This is a cross post. Please read and comment on A Modest Proposal to Resolve the Budget Shortfall in the State of Texas on Chron.com
My friend Jason Wilson and I were taking break at a pub in our neighborhood watching the NCAA Finals recently when we overheard two men at the table next to us talking about shutting down the schools. I asked if they wouldn’t mind explaining just what the heck they were talking about. The man on the left, Frank Austin, reached into his pocket and handed us a handwritten letter he was hoping the Austin American Statesman would publish. It is the dumbest thing I ever read, but here it is in case you are interested.
A MODEST PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE THE BUDGET SHORTFALL IN THE STATE OF TEXAS
– by Frank Austin
In Texas we have a budget crisis. The two year budget being debated by the Texas House and now moving on to the Senate reflects a 27 Billion dollar shortfall.# The Texas electorate has demanded that the state cut the waste out of government and our legislators are working towards that goal with a pledge of “no new taxes” and to not “dip into the rainy day fund.”
The situation is particularly challenging for schools with the budget in the House. A few facts from the House version of the budget from Jason Embry with the Austin American Statesman.
- The proposed House budget costs $164.5 billion, a 12.3 percent spending reduction as compared to 2010-11.
- It does not raise taxes.
- It is $7.8 billion short of the money that current law says Texas will owe its school districts over the next two years, and it reduces public education funding by 9 percent, or $5 billion, from 2010-11 levels.
- It could cause about 96,000 school employees across Texas to lose their jobs, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
This is a true Texas sized crisis. And as loyal Texans we believe we need a Texas sized solution. While skeptics and non-believers are mocking the patriotic emergency session on voter ID, I’d like to propose the legislature continue to do the right thing for the state of Texas.
Shut down the schools. Shut down every school in Texas for one year. This one bold action will resolve all of our current budget problems and set us up for success in the future.
When considering the benefits of this proposal, it is important to prioritize. So I will address these in order of importance to our state.
High School Football. Don’t worry, we won’t lose our Friday Night Lights in the year-of-sacrifice. It is the one profitable high school sport so it must continue. And as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his book Outliers, the students would be in the same grade and a full year older when they return to sanctioned play a year later. And we won’t lose our best players to “grades” or “honor code violations.” Furthermore the teams will be better than ever after being freed from limited practice requirements. It would be a one year success where we can finally realize the dream of semi-pro football sponsored by local businesses to build up the state’s rainy-day fund.
Fewer Illegal Norwegians. Our state suffers under the burden of illegal immigrants from Norway who are sending their children to school in Texas to get (literally) a free lunch. While I applaud the leadership of Arizona addressing the illegal Norwegians clogging their schools, we must elevate Texas to its rightful role as a beacon of hope for America to follow. If the illegal Norwegians are not in our schools, they can’t steal food from the hard working taxpayer. And given their height, fewer Norwegians reduces the chances that some good-looking 6’8″ blond guy will sit in front of us and block our view of Ebenezer at the Alley Theater.
Fewer poor people. A year off from school will encourage these people who are choosing not to work and leave the burden of their children’s health on the majority of us to get up and get a job. If they can’t get a job for lack of photo ID, this will encourage them to return to their country of origin or at least leave our state to another more willing to tolerate such freeloaders. Someplace like California or something.
Trade Balance. If the Norwegians go home they will likely take high demand goods made in the USA home with them. This suggests to me that as the flow of goods is reversed we should see a huge increase in TxGDP from the export of automatic weapons. And as we have seen in the US, this proliferation will lead to greater safety and security in Norway and their government will thank us. A true win/win.
Teachers in time-out. Teachers are uniquely qualified for unpaid sabbaticals. They get paid to take three months off a year already. And when they are working, teachers complain about being asked to teach kids to pass tests. Why do they want to leave children behind? How hard is it to teach to a test? Just teach Johnny to Scantron for Pete’s sake. Thus we propose all Texas teachers should be fired immediately. Not since Ronald Reagan has the taxpayer been freed from the tyranny of unions with the stroke of a single pen. Perhaps some time off will help the former teachers remember what testing teaching is all about. (Bonus: We can probably hire them back at a lower salary when we start the schools back up.)
No More Teachers’ Union. The teachers union can’t debate collective bargaining if the administration is not present to debate with. And if the teachers are all unemployed they can’t pay union dues which solves the union problem when they go out of business. UNION PROBLEM SOLVED.
National rankings in Education. Sure Texas recently ranked 43rd out of 50 on spending per pupil. Yet by taking a year off they can’t score us at all. We might be number 1 after all. You have no tests and no budget to rank us if the schools are shut down. The yanks can’t prove a thing. And with enough advertising dollars to bring new businesses to Texas we can just keep pounding the point that our kids are the happiest in the country without compulsory education.
Save money on Text Books. By closing the schools for a year our elected school board dentists can finally correct the liberal bias in our children’s text books. Eliminate teaching “evolution” and only teach “creationism.” This is not only the holy thing to do, but “creationism” also requires a lot fewer pages to explain to the students. Holy cost savings!
More ART! Sure the newspaper continues to remind us of Texan Renee Zellweger and her “art education,” yet shutting down the schools is in fact a more bold step in the direction of greater art participation. Children with free time are significantly more likely to express themselves by doodling and decorating abandoned buildings. Thus the free time for our kids will increase their art education. Total art immersion in fact. Culture? Check.
Elimination of latch-key kids. If the children are home all day there is no latch-key problem. Little Kevin is not a latch-key kid, he’s just home alone. Day care solved.
Reduced domestic violence. Domestic violence will surely be reduced by the elimination of parent-student conflict over grades. There are no grades. BI-WINNING!
Texas National Defense. A side benefit of more time for video games is our kids will make a smoother transition into the militia to prepare for our next border war with Canada. Maybe offer scholarships to World of Warcraft (WOW) level 80+ “tank warrior + 3 dps rogues and hunters pref” and “holy paly or divination priest healers.” This proposal moves us past “be prepared” to “LEVEL UP.”
Money. We’ll save like 50 Billion or something. And let’s be honest, we could use the money.
In conclusion, I think the reader will agree that all of us are very pro-education in Texas. This isn’t a move away from educating our children. Rather it is a temporary hiatus designed to balance the budget and move us towards a brighter Texas future. And while critics may say we are kicking the can down the road, it is only for one year and for the good of the great state of Texas. We need to man-up and shut down the schools in Texas for one year. Please join me in contacting your legislator to move this initiative forward.
Dumbstruck, Jason and I handed Mr. Frank Austin his paper back. We talked. We tried to refute his arguments. We tried to explain the difference between Canada and Norway. That “Friday Night Lights” aren’t as much fun without the band. That Texas teachers aren’t evil. That Texas doesn’t have a state militia. Sadly our arguments and our use of “facts” seemed to fall on deaf ears. Mr. Austin was truly convinced that education would survive a one year shut down. That shutting down the schools for one year was the best solution. We gave up and left the building.
Yet as we were leaving the pub I found myself looking back at Frank through the window and thinking that if I truly were at war, I’d definitely want a WOW level 80+ divination priest healer to have my back. Mr. Frank Austin got that part right.
Maybe we really should shut down the schools for a year. Thoughts?
Note: this is a cross-post. Please comment on chron.com post here.