrates such measures are not valid. Texas Democrats believe there is a better way to create an excellent classroom learning environment to help students think critically, be creative and succeed.
Those measures include limiting class size, replacing standardized tests with more comprehensive evaluation measures, and cutting ties with corporations that take taxpayer money to develop high-stakes tests.
The platform also takes a firm stance against “detached, corporate-run schools” that “see public education as a profit-making venture.”
Texas Democrats also call for the State Board of Education to stop “politicizing our children's education” to eliminate curriculum regarding the contributions of people of color like Cesar Chavez and scientific evidence on climate change and evolution.
To support higher education, the platform supports decreasing the financial burden on college students by increasing general revenue funding for public colleges and universities, including community colleges.
Lastly, the Texas Democratic Party platform emphasizes the importance of all Texans having access to a high-quality education by supporting “innovative approaches to ensure diversity in every Texas institution of higher education.”
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.