Discord is everywhere, or so it seems. Check out Congress and it’s clear that infighting takes precedence over problem-solving and solutions. Check the Third Special Session convened on October 9th by Governor Abbott. Public school funding is under attack with the governor pushing vouchers that many Texans, including those in rural areas, oppose. Abbott calls this Educational Freedom on his agenda. He refers to vouchers as education savings accounts. He says these accounts allow parents to pick the public or private school that best fits their child. Whose child? There are no accountability standards for private schools. They can reject applicants, they do not have to provide services for students with special needs, and they can expel disruptive students. These accounts are simply vouchers, and they undermine free and public education for all. A recent Texas Tribune article said that if the governor really wanted what’s best for all students and parents, he would raise school funding. There is major support across political divides for this. Remember, the 88th session started with a $32+ billion surplus. In fact, public school funding is not even on Abbott’s agenda.
Special Session #3 agenda items that are included in addition to the above are Border Security, Public Safety, and ending COVID restrictions. These go as far as prohibiting local standards and practices such as local COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers and adding authority for all licensed police officers to remove undocumented immigrants from Texas.
Even more worrisome, is that some members of the Texas legislature have accepted contributions in the millions from one or more organizations with ties to white supremists and antisemitic activists.
And now in the world at large two wars are being waged.
These are scary times, indeed. The flight or fight response is instinctual and ingrained in humans. No matter how much simpler it might feel right now to take a position of ignoring all of this and going on with our daily routines, we must ask ourselves what that accomplishes.
If we value freedom, value free and public education for all, want public representatives who work across the aisle for results that serve people rather than making headlines for their own self-promotion, then now is the time to fight for what is right. Begin by keeping informed:
• Visit our AAUW national website for some of the most well-researched information available on issues
• Read emails national sends with information and calls to action
• Read AAUW TX Public Policy Constant Contact emails and take action
• Use the Texas Legislature Online website to find out how to contact legislatures directly and track bills as they move through the legislative process
• Study the nonpartisan League of Women Voters website for information on the pros and cons of proposed legislation including Vote11
• Locally, at the branch meeting on October 7th, information sheets on each table urged members to vote in favor of Texas Proposition 9, the COLA for retired teachers.
A very smart woman in our branch who many of us know said, “Don’t leave Texas. Make your voice heard and your vote count.” I second that, and I hope you do too on Election Day November 7th and beyond.
AAUW SA Public Policy Chair
AAUW TX Public Policy Advisory Committee