Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Superintendent John Kuhn's speech at "Save Texas Schools" Rally

From Texas ISD - Click Here

John Kuhn's Rally Speech
By John Kuhn - Supt
Feb 27, 2013, 08:39

Are there any teachers in this crowd?

I want to say something to teachers that our lawmakers should have said long ago: Thank You! Thank you for keeping our children safe. Thank you for drying their tears when they scrape their knees, for cheering on our junior high basketball players, for going up to your room on Sundays to get ready to teach my kids on Monday. Gracias por cuidarlos! As a dad, I thank you.

Coaches, thank you for fixing little girls' softball swings and for showing our boys how to tie their ties. Thank you for getting our children safely home on the yellow dog after late ballgames, marching contests, and one-act plays.

Thank you for buying all those raffle tickets, hams, pies, discount cards, Girl Scout cookies, insulated mugs and pumpkin rolls, for buying more playoff shirts than any one person could possibly need and on top of all that spending your own money on pencils and prizes and supplies for your classroom.

There are those poor deluded souls who say you take more than you give, and I disagree with them with everything I am. Don’t let them get you down. They wouldn’t last a day in your classroom. You are NOT a drain on this economy; you are a bubbling spring of tomorrow’s prosperity. You’re a fountain of opportunity for other people’s children. As educational attainment goes up, crime, teen pregnancy, unemployment, and prison rates all go down. Squalor and ignorance retreat. Social wounds begin to heal. Our state progresses; our tomorrow brightens. What you do, teacher, is priceless. You don’t create jobs. You create job creators.

Some people don't understand why you do what you do. They think merit pay will make you work harder, as if you're holding back. They don’t understand what motivates you. They think the threat of being labeled "unacceptable" will inspire you to care about the quality of your instruction, as if the knowledge that you hold the future in your hands on a daily basis is not incentive enough.

Maybe these sticks and carrots work for bad teachers, but they only demoralize the great ones, and there are thousands and thousands and thousands of great teachers in our public school classrooms today.

Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they’ve forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden.

You stand on the front lines of poverty and plenty, on the front lines of our social stratification. You are the people who shove their fingers into gushing wounds of inequality that our leaders won’t even talk about, and you aren’t afraid. You’re the last of the Good Samaritans, and you aren’t afraid, even as they condemn you for trying but failing to save every last kid in your classroom. You aren’t afraid, and you keep trying, and you haven’t faltered. You deserve to be saluted, not despised. You deserve to be acclaimed. You deserve so much more than the ugly scapegoating that privatizers peddle in the media and our halls of government.

Teacher, bus driver, coach, lunch lady, custodian, maintenance man, business manager, aide, secretary, principal, and, yes, even you superintendents out there trying to hold it all together—you serve your state with skill and honor and dignity, and I’m sorry that no one in power has the guts to say that these days. History will recognize that the epithets they applied to your schools said more about leaders who refused to confront child poverty than the teachers who tried valiantly to overcome it. History will recognize that teachers in these bleak years stood in desperate need of public policy help that never came. Advocacy for hurting children was ripped from our lips with a shush of “no excuses." These hateful labels should be hung around the necks of those who have allowed inequitable school funding to persist for decades, those who refuse to tend to the basic needs of our poorest children so that they may come to school ready to learn.

They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 million kids waiting for this Legislature to keep our forefathers’ promises. There are 5 million children, and three of them live with me, and they’re all waiting for somebody in Austin, Texas, to stand up for them and uphold the constitution. There’s a waiting list of 5 million kids and this government says they can just keep waiting. How long must they wait?

If you support public schools I want to tell you about a new website. Go to and add your child's name to the public school waiting list, the list of kids waiting for this government to provide adequate school funding. That's

Our forefathers’ promises must be kept. We want fair and adequate resources in our kids' schools. We want leaders who don't have to be dragged to court to do right by our children.

It’s not okay to default on constitutional promises. It’s not okay to neglect schools until they break, to deliberately undermine our public school. These traditional institutions have honorably served their communities for generations. It’s not okay to privatize a public school system that strong and generous people built and left to us; it's not okay for Austin to confiscate buildings built by local taxpayers and give them away to cronies and speculators.

These buildings aren't just schools, they're touchstones. They're testaments to our local values. The Friday night lights that have illuminated our skies for decades, the school gyms that have echoed with play since the Greatest Generation was young—these aren’t monuments to sports. They’re monuments to community. They’re beacons of our local control, of the togetherness we cherish in our hometowns and city neighborhoods. We don’t want education fads imposed on us by Austin or, even worse, out-of-state billionaires.

What we want is simple, tried, and true. We want what this state promised in 1876. And to those who want to take away that promise, I know some moms and trustees and local businesspeople who will say what brave Texans have said before: “Come and take it.”

Two years ago I asked state leaders to come to our aid; they responded by cutting school funding by billions. But help did come: it came from you. The people of Texas are the cavalry that will save Texas schools. Two years ago may have been the Alamo; but this year may well be our San Jacinto.

I will end by saying this to the advocates who are bravely defending public education: thank you. And one more thing: do not go gently into that good night. Stand and fight, and save our schools.

Thank you.

© Copyright 2009 by

Tyrant’s Foe: John Kuhn, Standing Tall For Test Reform-Texas Observer-February 7, 2013

 Superintendent John Kuhn

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Save Texas Schools Rally held in Austin, Texas

The 'Save Texas Schools" Rally was held on the steps of the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Saturday, February 23, 2013. It was a good day, and supporters of Texas public education gathered again to call for legislative support of public schools.

Former Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the "Save Texas Schools" Rally

Robert Scott said, “I had to turn in my reformer card because I looked at it as a flea circus. They are selling two ideas and two ideas only: No. 1, your schools are failing, and No. 2, if you give us billions of dollars, we can convince you [of] the first thing we just told you.”

Former Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott

Diane Ravitch  speaks at the "Save Texas Schools" Rally

Diane Ravitch said, “The testing vampire started here,” meaning NCLB. “Kill it.” ... "You have heard that our public schools are failing. It is not true."

Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes III of Dallas speaks at "Save Texas Schools" Rally - "Education Not Incarceration."

Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes III of Dallas
Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes III, Senior Pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas

Citizens gathered to "Save Texas Schools."


State Senator Kirk Watson
“When our kids make a mistake, we expect them to fix it. When our kids have an assignment to do, we don’t let them procrastinate. When our kids have a test, we expect them to show up and do well. It’s time to demand as much from this legislature as we demand from a child.”

Parents, Teachers, Students Rally for More School Funding and Less Testing-Texas Observer-February 24, 2013

At Capital Educsation Rally, tough words for legislature-Texas Tribune-February 23, 2013-Click Here

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Austin State Judge John Dietz rules Texas School finance system unconstitutional - finding "there is no free lunch"

"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." -Thomas Jefferson

"The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite." -Ecclesiastes 2:16
It is a good thing that a Texas state Judge has now ruled again that the Texas school finance system adopted by the state legislaturae violates the state constitution by not providing a fair public education to all children.  

Of course, the case is not over because the State of Texas will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. 
Since 1984, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that the state’s school finance plan is inadequate, inefficient, and unconstitutional. The outcome of the current lawsuit will likely be no different. Why is this the most intractable problem in state government? Class Warfare by Paul Burka - March 2012 - Texas Monthly Click Here
 Who should be blamed for this mess? Ourselves, Burka opined:
 We elected the people who designed the system—the members of the Texas Legislature over the past quarter century. And we stand by while they fail to fix the problem. The constitution and the case law speak clearly about what is required, but in session after session, our lawmakers dig in their heels and refuse to respond. 
Inadequate and Inequitable” Once again a judge rules that the state’s school finance system in unconstitutional. by Sonia Smith Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - Texas Monthly Click Here
In Texas and all over America public education is being undermined by the perverse actions of powerful people and the foolish creation of false standards. Both fuel the myth that American public schools are such a failure that any old so-called reform will do. This helps to  advance the real objective of privatizing public education for the economic benefit of private profiteers. 

This has been going on for decades but never before has the sell-out of public education been so blatant.

What plutocrat or politician or false educator believes that American public schools will reach the unrealistic goals of the test and punish No Child Left Behind Act by the Year 2014?

Duncan: 'No Child Left Behind' creates failure for U.S. schools - Click Here

"Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday his department estimates that four out of five schools in the United States will not make their "No Child Left Behind" benchmarks by the the law's target year of 2014 ... He blamed that failure rate on the law itself, not on schools."
Whatever public education is becoming, it won't be controlled by the public, and it won't be for the benefit of children. 

Poor children will remain left behind. The money and resources will be transferred into the pockets of adults pushing the latest test and punish accountability fads and into non-union charter schools that increase racial re-segregation and reduce teacher income and experience, while using public funds - but are being governed by unelected and undemocratic private organizations.

It is a shame. 


"The system Texas uses to fund public schools violates the state's constitution by not providing enough money to school districts and failing to distribute the money in a fair way, a judge ruled Monday in a landmark decision that could force the Legislature to overhaul the way it pays for education." Associated Press

 —Eric Gay/Associated Press

"Attorney Rick Gray, center, who represented more than 400 districts located mostly in poorer areas of the state of Texas, reacts as he is congratulated following a ruling on Monday in Austin, Texas, contending that the Texas school finance system violated the state constitution.By Will Weissert - Associated Press
Click Here - Education Week

From NPR-Click Here
"The former lieutenant governor (Bill Ratliff) said it best: Essentially, school districts are being asked to make bricks without straw," said Trachtenberg, whose coalition includes mostly richer districts. "Schools need money for smaller class sizes, particularly in the earlier grades.

"They need money for remediation in the form of tutoring or after-school programs. They need money to retain and hire quality teachers. They need money to have full day pre-K programming. These things all cost money."
State Judge John Dietz rules Texas School finance system unconstitutional - Video

(Austin, TX)//Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement on Judge John Dietz's decision in the Texas school finance system lawsuit:

"Judge Dietz's decision affirms what most of us already know: the state of Texas continues to shamelessly shortchange our children's schools.  The sad truth is that for years the state has relied on stopgap measures and focused more on tax relief than strong schools.  Hopefully this latest in a long line of decisions will force the legislature to truly and systemically address the inequities in our school finance system to ensure that every child in every school -- regardless of wealth -- has access to a top-notch education.

"The ruling also reinforces the simple fact that investment matters.  Hopefully that spurs the legislature to take action and reverse course on last session's disastrous $5 billion cuts to our kids' schools.  We need to reinstate that funding as a down-payment on a new Texas promise to our schools, and then embark on the difficult task of enacting a comprehensive school finance reform that finally ensures real investment and real improvement in education."