Last week, one of our Student Council members, Danielle Suh, wrote this powerful letter to her legislators regarding the cuts to education budgets in Texas, and I felt it deserved a wider audience. When I asked her for permission to include it on my blog, she agreed, commenting, “There’s often this sense of helplessness, like no matter what we do, we’re not affecting any sort of change….”
Danielle, your voice and that of all our students deserve to be heard in this debate. Maybe sharing this will help.
The Honorable Kirk Watson
Dear Senator Watson:
I am a student in Austin, Texas. I am writing you because I am concerned about the Texas State Legislature potentially cutting $4.8 billion from schools over the next two years and refusing $830 million in federal aid.
I encourage you to stand against this budget cut, to agree to the stipulations necessary to receive the federal aid, and to properly utilize the rainy day fund to fix the education crisis today.
Texans are proud of being Texans. “Don’t mess with Texas,” our billboards scream. “Ford is the best in Texas,” advertisements brag. In a state where so much pride abounds, it is embarrassing to have to boast about our dismal literacy rates (47th in the nation), and our equally distressing testing scores (49th in verbal SAT scores, and 46th in math scores.)
Education forms the foundation upon which our future leaders—my peers—will build towers of progress and development. We must learn the basics of government, economics, algebra, and chemistry before we can function as responsible citizens in tomorrow’s world.
To ask us to do so when we will have less time with our teachers, and less resources to take advantage of, is reprehensible. Instead of bemoaning the rising oil prices, the disturbingly high teen pregnancy rate, the environmental degradation, our current leaders ought to look for solutions by enabling my generation. Empower us—don’t cripple us in an increasingly competitive global society. Invest in our futures—we can’t change the world if our teachers can’t give us one-on-one attention or demonstrate nebulous concepts with hands-on labs.
I was appalled to learn that Governor Perry used $3.2 billion in stimulus dollars—that had been designated for schools—to plug other holes in his budget. Education must not become the ugly duckling who is slighted and ignored when other “more pressing” issues come to hand. Education must be the most important issue in legislation today. The rainy day fund exists for crises such as this; when our state is so precariously low in education statistics, there is no justification for further putting our intellectual maturity at risk.
Thank you for your support. I look forward to a response.
cc: Representative Donna Howard, Representative Paul Workman, Representative Scott Hochberg, Senator Florence Shapiro, Representative Rob Eissler, Senator Dan Patrick