Friday, March 30, 2007

Thanks, Rick.

Yesterday the Texas State House voted to give me a pay raise.

That in and of itself is a good piece of news, but do you know what makes it ever so sweet? The pay raise resulted from an amendment proposed by Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston) to take the funds that were being set aside for Rick Perry’s, Warren Chisum's, and Tom Craddick’s teacher incentive payment program and rechannel them into a two-year across the board pay raise for all teachers, librarians, counselors and school nurses in Texas public schools.

Rick challenged the House membership to do the right thing: “Bottom line, members, do we want to give teachers a pay raise?''. And they rose to the occasion.

I don’t think that there is a teacher in Texas who favored the incentive plan. The plan they proposed is divisive and morale-killing. Around the time that Houston ISD teachers were insulted with the HISD incentive plan, I posted this commentary about Pay for Performance.

House Democrats were united in voting for Noriega’s amendment, and they even picked up some Republican votes to carry the day. The vote was 90 to 56.

Yes, 56 Republicans voted no to teacher pay raises.

Get it? They took funds away from that evil and heinous program and distributed it fairly and evenly to the some of the most poorly paid educators in the nation. That’s not just justice, it’s poetic justice.

And this must have put them in a good mood, because almost immediately afterward, when Rep. Joe Heflin (D-Crosbyton) headed the effort to “ban spending any money allocated to the Texas Education Agency on a program in which state tax dollars pay for private-school vouchers”, that got passed as well and by a huge majority: 129-8. It wasn't too long ago that similar legislation was voted down by a very slim majority. Very clearly House members have finally heard Texans loud and clear that Texans support our public school system and take a dim view of taking state funds away from public schools.

I think Dr. Leininger is out of business. Now he needs to find some other part of the state budget to rob so he can sell his hospital beds.

I hear that House Democrats were not so lucky in getting other amendments to the budget bill passed, but for public school educators in Texas, it was a very good day.

Oh, and by the way, Rick Noriega's wife, Melissa Noriega, is running against a herd for Houston City Council At-Large Position 3 seat. No? You didn't know that? Early voting in the special election starts in just one short month so go here and do something for her campaign, OK?

UPDATE: The Senate put teacher pay for performance back in the budget. Swine.

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