A few months back, I was startled to see a large billboard with a row of beautiful, young children.
They were all smiling, and the message was “Thank you Texas.”
I was puzzled. For what could the children of Texas be thankful?
I am a pediatrician and have cared for children for over 50 years. Over the last several decades I have “specialized” in caring for children with special health care needs. I am very familiar with what the state of Texas offers the children of Texas.
I am very sorry, but the children of Texas have little to be thankful for.
Texas is one of the lowest-ranked states in the nation for the well-being of children, according to a recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Texas is ranked relative to other states, so its performance is based on how well it performed compared to other states.
In 2020, 2,238 children and teens died in Texas. This equals about 28 deaths per 100,000 adolescents. In Massachusetts the adolescent death rate is 14 per 100,000, half the Texas rate.
In 2019, the Casey foundation reported that 70 percent of Texas eighth graders were not proficient in math, a decline of 6 percent points in a decade. Even worse, 70 percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading.
Did you know that state education agency put a limit of the percent of students the schools could recognize as needing special help in learning? It cost more to offer special help.
Every Texan, a non-partisan, nonprofit policy institute, says “Well-funded schools should be able to fairly pay and hire more teachers and school counselors: commit to smaller classroom sizes; invest in special education and bilingual/English learning programs; and offer a wider variety of courses.”
Diverting the underfunded education funds to “private” or charter schools will only deplete the funds available to the public or common man.
Access to mental health care ranks Texas 51st, below all other U.S. states and Washington D.C. Access to health care is a major issue. The present governing majority refuses to expand Medicaid. Eleven percent of Texas children do not have health insurance, compared to the national average of 5 percent.
A broken leg or head injury could bankrupt a family.
Despite being home to more than 4,000 gun deaths a year — more than any other state — and mass shootings at Sutherland Springs church, El Paso Walmart, Midland-Odessa, Santa Fe and Uvalde has actually made access to firearms easier.
Gov. Greg Abbott could have called a special session to look at responsible gun legislation. Why didn’t he?
The present leadership does not care for children. I implore you to carefully evaluate the voting record of the candidates. VoteSmart.org. is a source of this information.
You’ll find out that U.S. Randy Weber has not voted for children’s health or well-being. You’ll find the Republican governing majority has not voted for children.
So, why would Texas’ children be thankful?
Vote for your children. They need you.