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JUST US: Seeking the Common Good

Hello NorthPark! I thought I’d meet you here to explore a topic for each month. I look forward to noticing what topics come before us to engage us in contemplation and action. Today I’m considering Thursday evening’s conversation about The Accommodation that took place at NorthPark.

In that event, author Jim Schutze voiced his disbelief in how people could look at children of another community and call them their children. “Children do not choose where they are born. They come into the world like all of us. They are our children, our future.” His concern connects directly to our public school system, which is the topic I want to explore this month. There is a pending special legislative session on school choice, otherwise known as vouchers or education savings accounts.

What I’ve been learning…

  • The Texas Constitution mandates “the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” – Article 7, Section 1. “The permanent school fund and the available school fund may not be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.” – Article 7, Section 5(c).

  • In 1954 Texas Gov. Allan Shivers convened a committee for a plan to circumvent integration in public schools. That plan was vouchers. New language, i.e. education savings account, is designed to distract from the fact that funds will be diverted from marginalized communities and public schools.

  • Privatized systems are not held to financial or educational standards even when receiving public funds.

  • The voucher amount is not enough for marginalized communities to access a quality private school. Nor do private schools provide transportation.

  • Private schools pick and choose students through an application process. A voucher does not guarantee a student school choice.

  • Texas schools are underfunded by billions of dollars: record inflation would require $14 billion to be allocated to Texas schools to bring the buying power of 2019 into 2023. $2.6 billion was provided this past legislative session.

The impact of public schools…

  • Texas public school students are the future workforce – every dollar invested in Texas ISD’s equates to $57 of economic gain for the state.

  • Public education is the center of mutual community gathering, breaking down barriers of economics and bringing together diversity.

  • Public schools are accountable to the public sources of their funding.

  • Public schools are accessible to the community, not requiring personal transportation.

  • Properly funded public schools can provide quality educators and holistic support through the presence of school counselors and social workers.

What are we called to do?...

  • Contemplate Matthew 19:13-15. What is good for all our children?

  • Discover the position of the PC(USA) on public schools.

  • Act for the common good of ALL students.

  • Learn more about the privatization of schools here and some Texas ISD’s here.

  • Call, write, visit your legislators with your informed opinion.

  • Contemplate what the Texas State Teachers Association supports. They are raising their voice in Austin on October 7. If you want to support our teachers, consider attending.

Thank you for taking time today. Please reach out to me here if you’d like to visit more about JUST US for our children.

In this together, Amy.


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