For those of you that don’t live in Texas, you should be aware that the 140 day biennial Texas Legislative Session has begun. So, from time to time, you’re likely to see me get extremely angry over silly little things like “rainy day fund”, “the budget”, “idiotic tea party Republicans” (though, isn’t that just kind of understood), “stupid redneck crazy gun freaks who want to arm teachers in our schools, but not do something silly like pay them a decent and living and comparable wage” (or, honestly, stupid redneck crazy gun freaks in general), and “stupid school voucher ideas”. I may also just yell extemporaneously ”OMG they can’t f___ing be serious”, although between you and me, if I’m in acceptable company, I’m going to be using the whole word, not just the first letter.
During the election last year, State Senator Mario Gallegos finally succumbed to his illness and left his seat vacant. So, right now, we’re a Democrat short in the State Senate, which, however you look at it, is bad. Because the seat is likely to go to another Democrat, Governor *coughs* Goodhair *coughs* Perry took his sweet time in announcing when the special election would take place, so it is taking place on the very last day it possibly can at the end of this month, and on a weekend.
There are 8 contenders in the race, and most likely will head to a run-off election. The two top contenders are Former City and County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia and current State House Representative, Carol Alvarado. Without going into too much detail about the reasons why, Sylvia Garcia won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, and is the preferred candidate among many local unions who do not do individual endorsements, but use the official AFL-CIO recommendation on their own. It was a difficult decision, because in the past Carol Alvarado has been a sometime ally to the unions.
Sylvia Garcia also won the single endorsement of the Texas Organizing Project, an organization I greatly respect, and, in all honesty, she is the candidate that I have volunteered for (honestly, very slightly) and whom I give a personal recommendation for, to people that ask me.
What I have been surprised by, though, is Carol Alvarado’s complete shift away from unions and community organizations that have helped her not only become a former City Council Member, but a current seated State Representative. Our state legislature is currently seriously examining very harmful legislation to public education that would allow for a voucher system. This, after they have done everything to defund the very system that they say is failing, and this, after they have gone solely to standardized testing as a determination of school performance, and this, after they do what they can to increase class size exponentially and, etc… etc… So, what you have is, a group of legislators that are trying to destroy public education, taking control of the very institute they hate (my own state Senator Dan Patrick, leading the charge, to my utter shame).
As you can imagine, the voucher programs currently under consideration are not favoured by the teacher union thugs like AFT. Which is why I’m perplexed by Carol Alvarado’s newfound alignment with a horrible organization, Stand for Children, which is an organization that believes that schools can be run like businesses and for a profit.
Without standing too long on my soapbox about how business and government are two different entities and have two vastly different end games, I will say that any time we attempt to privatize any part of our educational system, we meet with disaster. In my own school district, Cy-Fair, in one of the reddest parts of Harris County, the attempt to privatize school buses, was met by a number of companies bidding on the privilege, their bids all dramatically low, until they officially took over. Eventually, the privatization was completely nullified and Cy-Fair regained control over their school bus system, precisely because of the cost over-run of the attempts at privatization.
What really makes me wonder is: how Carol Alvarado hopes this is a winning strategy. I knew she wanted to be a State Senator, even to the possible detriment of losing a good and powerful Democratic Representative in the House during the session, a point I made to her not once, but twice, but how is it a winning strategy to go into a community where privatization would dramatically harm not just the educators, but the students and the families? How can she hope to gain the support of leaders in that very community like the Houston Federation of Teachers and other union households who are voting at a far higher percentage than their general population brethren?
I’ve read about people selling their soul to win elections. Hell, I’ve heard about it several times, too, but when you witness it firsthand, it is a different thing entirely. By proudly accepting Stand for Children’s endorsement, Carol Alvarado has lost what little faith I had in her voice in the Texas Legislature as a whole, and as a union “thug” myself, I cannot stand by and watch as she helps the Texas GOP further destroy the public education system in this state. They honestly do a good job all by themselves on that front.
Senate District 6 needs a Senator that will honor Mario Gallegos’s long legacy in the Senate, and not hold hostage the future of the children of Senate District 6. In short, Senate District 6 needs the only tough, smart, and savvy figure in the race. Senate District 6 needs Sylvia Garcia.
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