‘They are starving us to death,’ says union boss despite $53 billion ed budget

Texas teachers’ unions are outraged that education funding might go to any school but their own.

The outrage followed Gov. Greg Abbott’s support for school choice in his inaugural address.

“Our schools are for education, not indoctrination,” Abbott said. “We must reform curriculum to get kids back to the basics of learning and empower parents with the tools to challenge that curriculum when it falls short of expectations.

“No one knows what is better for a child’s education than their parents. Those parents deserve the freedom to choose the education that’s best for their child.”

Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick previously signaled their support for education freedom and may use some of the state’s $33 billion surplus to fund school vouchers.

Although teachers’ unions have historically opposed school choice, the Houston Federation of Teachers’ (HFT) response borders on theatrical.  

“[Texas lawmakers] are continuing to rob the public schools and send money to private charters and are trying to privatize our schools,” claimed Jackie Anderson, president of HFT. “They are starving us to death.”  

In reality, Texas public schools receive $11,000 in state and local funding per student and spend over $53 billion annually.  

Its spending is equal to or greater than many other states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana and Florida.  

Nonetheless, state lawmakers were accused of using school choice for personal gain.  

“The only thing I can see is that they’re behold to someone or some entity or a certain group of people,” said one critic. “Because you’re basically turning your back on the majority of Texas students and Texas schools.”  

Though unions do their best to disparage school choice, such policies have been shown to help students and their families by increasing parental involvement, providing tailored educational opportunities, enabling low-income families to access high-quality education, raising graduation rates and saving taxpayer dollars. 

In contrast, the only people benefiting from forcing students to stay in public schools are the teachers’ unions – and the politicians they fund and endorse, say critics.  

While many states are preparing to pass school choice legislation, Texas remains one of the dozen or so states still lacking such a program.