June 27, 2013

The Texas legislature recently passed a bill that changes the requirements for high school graduation. The bill reduces the amount of Social Studies credits that students must earn and makes the study of World History optional. I find it appalling and irresponsible that the students of Texas will no longer be required to study World History given that the United States is itself more multicultural and more interconnected within a larger global community than ever before. World History examines history from a global perspective, which is both necessary and relevant in the 21st century.

As we celebrate July 4th we should recognize that many of the ideas and values that make our country great have roots elsewhere and quickly spread beyond our shores. The individuals in Philadelphia who debated the issue of independence from Great Britain were well read in European political philosophy and shared many Judeo-Christian values. The principles of government declared in 1776 have spread throughout the world and the history of the United States has taken place within a larger global context that students should understand, analyze, and appreciate.

Does our legislature not think that students should learn about ancient Athens, the birthplace of democracy, or the rise and fall of the Roman Empire? What about the growth of the Catholic Church throughout the Middle Ages and the Protestant Reformation that followed the Renaissance? Of course, students will still learn about the American Revolution in their U.S. History class, but shouldn’t they also learn about the revolutions that were inspired by American independence? What about the French Revolution? The independence movements in Latin America? The spread of democracy to Africa and Asia?

The Texas legislature must think that the United States is the center of the universe to allow the students of Texas to be ignorant of humanity’s larger story. What’s next? Replacing U.S. History with Texas History? There is an entire world out there and a good education should cultivate knowledge and appreciation of the global community within which we live. Federalism may give the state of Texas the authority to render the study of World History an option, but parents can trump states’ rights by exercising local, independent judgment to encourage their kids to enroll in World History regardless. Personally, I question the future being envisioned by those who consider knowledge of World History optional.

July 8, 2012

As a teacher enjoying time off to attend professional workshops and plan for the coming school year, I began to reflect, given the recent celebration of July 4th, on how well our schools are preparing America’s youth for participation in our democracy and what message students are receiving from their society, parents, teachers, media, and even political leaders about what is expected of them, or even possible for them to achieve. Today, the United States is experiencing what seems to be quite a lot of political activism, from the Tea Party movement to the Occupy movement, but I doubt whether our schools, the media, or our leaders are interpreting these movements in such a manner that legitimates them or communicates to young people that such movements are worth participating in. The question is: are students being prepared for democracy and encouraged to participate in politics? Or, a related question: what forces are discouraging young people from participating in politics?

What is the purpose of politics? Of representative democracy? Well, we are all familiar enough with the basic concept: politics is the art of organizing and maintaining the various aspects of a society; and representative democracy is the participation of the people in determining how society is organized and maintained. In a democracy the people are the government, which means that the people are self-governing. Throughout the history of the United States, wealthy individuals and businesses have exercised various degrees of disproportionate influence over government (the people), exercising a lesser degree of still disproportionate influence during times of popular “unrest,” periods when the people have organized on a massive scale to “take back” the government, which is essentially a reassertion of their right to govern themselves, to have their vision for society actually determine how society is organized and maintained.

Today, two movements are trying to “take back” the government: the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers. In my opinion, the libertarians in the Tea Party movement have legitimate concerns about Big Government, but what they fail to see is that corporations, who largely control the government (the people), pose a much bigger threat to individual liberties and American values than Big Government. Thus, the Occupy movement’s emphasis on the corporate corruption of democracy. I believe that some libertarians could find common cause with the Occupy movement, but the Christian nationalists within the Tea Party movement want to “take back” something else entirely, not the government as it ever actually existed, but as they imagine it to have been: some sort of “democracy” that was also “Christian.”

If we want to determine whether students are being prepared for democracy and encouraged to participate in politics or discouraged from engaging in the political process, then we must understand the influence that politics has on education, specifically, the influence that libertarian and Christian nationalist views have on education. In Texas, the influence of both groups is rather pronounced. “The Revisionaries,” a documentary about the Texas State Board of Education, details the influence of Christian nationalism on issues such as man-made climate change and the separation of church and state, both of which many board members think are “liberal myths.” Texas requires teachers to present denial of man-made climate change as an acceptable scientific position, emphasizing the “controversy” over climate change. Workshops, based on Texan David Barton’s pseudo-scholarship, arguing that the separation of church and state is a “liberal myth” are offered as professional development in some Texas school districts. Recently, our governor ran for president saying that he wanted to “make government as inconsequential to [our] lives as possible.” More recently, the Texas Republican Party’s platform included language suggesting that schools should stop teaching critical thinking skills because they “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

What is going on here? Critical thinking skills are the foundation of education. An individual has to be able to analyze, evaluate, and judge arguments, beliefs, and ideas in order to decide what they think or how they want to act. The only person who thinks that critical thinking is no longer necessary is the person who thinks that they have access to undeniable, absolute truth that leaves no room for doubt or self-criticism. Personally, it seems like only God could claim exemption from critical thinking. Doubt is what necessitates faith. Doubt is what enables an individual to listen to other perspectives out of a desire to self-examine one’s present beliefs or opinions. A willingness to hear other arguments, sincerely consider the merits of other perspectives, and critically analyze one’s own positions is necessary for democratic deliberation.

Those politicians and libertarians who assure the people that society’s problems stem from too much government, that government regulation is ruining the economy, that more tax cuts for the wealthy and major corporations will stimulate job growth, are pawns of the growing corporatocracy. Those politicians and business leaders who mock citizen activists, unless of course it is a Tea Party rally, do not want the people to participate in the decision-making process because the beliefs of average middle-class Americans, from their support for universal, single-payer health care (Medicare for All) to their support for a repeal of Citizens United, stand in direct opposition to the corporate agenda pushed by corporate-funded politicians. Those politicians who entertain fantasies of reclaiming the United States as a “Christian” nation forget that Christianity itself has many different denominations and various interpretations of Scripture and most importantly that religious freedom, the ability to practice your faith and not have another’s faith imposed on you, is what brought many of the earliest settlers to America.

The Republican Party is fractured: corporatists, libertarians, Christian nationalists; and the Democratic Party is a milder corporate version of the Republican Party due to the nature of campaign finance. The people are organizing on a massive scale to “take back” the government, to reclaim the right and the privilege of self-government. The media is ignoring them, politicians are avoiding them, and business leaders are mocking them. What are the schools doing? Not much. To inform students about much of the content of this column is considered “having a political agenda” or “indoctrinating the youth.” Critics argue that merely exposing students to the realities of their society, their government, and their environment is synonymous with “brainwashing” them. The result: America’s youth do not know what challenges they face, how to confront those challenges, or why it matters. The government is the people. We need more government, that is, more people actively involved in the political process. Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. If Democrats continue to vote, then Democrats can get elected in Texas. If sane Republicans would vote, then we could at least have sane Republicans in office. But, as Father Daniel Berrigan once said: “if voting were effective, it would be illegal.” Taking our voices to the ballot box should be a requirement, but taking our voices to the streets is a privileged responsibility.

August 7, 2011

The Texas Legislature’s assault on public school funding last spring came as a surprise to many people. Texas has a budget deficit? I thought our economy was doing well compared to other states?

The Texas Legislature’s assault on teachers came as a surprise, as well. Texas wants to use a temporary budget “crisis” to enact permanent changes to teachers’ rights? Note: Teachers in Texas already lack the rights that were being defended by teachers in Wisconsin in response to Governor Scott Walker’s “reforms.”

In the end, the Texas legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education, with the poorest districts taking the hardest financial hit. Overall, it could have been worse, but this past legislative session was a horrible indication of how vulnerable public education has become to conservative and corporate schemes to gradually dismantle the public education system.

I fear that the cuts to public education are part of a conservative and corporate assault on education as a public good. The under-funding of public education is part of a circular strategy to create the conditions where schools will fail in order to justify the introduction of market-based reform initiatives, advertised as “choice” and “competition,” with the ultimate aim of privatizing education. The strategy is to starve the public schools of funding until the schools deteriorate to the point where “reform” is necessary. This is a situation in which the same people who create an artificial crisis will then offer the solution. They will claim that public schools are a failure and then insist that tax dollars be used towards private schools and charter schools.

Sounds like a conspiracy theory, right?

The failure of No Child Left Behind and market-based solutions to improve public education has been well documented by Diane Ravitch, an historian of education at NYU and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, in her book The Life and Death of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education (2010). Ravitch argues that the “reform” movement that began under George W. Bush and that has continued under Barack Obama is a failure. She insists that, “No Child Left Behind has no vision other than improving test scores in reading and math. It produces mountains of data, not educated citizens. It ignores the importance of knowledge. It promotes a mechanistic, anti-intellectual definition of education.” Increasingly, it promotes a business-model definition of education.

Yet, it is NCLB and its definition of “success” that recently deemed half of Texas schools as failing to meet federal standards. Sounds like public education is really deteriorating, right? Well, the Texas legislature just cut $5.4 billion from the same schools that are supposedly under-performing. Not only are the assessments used to judge schools misguided, but schools are also not being adequately funded to begin with. Ravitch’s book chronicles the evolution of the charter school movement and explains that what was originally an initiative to improve public schools, has become a corporate-sponsored movement hostile to public schools. Those who advocate school and teacher accountability based on test scores also promote the spread of charter schools and blame teachers unions for poor test scores. In other words, these “reformers” insist that if a public school is deemed a “failure” according NCLB, then the appropriate response is to transform it into a charter school. Such an approach embraces market-based solutions of “competition” and “choice.” Advocates insist that schools should compete for students in the same way that businesses compete for consumers. Thus, education becomes a private commodity rather than a public good.

Under NCLB as it currently exists, if public schools do not meet specific academic proficiency requirements by 2014, they will be deemed “failing” and could be turned into charters, closed, or privatized. Ravitch insists that, “an important distinction should be made between ‘positive accountability,’ where low scores trigger an effort to help the school, and ‘punitive accountability,’ where low scores provide a reason to fire the staff and close the school.” By refusing to adequately fund public education, the Texas legislature and Governor Perry are setting Texas public schools up for failure. What they intend to do to improve public education remains a mystery. The average citizen was unaware of the scheming taking place in Austin last spring, but now that people see what has transpired it is our responsibility to make our voices heard. Public education must be adequately funded and defended as a public good.

The reason we knew nothing about the budget deficit facing Texas was due to federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that was used to close the budget gap created in 2006 by tax cuts. Ironically, Governor Perry and other conservatives denigrated the stimulus bill as “out-of-control Washington spending,” but it was arguably the stimulus money that enabled Perry to get re-elected in 2010. After his re-election the state suddenly faced a $27 billion budget deficit, who knew? A few months ago, the rehiring of teachers in Humble ISD who had been laid off due to state budget cuts was only possible due to the Federal Education Jobs Fund. So, while the Tea Party chants, “cut, cap, and balance,” it is the federal government that has been shielding people from the realities of how Tea Party economics would actually impact their lives.

Speaking of the Tea Party and its love of constitutions, the Texas Constitution, in Article VII, states: “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”  Furthermore, the Texas Supreme Court, in Edgewood I.S.D. v. Kirby, 1989, stated, “It must be recognized that the Constitution requires an ‘efficient,’ not an ‘economical,’ ‘inexpensive,’ or ‘cheap’ system.” The current legislature has not upheld its constitutional duty and those who voted to de-fund public education, like those in the Texas House of Representatives who voted for a budget that would cut $8 billion from public education, should be held accountable at the polls and in the press.

Many people do not understand how we got into this economic mess or why politicians consider public education an appropriate area to cut spending. The answer is the marriage between anti-tax groups and big business. The far-right faction of the Republican Party is as opposed to tax increases for government services and programs at the state level as it is at the national level. The Tea Party says “no” in Washington D.C. and the Tea Party says “no” in Austin. The Tea Party believes in supply-side economics as dogma. They are convinced that “big government” is the “enemy” and that they must “stand their ground” in defiance of those who will “compromise.” In a democracy, political, ethical, social, and economic ideas should be subject to debate and people should be willing to engage in rational dialogue. Unfortunately, many people who support the far-right faction of the Republican Party equate political positions with religious beliefs, anyone who challenges your “beliefs” must be an evil force.

Arguably, the Bush years proved that supply-side economics is a failure. It argues that lower taxes and deregulation will spur economic growth, but lowering taxes, especially on the rich, simply reduces the amount of government revenue necessary to fund important services and programs like public education or Medicare. Income inequality increases as the rich get richer and the middle class loses the purchasing power necessary to keep the economy going. The far-right faction of the Republican Party has embraced a circular argument in order to dismantle the welfare state, and possibly public education, as well. They insist on cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations, which results in budget deficits, and then argue that government spending must be reduced in order to balance the budget. Gradually, government shrinks and important programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and public education are targeted for privatization.

It is now valid to ask whether or not far-right Republicans view public education with the same limited-government disdain as they do Social Security and Medicare. Paul Ryan, a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, has proposed turning Medicare into a voucher system. George W. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security during his second term (imagine if he had succeeded given the financial collapse of 2008). It is no longer a conspiracy theory that public education may come under the same attack. In fact, it seems increasingly to be our new reality.

The Nation recently published multiple articles exposing the corporate influence on state legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. The annual ALEC conference was recently held in New Orleans, Louisiana and it is through this conference that corporations directly influence the legislation that is written, proposed, and passed at the state level. “Model” bills are formulated and voted on by both corporate interests and state legislators. The “model” bills are then introduced at the state level. It is the ALEC conference that is the originator of many of the bills that caught citizens all over the country by surprise during this last legislative session. According to John Nichols of The Nation, “ALEC’s priorities for the 2011 session included bills to privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, and pass voter ID laws.” Sound familiar?

Alecexposed.org is a new website that contains examples of model bills on a variety of issues. According to ALEC Exposed, three of the most influential state legislators during the last legislative session in Austin, Sen. Florence Shapiro (R), Rep. Diane Patrick (R), and Rep. Rob Eissler (R), are all members of the ALEC Educational Task Force. So, if you’ve ever wondered where politicians come up with education reform bills, the general answer is the private sector and the specific answer may be ALEC. Julie Underwood of The Nation explains that the strategy encouraged by ALEC is for state legislators to introduce a variety of bills on a specific topic (ex: public education) simultaneously. The result is that the education community will not be able to respond quick enough to defeat all of the bills. In other words, if you attack using a large legislative force with speed then at least some of the bills will get through. Again, sound familiar?

Is public education in danger of being privatized? Possibly. Public education is certainly under attack. Should those who support public education oppose the charter school movement? Not, exactly. The charter school movement is complex and could work with public education to improve our nation’s schools. Overall, public education must be defended as a public good, “competition” between schools should be recognized as a recipe for re-segregation and inequality, and decreasing funding is surely not going to improve anything.

Currently, schools are being assessed based on test scores and “competition” between schools is based on test scores, as well. Schools, and increasingly teachers, are being held accountable for their student’s test scores, but almost no consideration is being given to what students are supposed to be learning. We should consider the words of Diane Ravitch: “When we define what matters in education only by what we can measure, we are in serious trouble. When that happens, we tend to forget that schools are responsible for shaping character, developing sound minds in healthy bodies, and forming citizens for our democracy, not just teaching basic skills.”

Update: June 27, 2013

President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program has been an attempt to improve NCLB, but the program expands charter schools and embraces the failed teacher accountability model embraced by the business community. Basically, NCLB and “Race to the Top” are in agreement and the “reform” movement has reached a bi-partisan consensus. I find both NCLB and “Race to the Top” troubling. Diane Ravitch continues to speak out against the accountability model that she helped spread during the 1990s. She was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Save Texas Schools rally in Austin. As the 2014 NCLB 100% proficiency deadline approaches, many states have received waivers under “Race to the Top” and the Common Core Standards have become the subject of much debate. ALEC is still influencing legislation, but Voter ID laws were struck down before the 2012 election. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, however, will enable many state legislatures to pass Voter ID laws that would have been deemed unconstitutional.

February 15, 2011

The time has come for individuals, as citizens and as educators, to critically examine their role within society and to honestly assess whether or not those in power are truly representing the interests of middle and working class Americans; particularly public employees. The time has come for issues to be viewed, for constructive purposes, through a black-and-white, wrong-or-right framework.

Regardless of what an individual’s general political opinions and affiliations may be during an election, fundamental values and essential beliefs regarding the role and purpose of public education are under attack; and the offensive is being waged by a specific party with a specific set of political goals. The “culture wars” should be set aside and the very real, very pressing “economic wars” should be confronted head-on by all of those whose careers and children’s futures are at stake. Those in power are making decisions that detrimentally affect those who put them in power, and if the people disagree with the decisions being made then the people should exercise their basic, fundamental, Constitutional right to speak, organize, and resist. The stakes are too high for the state of Texas and for the nation. An assault on the public sector is presently being waged across the nation in the name of “austerity” and “fiscal responsibility,” but where is the fiscal responsibility in allowing the foundation of our democracy, the public school system, to crumble as the defense budget remains untouched, as corporations maniacally exploit the populace out of endless greed, and as the wealthy continue to rig the tax structure in their favor?

Tonight, in Kingwood and all over the city of Houston, the halls of the hospitals are full of people waiting to receive care. The ER is full because Texas has the most uninsured people in the country. The irony of America is that a “grass-roots” movement like the Tea Party can organize to resist “socialized medicine,” while in reality, before our own eyes, in our own school districts, the private-sector continues its unabated march against anything and everything that is public. The Republican Party, the Tea Party and political conservatives believe, fundamentally, that the private-sector and the “competition” that it provides will result in better quality health care and their position regarding education is essentially the same.

Tonight, college students are contemplating whether or not to continue their teacher certification programs given that the state of Texas is potentially laying-off thousands of public school teachers. I recently graduated from a public university and received certification in both English and History with the intention of teaching as a career. I will complete a Masters degree this May and should consequently receive a higher salary next year; instead I will most likely be asked to teach more classes for less money, if I have a job at all. Is this the American dream? Is this what the “war on terror” is preserving?

Governor Perry and the Republican-dominated legislature in Austin insist that Texas deal with its “budget crisis” by drastically reducing funding for public education. It is not a coincidence that the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today rejected President Obama’s proposal to re-invest in education as “runaway spending.” Barack Obama (the liberal, “socialist”) is now completely capitulating to corporate America, but even he still understands that education is a non-negotiable if the country is to have a meaningful, long-term recovery. Meanwhile, the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, heavily pressured by the Tea Party Caucus, are pressing for even deeper spending cuts in the short-term (except to the military, of course).

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, is waging an all-out war against public employees in that state with an attempt to end collective bargaining, reduce salaries, and cut benefits. Other pro-union states in the Midwest and Northeast are also under attack. To many Texans, uttering the word “union” is considered more offensive than not attending church; however, the erosion of the few “rights” that teachers do presently possess is being contemplated by those in power as I write.

State legislators are attempting to cut $10 billion from public education and this will move Texas schools backwards for an entire generation of students. The “budget crisis,” which is being used as the justification for these cuts was created by the same people who are now in power, and the “budget crisis” occurred due to the same economic policies they are currently supporting as the “necessary” solution to the problem. The state needs money? Why doesn’t the state raise taxes? The answer: the conservative dogma that lowering taxes, that cutting taxes, that giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, will result in increased prosperity for everyone! Their response to any economic or budget issue is to “cut taxes” and “increase competition.” Well, cutting taxes results in lessrevenue to be spent on the public school system. Increased competition regarding education refers to “vouchers” for private schools or for-profit charter schools. Republican legislators argue that parents should have more “options” if their child attends an inadequate public school, but these same legislators are proposing deep budget cuts to the public school system that will result in further deterioration! The funding situation for public education will soon become a circular argument: public schools are inadequate… so the state should allocate more money for “vouchers.” The result: money is taken away from the public school system in order to make up for the “inadequacy” caused by a lack of money! The results of an under-funded system will be used as a justification for the further under-funding of that system.

The present budget proposals put forth by the legislature and the governor are simply a microcosm of what the Republican Party and the Tea Party want to enact on a national scale. The result will be what Chris Hedges describes in Empire of Illusion: “a nation that has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small and privileged group that governs, and steals, on behalf of moneyed interests.” Freedom is being redefined as the “free market” and the government simply ensures the “rights” of corporations to financially dominate the political process and exploit its employees. The Republican Party won the U.S. House of Representatives due to the Tea Party Movement, which considers itself a populist, libertarian movement opposed to “big government.” The irony of America is that “big government” is not the problem. Presently, the government (what remains of it) is the only thing standing between the citizenry and complete corporate domination and the privatization of all aspects of the economy. The private sector is governed by the profit-motive, while the government is concerned with the common good. The government is accountable to its citizens as its elected representatives, but the private sector is not accountable to anyone. Corporate America, since the Reagan Administration, has gradually chipped away at the power of labor unions and has slowly cultivated an influence on the legislative process that presently dictates what is discussed, written, and passed. The United States is becoming characterized by what Sheldon Wolin has coined inverted totalitarianism, which “unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions.” Hedges insists that, “America has become a façade. It has become the greatest illusion in a culture of illusions. It represents a power and a democratic ethic it does not possess.” I disagree with the notion that America has gone too far down a certain path to redirect itself and I would like to address what I consider to be some myths and misconceptions regarding the “budget crisis” and public education that are presently preventing many people from becoming politically active and critically engaged.

In sum, I believe there are at least four myths or misconceptions that must be addressed:

Myth #1: Powerlessness. Lately, I have perceived in many people a passivity that indicates a belief that nothing can be done to prevent the gutting of the public school system. I could not disagree more. The legislature is already beginning to react to the uproar from the education community and the people concerned about the state’s public school system. The newspapers and cable news are reporting; let’s give them something to report!

Myth#2: Somebody else’s job; somebody else’s district. It seems that too many people are failing to recognize that this “budget crisis” is going to impact everyone. The decrease in funding will impact every district, every school, every classroom, and every student. Those who are fortunate enough to keep their job will be working more for less pay. Planning and grading will increase as class sizes and course-splits increase. Furthermore, the overall decline in the public school system will have long-term social, cultural, economic, and political impacts that will make future job security and quality uncertain.

Myth #3: This was unavoidable. It seems that too many people are failing to recognize that this “crisis” has its genesis in specific decisions made by the current governor and many of the current legislators. Governor Perry would like the public to believe that these “spending cuts” are in response to the national recession, but that is not entirely true. Legislation passed by the state legislature in the form of tax cuts led to the current situation. In other words, there is someone to blame and the economic and political decisions that led to this situation should be openly criticized. If President Obama can be blamed for the state of the nation’s economy, how can Governor Perry not be held accountable for the state’s economy?

Myth #4: The legislature does not have a choice. A source of the passivity among many people is the assumption that the only possible way to proceed is in the direction that the current budget proposals lead. The governor and the legislature arechoosing to tackle the “budget crisis” with cuts to education. They do not have to cut spending from education! They can be convinced to choose another path if the populace demands that they do so. The Rainy Day Fund can be used and new sources of revenue can be created. If the legislature is willing to change laws in order to decrease teacher salaries, why can’t the legislature change laws in order to allow new property taxes or other taxes that will generate revenue to not only resolve the current funding crisis, but also resolve the long-term funding issues that Texas will continue to face in the future?

A revolution started in Egypt after a video was posted on YouTube. The popular, democratic demonstrations were for a time suppressed by tear gas manufactured in the U.S. How far do we have to stray from our democratic values and traditions before the irony becomes a tragedy? The issue is black-and-white and the choice is between right-and-wrong. Demand that the right thing be done. Demand that public education be adequately funded. Demand that people should take priority over profit. Demand what is necessary of yourself to get the job done!

Update June 27, 2013

The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education in 2011. I was laid off shortly after writing this article, but was fortunately rehired at the end of the semester. In March 2011, in support of public education, 10,000 people marched in Austin to protest the spending cuts as part of the Save Texas Schools campaign. In 2013, the Texas Legislature restored most of the funding that was cut in 2011, but Texas has a growing population that will require further increases in state funding. I have been teaching at Kingwood High School for three years and absolutely love my job!