Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gallego Gives HB 2 an “F”

I can't locate the source of this article. Got it off of Gerry Birnberg's blog. -Angela

Lawmakers from MALC give House Bill 2 an “F”

HB 2 fails kids, fails teachers, and fails the test of leadership
AUSTIN - Members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus - Texas House of Representatives (MALC) joined together today to criticize the current version of House Bill 2 saying that the bill fails kids, fails teachers, and fails the test of leadership.
“Right now, I give House Bill 2 an ‘F’,” said State Rep. Pete Gallego, Chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. “House Bill 2 fails our kids, fails our teachers, and fails the test of leadership.”
House Bill 2 fails Texas children because it does not provide enough money to guarantee every Texas child an exemplary public education. It also widens the equity gap equity between a handful of haves in 23 school districts, and every other child in Texas. For example, under the current version of HB 2, Highland Park gets a 52% increase in per pupil funding while Houston ISD and San Antonio ISD only receive a 4% and 3% increase, respectively. The funding increase for the vast majority of Texas kids (approximately 90%) will barely outpace the rate of inflation.
“HB 2 leaves 90% of the children in Texas behind,” said State Rep. Pete P. Gallego. “The disconnect between this bill and the basic needs of Texas school children is appalling. We need a system that ensures 100% equity, not one that widens the gap between rich and poor, leaving 90% of our Texas school kids behind.”
HB 2 also fails Texas kids by institutionally under funding critical educational elements identified in the state’s adequacy study. Currently, the state provides $877 for economically disadvantaged kids. HB 2 cuts that amount to $665. The state’s own adequacy study suggested spending $1960 for economically disadvantaged kids. The same adequacy study suggested that the cost for limited English proficiency was $1248 per student. HB 2 cuts funding for limited English proficiency to $450 per student. “House Bill 2 does not even live up to the woeful standards of adequacy outlined in the state’s own study,” noted Gallego.
House Bill 2 also fails our teachers because it lacks an across the board teacher pay raise, opting instead for an arbitrary and problematic incentive program that would likely result in 90% of our teachers being out of luck. Teacher salaries in Texas are currently $6,252 below the national average. A great education begins with a great teacher, and an across the board pay raise is the best way to recruit and reward great teachers.
“We need to put our money where our mouth is,” said Representative Aaron Peña. “The Texas Legislature must send a clear message to the school teachers around the state: that we value their hard work.”
Finally, House Bill 2 fails the test of leadership by systematically under funding the educational system in Texas. Not only does the bill provide no new money for education, it does not even fully restore the $3.7 billion in cuts and cost shifts enacted last session.
“House Bill 2 doesn’t even get us back to par,” said Gallego. “You can’t start talking about ‘new money’ until you restore the $3.7 billion in cuts and cost shifts that were enacted last session.”
In its current form, House Bill 2 will merely put the State of Texas on the fast track to more school finance litigation. House Bill 2 is a roadmap for disaster. It does not provide the promise of hope and opportunity to all Texas school children.
“We all know what the problem is,” said Gallego. “The system is starved. It needs more resources, and I hope the leadership will have the courage to offer a real solution. A judge has ruled that our current school finance system is unconstitutional. I don’t see how House Bill 2 changes that fact or keeps us out of court.”

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