Is education really a priority?

Image
Body

I would like to start by thanking and commending the Fredericksburg Independent School District school board for the courage it took to write the letter to the editor a few weeks ago.

You have a difficult task of providing a quality education for the young people of our community under very dire circumstances.

I had the good fortune of spending my entire adult life in the classroom teaching math and would like to share a few of my experiences during that time.

Each year that the legislature would meet, state officials would proclaim that education was one of the top priorities. In 1972, the majority of my salary was paid for by the state, but in 2009 when I left FHS, the majority of my salary was paid by the local district.

If education is such a priority, how did this happen?

Over the years, I saw numerous good teachers either leave the profession or move to other districts with substantial pay increases because they could not afford to stay in Fredericksburg. I saw many people working for state agencies with better benefits than Texas state teachers.

From the 2014 U.S. census report, Texas ranked last among the states on spending for school employee benefits. State employees, retirees, and their dependents are afforded better insurance benefits than teachers, retired teachers and dependents.  I would like to invite all our representatives in Austin to switch their health insurance and retirement package to join us in the TRS system. You may find out what it is like first-hand.

If education is such a priority, how did this happen?

Starting in the late 1970s, each year the legislature would meet, I would write a letter to my representatives in Austin outlining some concerns about the state of public education in Texas. Never once did I get any kind of response. After about 10 years of this, I decided it was futile and chose to concentrate my energies on serving the students and spare the frustration.

If education is such a priority, how did this happen?

Many times state representatives would come back to speak to local civic organizations and boast of having held the line on spending only to find that they did so by shifting more responsibilities to the local districts, causing property taxes to be increased.

If education is such a priority, how did this happen?

In a recent article in the paper, Rep. Biedermann stated that we do not have a funding problem but rather a spending problem. However, per pupil spending for Texas is less than the tuition rate in many private schools across the state.

He also claimed that the legislature acts slowly and right he is. I spent 37 years at FHS, and the burden of paying for education has steadily shifted from state to local. How many more decades should we wait to see the trend reverse?

I have much to add but do not want to burden you.  I would again like to thank the FISD school board for their tireless efforts.

Additionally, to our representatives in Austin, thank you in advance for addressing these issues.

It is time to make education a priority in Texas.

 

 

Jackie Schandua is a retired math teacher for the Fredericksburg Independent School District.