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EDITORIAL Myopia Texas Style INhen Speaker Tom Craddick \( R the five House members of the conference committee for House Bill 3, the school finance legislation, a number of legislators were went to the back microphone and had the following exchange with Craddick. “Did I not hear or did I just miss it, is there not a single Democrat on that list?” asked Flores. “Five members of the House, Mr. Flores” Craddick answered. After repeating the question and receiving the same answer, Flores continued. “All women?” Flores asked sarcastically. “No, not all women, Mr. Flores,” Craddick responded. “There are women that are members of the House, Mr. Speaker,” said Flores. In fact, not only were women and Democrats excluded entirely from the list of House conferees that will sit down with their Senate counterparts and fashion a school finance plan for the state of Texas, Craddick bypassed Latinos and blacks as well. When the Senate announced its names for the conference committees for HB 3 and House Bill 2, the school finance and education reform packages respectively, it wasn’t much bet ter. Among the 10 conferees, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst appointed only one Latino and one black. Of the 20 legislators who will be responsible for devising a plan to fix the crisis in public education in Texas, 15 are middle-aged male Anglo Republicans from suburban districts. What is extraordinary about the Republican leadership’s selectionsand indeed their entire approach to school finance this legislative sessionis how it willfully ignores both the demographic reality of the state and last year’s ruling on the subject from Judge John Dietz. On November 30, 2004, Dietz issued an opinion that vividly described what’s happening in this state. The number of students is exploding, with approximately 72,500 students added each year since 1990. Black and Latino students comprise 97 percent of the total increase \(and 58 The judge ruled that the Legislature was failing in its obligation under the Texas Constitution to provide an adequate education to the population, especially for minority communities. Dietz concluded, “The growth in these [minority] populations relative to the rest of the State is a clear indication that the overall performance of Texas public schools will depend increasingly on how well the needs of these populations of students are served.” In short, the very economic future of the state depends on educating the emerging Latino majority. Yet the state’s GOP leadership, and particularly Craddick in the House, has made it clear that it is not interested in responding to Dietz’s call. The schools need billions more dollars. But you won’t find much new funding for public schools in HB 3, the sprawling tax bill. Rep. Jim Keifer \(Rthe true goal of the legislation when he introduced it on the House floor, “This bill we are about to discuss gives the largest property tax reduction in history. This has been the purpose of this bill since its inceptionf The GOP leaders act as if they can simply wall themselves off from the changes underway in this state. “Public schools don’t mean a whole lot to them,” said House black Caucus Chairman Rep. Garabout the selection of House conferees. “He [Craddick] is making public policy for his kind of people.” Indeed, suburban, predominantly Anglo landowners who make more than $140,000 a year will realize a handsome tax cut under HB 2 and HB 3. In 20 years, though, the entire state will suffer for that short-term gain. The current leadership’s narrow ideology is dragging Texas toward the economic abyss. THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 97, NO. 11 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Circulation Manager Lara George Art Direction Buds Design Kitchen Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Roxanne Bogucka, Laurie Baker Webmaster Adrian Quesada Editorial Interns Naomi King, Star Silva, Forrest Wilder Lege Interns Elayne Mae Esterline, Monica Gutierrez, Chris Mahon, Lauren Reinlie, Jonathan York Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Molly lvins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocafias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Sharron Rush In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040copyrighted \(D2005, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues dation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page . Periodicals Postage paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. MAY 27, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3