Lt. Gov Dan Patrick and his enabler, Gov. Greg Abbott, are cranking up the rhetorical heat on state legislators to pass a passel of bad ol’ bills in the special session commencing tomorrow, July 18. They are using every chance they get to try to browbeat lawmakers into submission. These two misguided public officials want to muscle through a needless bill targeting transgender students’ bathroom use, a voucher bill subsidizing unaccountable private schools, and bills to straitjacket local governments and silence the voices of educators and other public employees.
But Patrick and Abbott are catching some heat themselves as grass-roots Texans call them out for their ill-advised agenda and their hollow gestures on school funding and teacher pay, for which they are unwilling to provide much-needed new state money. A prime example of the heat rising up from the grass roots: This afternoon thousands of educators and parents and community leaders, including a sizable contingent of Texas AFT members from around the state, gathered in front of the state Capitol and gave the lieutenant governor and governor an earful on the contrast between their top-down, divisive dictates and the real desires of ordinary Texans.
Speaker after speaker drew cheers with each call to enact a real agenda of improved funding for public schools and respect and decent pay and benefits for active and retired school employees. Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro struck a particularly responsive chord with the refrain that “we are not going to be divided,” labeling as “most despicable” the attempts by the likes of Patrick and Abbott “to divide teachers from children.” An encouraging sign was the presence at the rally of both Republican and Democratic legislators who have distinguished themselves as friends of public education and wanted to show their solidarity. And today’s Texans for Public Education rally was just for openers; another rally to resist the divisive Patrick/Abbott agenda is set for the session’s opening day tomorrow under the theme of One Texas.
For those who cannot make it to Austin to rally or to lobby lawmakers, Texas AFT offers you a quick and easy way to make yourself heard from home. From our website you can contact your state senator and state representative with an e-letter demanding an end to the political games and a commitment to provide real state funding for public schools, education employees and retirees, along with relief for local school property-tax payers.
Send your e-letter to legislators right now, and be ready to weigh in early and often as we send out alerts during what’s likely to be a fast-moving 30-day special session. Buckle your seat belt; it’s going to be a bumpy ride!