Today is a good day to pause for a minute and recall how important public school districts are to civilized society. They are part of the bedrock upon which all the rest of it sits.
We were reminded of that this week by watching how quickly districts in Galveston County mobilized to feed children who otherwise would not have eaten while their campuses were closed.
It was an impressive and commendable response to the growing coronavirus crisis and a response that some other leaders might take lessons from if they were so inclined.
It also was a reminder about how much we expect from the educators, administrators and rank-and-file workers who keep the public schools functioning.
We expect them to deal with every societal problem we’ve ever heard about — poverty, homelessness, family strife, mental and physical health, drug and alcohol abuse and gun violence — and probably some we haven’t yet heard about and to educate children well enough to function in a complex, modern world.
Frequently, this fundamental public service job is also a thankless job and sometimes is worse than thankless.
The extent to which we rely on public schools is a relevant observation today, but it’s also a relevant public concern, or should be anyway, because there are people in the Texas Legislature who seem to believe we’d be better off without them.
If you doubt that, read the transcript of the infamous conversation among state lawmakers Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows and Michael Quinn Sullivan, the surrogate brain of many Texas conservatives. You can find it on the newspaper’s website in proximity to this editorial.
Here’s a little of what these three had to say:
Burrows said eliminating the public school maintenance and operation tax — that’s the revenue stream paying to maintain and operate public schools — is the Republican Party of Texas’ “number one priority.” That’s on page 21.
The context was these two elected leaders groveling to Sullivan, who nobody elected, about how they, and other like-minded Republicans, had done their best during the recently ended legislature to deliver a few Holy Grail bills, such as killing school taxes and dues check-off for public employee unions but had been stymied by those not committed to The Way.
They were virtually begging Sullivan not to turn his political machine, Empower Texans, against them during the GOP primaries.
It’s reasonable, in fact it’s a matter of civic responsibility, to ask how the public schools could function without the maintenance and operation tax, and why anybody would want to destroy the public education system we’ve spent decades building and upon which so much else depends.
The answer to the former seems clear — they can’t. The latter maybe less so. Could it be that some lawmakers think ignorant people are more apt to buy the dubious goods they’re selling?
It’s also reasonable to ask where these three, and those like-minded lawmakers, have been the past few days.
We know where our public school workers have been — out on the sidewalk delivering meals, helping hold everything together.
• Michael A. Smith