Earlier this week, I woke up from a dream in which I saw thousands of parents, teachers and children circling the Texas Capitol. All of us were holding umbrellas to suggest that the Legislature shake some money out of the $9 billion dollar rainy day fund for schools.
So tomorrow I will be at the Capitol from noon until two pm. I have to be honest here. I’m discouraged. Ultimately, I wonder if my presence will amount to much. In a way, it feels a bit like voting. One vote. One body. Will it make a difference?
I’m not a pundit. I don’t have command of the political facts the way some do. But I read the paper. Every day. What I read is chaotic and messy and it doesn’t make sense: Here are some salient bits from the last month or so:
- Texas currently ranks 47th in the nation in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math scores.
- The Legislature is looking to cut $4.8 billion dollars from the schools over the next two years.
- Governor Perry says he is not responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers.
- Texas is third in the nation with teen pregnancies; first in the nation for repeat teen pregnancies.
- Governor Perry says abstinence works.
- Illinois has outlawed the death penalty because of so many wrongful convictions. Texas ranks third in the number of executions.
- The sonogram bill, which will require any woman wanting an abortion to have (and pay for) a sonogram before being able to have an abortion, is marching through the Texas Legislature.
- An eleven year girl in Cleveland, Texas is gang raped by several adult men and teen age boys. They filmed it on a cell phone.
Why do I juxtapose these facts? Because it doesn’t make sense to me that executions are okay but abortions are not. It doesn’t make sense to me that people say they want less government interference and yet a personal decision like becoming a parent (or not) needs to be legislated. It doesn’t make sense to me that more and more children are having babies and no one is watching over these children and babies. It doesn’t make sense to me that we tout education as the way to advance but we don’t fund it. It doesn’t make sense.
I will go. I will stand and be counted just as my vote is counted on election day. I will go because I think that schools and teachers and librarians are worth fighting for. I will go because, if we ever have a hope of making sense of these divergent beliefs and laws, I think that funding teachers and librarians and schools is the best place to start.