Last updated 6/6/2023 at 10:56am
There are many ways for our state Legislature to improve public education. Unfortunately, our statewide politicians are focusing on the wrong things. Several states, including Texas, have passed several statutes prohibiting educators from mentioning certain words or subjects in their classes. Some misguided politicians have launched an effort to purify books that are available to schools by purging what they consider offensive words. In some instances they have made criminal conduct mentioning slavery, transgender as well as many other subjects. I fail to see refusing to mention these controversial subjects will make them go away. Nonetheless, our legislators are wasting a lot of quality time fretting over whether or not these subjects are even mentioned in our public schools. Our Texas Legislature has either missed or purposedly ignored the thing that would most likely give Texas a high quality of public education. That is adequate funding for the schools, decent pay for teachers and funding at a level which will allow reasonable size classrooms.
Another matter that is eroding our public schools which runs a close second to adequately funding education is teaching civic responsibility in our schools. My grandchildren were only given half a school year to study how we govern ourselves. The deemphasizing of the study of government, political science, or whatever you want to call it in our public schools, in my opinion, is one reason there has been such a drastic drop off in voter participation and even loss of confidence in our system of elections. Voter participation and confidence in the honesty and integrity of the election system is the firm underpinning of self-government. Unfortunately, it seems too many Americans and particularly Texans have forgotten this truth. Too many of our young people see civics courses as simply a course they must take as part of the curriculum to get a diploma. Too many of them fail to see that, in fact, it is a tool for living in a free society and a free democratic nation.
I reminisce over the great teacher I was fortunate to have in high school who made politics, self-government, civics or political science a very real thing. She would divide us into groups, we would have parties, elect candidates for president, vice-president, etc. Then have mock elections and pass bills we thought would make the country better. We left school with a better, clearer understanding of what self-government really means. If we keep short-changing our students with an inferior, underfunded education, and continue deemphasizing teaching civics in our schools, we will eventually pay the price in the form of uncaring, not so well-educated constituents in America. Thomas Jefferson and other leaders emphasized that it was critical that citizens of a free nation be well educated, concerned and participate in the function of making self-government work.