The Future of Public Education in Texas Lies in the Tea Party's Hands

As Katherine and Cliff have already noted, seven Republican incumbents lost their seats in the primary last Tuesday.  This is a telling reminder that the Republican Party, particularly here in Texas, is experiencing a dramatic idealistic shift from a moderate classical pro business Republican to a new extreme socially conservative Republican.  Yes, social conservatism has been strong since George Bush's "compassionate conservatism" message, but the harsh anti-immigrant, anti-government tea party platform is a new iron in the fire for the Republican message here in Texas.

What this means for Texas is telling.  Consider that when Rick Perry was gearing up to run for President last legislative he session, a time when the tea party message was expected to exalt tea party leaders like Perry, he called a special session in 2011 just to cut 5.4 billion dollars to public education here in Texas, when there were other alternatives on the table.

Rick Perry politically positioned himself for a tea party candidacy with this harsh slash and burn approach to public education. And now, sadly but not at all surprisingly Texas public schools are suffering from from Rick Perry's irresponsible governing.  With seven Republican incumbents gone, predominately replaced by new tea party types, this can mean a grave thing for Texas public schools.  The legislature is already going to be a lot different with 27 retirements, but the consequences of this for Public Education, considering Rick Perry's tea party leadership on the issue, can be dire.

Five of the eleven members of the House Public Education Committee will not be returning, but the main losses come from the Chair and Vice Chair, Rob Eissler (the "punniest" man in the House) and Scott Hochberg (the smartest guy in the room, no really, he's an engineer by training).  Hochberg is retiring and Eissler lost on Tuesday to a tea-party candidate.  Between the two of them they have over half a century of experience working with public education issues in Texas.  The loss is huge, but representatives like Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) and Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) have backgrounds in education and have shown a great capacity for leadership on these issues.  

Hopefully these new tea party members know what kind of public school crisis they are walking into here in the Texas Legislature.  If they only look to Rick Perry for answers, they will find no leadership on the issue whatsoever, only an small admission that the system isn't working, but no desire or ability for a solution.  

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