Page 4


himself is enough accumulated brainpower to work out every detail of a superb school system. Instead, a quarter-century of obtuseness by our state leaders has brought all these eminently well-intentioned people here, playing their roles in the elaborate ritual of contentiousness inherent in the legal process, immersed in all the information, all the documentation all of it, in a sense, wasted. You probably could have run a small school district for a year on the money spent defending an obsolete, unfair system. Instead, the lawyers slog it out, in a forum intended to adjudicate disputes between parties, not to design elaborate administrative plans … while the kids wait yet another year. Think what a message the government would have sent to schoolchildren, and their parents, if instead of being dragged halfway to equity through a slough of legal delays, it had forthrightly done the right thing in the first place. That would have told our youth that education is a priority, that We care about their future, that the schooling of Texas chil dren is so important that their leaders were willing to stand up and create a system so good and so fair that all our children would have the chance to go as far in their lives as their talent and ambition will take them. Right now, too many of them don’t have that opportunity. And the only example our leaders have set for the children is one of the consequences of ignorance. The lesson isn’t worth the tuition. On that map in Judge McCown’s courtroom, there’s an inset, showing Texas’s position on the North American continent. The Republic’s relative size is far greater than today, both because much territory was ceded to other states and because advances in cartography permit more accurate depictions. Yet Texas seems today diminished in other ways as well, diminished in the size of its heart, the heart that Clayton Williams is so fond of talking about. We rank near the bottom in so many of the categories of compassion, but perhaps none are more tragic than those shameful figures on education spending and educational achievement, because they betray the future as well as the present. What’s worse is that it wouldn’t even take much courage for our leaders to make it right; polls consistently show voters are willing to make tax sacrifices for educating their children. The obstructionist legislators won’t see the results of their cowardice on the House floor. The full effects will be visible in those classrooms in Edgewood ISD, in the Valley, in the Fifth Ward in leaky ceilings, ragged textbooks, blighted futures. Meanwhile, the legal proceedings grind on in the Travis County courthouse, as our taxpayer-financed lawyers continue their tortuous defense of a worldview that has passed into history as surely as the Texas in that map on the wall. Come September, the school bells will ring again, in a system that is little better for many students than it has ever been. Shouldn’t we all understand, by now, for whom those bells will toll? SOCIAL CAUSE CALENDAR NAST & HOMER IN HOUSTON The Pen and the,Sword: Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, and the American Civil War, an exhibition of over 50 prints, will be on display August 4-February 3 at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. For more information call 713/639-7540. POLISH TEXAS The Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio will exhibit Panna Maria: An Image of PolishTexans ,July 25-October 21. This contemporary photographic essay by Joseph Jaworski documents the people, land, occupations, and church of Panna Maria, Texas, the oldest Polish settlement in the United States. For information, call 512/226-7651. CURE CONVENTION IN HUNTSVILLE Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Er vention in Huntsville, Saturday, August 11. CURE is a nationwide organization working for reform of the criminal justice system. The convention will include workshops with prison officials, discus sions of capital punishment, public ac countability of real costs of operating prisons, and meetings with “successful ex-exes. Some informal meetings and social events will be held on the Friday night before the convention. For informa tion, write Convention Chairperson Ray Hill, PO Box 3624, Houston Texas 77253. For reservations at the Criminal Justice OBSERVANCES July 28, 1859 First oil well drilled. July 28, 1868 Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified, guaranteeing due process of law to all citizens except Native Americans. August 3, 1981 President Reagan fires 11,500 striking air traffic controllers. August 5, 1884 Cornerstone for Statue of Liberty placed. August 6, 1945 Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. August 7, 1964 Congress passes Gulf of Tonkin resolution, granting President Johnson power to wage war in Indochina. August 8, 1974 Richard Nixon resigns. August 9, 1945 Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. August 14. i 457 First book printed. August 14, i46 Thoreati jailed for tax resistance. August 14, 1935 President Roosevelt signs Social S,:curity Act. August 15, 1969 Woodstock festival begins in New York. convention is open to the public and the media. Registration fee is $5.00. FAULK TRIBUTE The Man Who Beat the Blacklist, Bill Moyers’s biography/appreciation of John Henry Faulk filmed last year, will air in many Texas markets around August 1st. Check local public television listings for the airdate in your area. FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL The 19th Annual Texas Folklife Festival will be held from August 2-5 at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. The festival presents a panoply of Texas’s many cultures, as experienced through dance, art, music, food, crafts and other traditions. For more information call 512/ 226-7651. PANTEX PROTEST IN AMARILLO The seventh annual protest by peace and justice activists at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant outside Amarillo will be held at the Peace Farm adjacent to the plant from Friday, August 3-Sunday, August 5. The theme of this year’s Pantex Pilgrimage and Peace Camp will be “Celebrating a World Without Walls.” Bicycle pilgrims will ride across the state, speaking about Pantex and the arms race in the towns they visit, and will reach the Peace Farm on August 3. Saturday morning features workshops on the techniques of peace activism, and will include a speaker from Eastern Europe. A Peace Festival and Progressive Cause Gathering will be held in Amarillo Saturday afternoon, and folk singer Odetta will wind up the festival with a concert at 8 p.m. There will be an ecumenical service and action at the Pantex main gate Sunday morning. The event is sponsored by the Red River Peace Network, a coalition of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico activists. For information, contact the Peace Farm, HCR 2 Box 335-1715. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17