Wednesday, September 01, 2010

TEA Not Concerned With the Lives of Students

It’s not what you say, but what you do that counts. A friend told me that recently and its truth keeps on echoing around me.

In the last legislative session, the State House and State Senate, in reacting to the tragic loss of life when a Beaumont chartered school bus overturned on the way to a soccer match, passed a law that allocated $10 million to reimburse school districts who pay for the equipping of new school buses with seat belts.

There’s something that I have been wondering about for years. It is state law to belt yourself in, in an automobile, but children are free to bounce off of walls and ceilings when a school bus has an accident. This law was a no-brainer and way past due.

But yesterday the Texas Education Agency pared that $10 million allocation to $3.6 million because they are under a mandate to reduce their budget by 5%.

Now by my math that is a reduction of 64%, not 5%. Obviously they are not going at this budget reduction in a 5% across the board approach.

In other words, in exchange for the health and safety of children who ride the bus every day, the TEA is enabling itself to keep the same funding in other programs. Or maybe even raise the funding.

The TEA spends billions of dollars every year on testing. Billions. Ten million dollars to ensure the safety of our school children is a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Rick Perry’s words when he signed the bill into law included this: “[this law] will not only save lives, it will give parents peace of mind every morning their children leave their home for school and climb aboard a bus.”

Peace of mind? As Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say on SNL, “Never mind.”

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