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Kent Grusendorf ALAN POGUE district farther out. I had teachers there telling me, ‘Sylvester, if you just graduate in the top quarter of your school, you’ll be just fine. You don’t need to seek to go any higher than that.’ Their expectations were not that great…. They were insensitive ‘to a population that they had the responsibility of teaching.” “Don’t throw me back to the 1950s,” Turner said. “Don’t throw me back to that system, Steve [Ogden].” TURNER’S SPEECH WAS A PLEA for something other than the calculus of permanent dominance by a voting majority. If the majority that is both the racial majority and the voting bloc of conservative Democrats and Republicans will not negotiate with the minority in the House, then the legislative process means nothing. And black and Mexican-American legislators, Turner’s words suggested, understand the permanent dominance by the majority. “We did not get here without somebody demanding that a district be drawn a certain way,” Turner said. “If that had not happened, we would not be here. We wouldn’t be here. That’s why we are standing here. Do you think that if it were left up to the state of Texas, we would be here? If we left it to local control, that we would be here? We would not be here. And we are not there yet. I don’t care how you vote on the issue, the reality is, we are not there yet.” “The reason why home rule frightens many of us,” Senfronia Thompson added, “is because when locally, the numbers can run over a particular group, you don’t get fairness in the process, you get shut out of the process. And let me tell you where it starts. It starts right here in this chamber. Because, if we can get run over, let me tell you, back home, the people we represent will get run over just as well.” After the House voted 81-64, in favor of home-rule, Laney would only entertain a motion to adjourn, although the will of the House was clearly to continue working its way through the 400 floor amendments to the education bill. The Speaker seemed to have recognized the emotional toll the debate had taken on the members of the House. Scattered among those 400 amendments, along with Pampa Democrat Warren Chisum’ s social agenda of school prayer, abstinence as the only and essential element of sex education, and required parental consent anytime topics such as “sexuality, sexual behavior, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, death and dying, euthanasia, suicide and the occult” are mentioned in a classroom, were amendments filed by members of the two minority caucuses and other progressives, which would impose limits on the home-rule system. The waiver of the 22:1 student-toteacher ratio, according to most House progressives, worked two ways; it was both bad policy that would result in poorer instruction and less teacher involvement in children’s education, and as an incentive for poor school districts to become homerule districts in order to lower their personnel budgets. Hours before Sylvester Turner took to the floor, Calenders Committee Chair Mark Stiles of Beaumont delivered a speech that delivered the votes to require home-rule districts to abide by the 22:1 ratio, one of the fundamental education reforms enacted in 1984. As chairman of the Calendars Committee, which controls the flow of bills to the floor, Stiles is something of the E.F. Hutton of the House. When he speaks, people listen, and they listen more carefully late in the session when time is running out on everyone’s bills. And when Stiles invests some emotional currency in an issue, as he did at two critical moments in the debate that began early Friday, May 4, and ended three days later, early on Sunday, May 7, his colleagues tend to pay even more careful attention. In both instances, Stiles prevailed and the result was major improvement in the bill sent to conference committee. Seventy of 71 House Members initially voted to support the 22:1 ratio. On the vote to reconsider, a speech by Stiles helped make that a 62-86 voteto support the 22:1 ratio in homerule school districts. ALSO SCATTERED among the 400 floor amendmentssome of which were technical amendments, attempts to clean up language or provisions agreed to by the House Education Committee but brought up too late in the hearings processwere some drastic measures that received little attention as they were voted up or down. The 144-0 vote on the teacher pay raise was hardly a drastic measure. The provision only increases the state minimum pay scale and very few districts pay the minimum. So only 52,000 of the state’s 220,000 teachers get a pay increase. “Consider it like raising the minimum wage” said a Texas Education Agency policy wonk working in the temporary TEA information bunker behind the House chamber: “If the minimum wage is increased, do you get a raise? Only the people who earn minimum wage feel it.” An amendment that was a drastic measure was the elimination of the state’s teacher certification process, which passed by 81-60 late on the afternoon of May 5. Though the amendment did not dismantle the certification process, it would allow school districts to issue teaching certificates, which are only valid locally. Temple Republican Dianne White Delisi made the amendment sound something like a peace dividend windfall for public schools. Soldiers leaving Fort Hood as the Army down 4 MAY 19, 1995