A View on Education

In 2007 Congress named the building housing the U.S. Department of Education for President Lyndon B. Johnson.  The legislation was sponsored by Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Democratic Congressman Gene Green and signed by Republican President George W. Bush.

LBJ was an education President. “More than sixty education laws were part of the vast number of legislative measures that made up the Great Society,” said Lynda Johnson Robb. “But Daddy wasn’t as interested in the number of laws he helped enact as he was in the number of lives those laws help enrich.”

“My father believed education is the best passport out of poverty and a quality education is mankind’s greatest hope for tomorrow,” Luci Baines Johnson said. “No honor would have meant more to Lyndon Johnson than to be remembered for improving educational opportunities for all Americans.”

LBJ taught in Texas schools in South Texas and in Houston.  Were he a teacher today he might be fired to save the Rainy Day Fund!

During the last legislative session war was declared on public education—secondary and higher.  Maybe that doesn’t matter since Texas already ranks 50th –dead last—among the states in percentage of high school graduates.

The last session cut more than $4 billion dollars and about 20,000 jobs from our public school system while enrollment is increasing.

Higher education was cut by $1.5 billion, a 10 percent cut from current levels and $2 billion below what is needed to maintain current services. More than 43,000 students, including 29,000 students who will lose their TEXAS Grants, will lose financial aid. Many of them will never graduate from college.

Texas will become less competitive in the nation and the world as its workforce becomes less educated. By 2040 the percentage of Texans without a high school diploma will jump from 19% to 30%.  These people are virtually unemployable in industry. Many will go on welfare or to prison.  Try supporting a family on $33.000 a year.  Half the high school dropouts will me making less.

College graduates will drop from 18% of the population to 13% and most of those denied opportunity will be Hispanic.

If you wanted to disable an enemy country or an economic competitor you might start by attacking its school system.  Your foe would soon be reduced to Third World irrelevance. If another country tried to do this to us it would be an act of war.

The job of government—any government at any level anywhere in the world— is to provide infrastructure.  There is physical infrastructure like streets and highways, sewers, prisons and football stadiums.  There is social infrastructure—institutions that provide education, public health, law enforcement, and national defense.

Without infrastructure neither people, states, nor nations can prosper.  Governments that are more concerned about ideology than infrastructure fail.

Communists were more concerned about Marxism than markets.  Did you ever hear of a prosperous Communist country?  We used to hear a lot about Communism—before it was tossed onto the dustbin of history—right on top of Nazism.  Talk about third world irrelevance!

Money spent toward education is an investment in our future, plain and simple. Let’s return to LBJ’s vision of greatness for our state and nation!  Let’s have a Great Society!

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