Abbott to Students: You’re Not Invited!

Christina Ayala at the Trib reported today that UT-Dallas students were not invited to Greg Abbott’s press event where he unveiled a lackluster and flawed higher education plan.

UT-Dallas junior Jacob Loehr, a public affairs major, was studying in the Eugene McDermott Library on Tuesday when he saw Abbott and his entourage heading to a small suite in the library.

“Nobody was told that he was going to be on campus,” Loehr said. “Once people noticed he was there, I, along with other students, tried to get in to see the press conference, but we were rejected. They told us it was a private event and we couldn’t get in without an invitation.”

One would figure that he would have hired the Young Conservatives to do an affirmative action bake sale in support of his campaign, right?

Meanwhile, Democrat Wendy Davis has been on a tour of Texas universities this week in which she has openly spoken before student crowds about her higher education plan, as well as other issues, such as Medicaid expansion and a phased-in minimum wage raise to $10.10 per hour (which Abbott does not support and Republicans want abolished).

At UTSA, Davis spoke about Abbott’s work ethic.

“The problem with my opponent, Greg Abbott, isn’t that he doesn’t work hard. It’s that he’s working hard against you.”

Greg Abbott is all about avoiding a political reality–that Republicans have failed Texas and have continually dug a deeper grave for it. It is evident in his record as attorney general and his ads.

About these ads

Leticia Van de Putte Launches Two Ads

Here is Twice, an ad on K-12 Education Cuts which were supported by Dan Patrick.

And here’s Respeto–in Spanish. Even if you don’t understand it, it still lights a fire under you.

Quick translation:  When I speak of the respect we deserve, I speak for my grandmothers who were born in Musquiz and Guadajara; for the service of my family–my mom as a teacher, my father a veteran. I speak as a mother, as a grandmother, as a pharmacist. I speak as a Senator who keeps fighting to protect the future of our children. And I speak as a Democratic candidate because our community never gives up.

 

Wendy Davis Launches Education Ad

Feel free to share.

Abbott Lays Out Lackluster College Plan

The Republican running for Governor, Greg Abbott, released a lackluster college plan today. Instead of providing much needed resources for universities who must help students catch up and become “college-ready,” Abbott proposed to fund our institutions based on outcomes. On top of this, Abbott proposed a plan to expand high-enrollment online college courses for college students.

If one wants to attempt to read the plan, here it is.

Basically, Abbott’s plan holds much-needed resources hostage, while his online college plan only hurts the brick-and-mortar institutions that have put Texas on the higher education map.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will call for students to receive college credit for taking massive open online courses — often referred to as “MOOCs” — as part of the higher education plan he unveils on Tuesday, sources with knowledge of his plans say.

[...]

MOOCs are online courses with unlimited enrollment that anyone — regardless of whether they are enrolled at a university — can sign up for and take for free. Right now, the courses rarely earn students college credit.

What Abbott’s plan does is negatively affect student-faculty relationships as these courses have unlimited enrollment. Perhaps they might work for some survey course in which students just regurgitate information, but the effect a faculty member has on a course in expanding critical thinking through course discussion will certainly be evident. For sure, these unlimited enrollment courses will not work for courses in ones major course of study. And since he is so supportive of outcomes-based funding, the fact is that these high-enrollment college courses have a high-flunk-out rate–students just leave the courses and never complete them.

Above all, and unlike Wendy Davis, Abbott has ignored the fact that 1/2 of community college and 1/3 of university students enter unprepared, thanks to funding cuts and lack of investment in K-12. Abbott should know a little about this as he has supported K-12 funding cuts and recently lost a lawsuit brought by hundreds of Texas school districts regarding school finance. But, I digress. If students are entering our institutions unprepared after learning in brick and mortar K-12 classrooms, how does he expect these students to be successful in online courses?

Greg Abbott isn’t offering anything regarding college affordability and tuition controls or student financial aid. In short, the Greg Abbott plan does nothing to improve graduation and retention rates. What it does do is bring Texas a step closer to privatizing public higher education.

I wouldn’t even credit Greg Abbott with supporting the status quo, as it seems he is more in tune with digging a deeper grave for state institutions of higher education.

Stick with Wendy Davis’ higher education plan. It works for all Texans.

Wendy Davis Hits the Road to Rally Voters

From the Inbox:

FORT WORTH Tomorrow in Houston, Wendy Davis will kick off the fall campaign season with a five city tour across the state to highlight her commitment to fighting for all Texans while Greg Abbott is siding with insiders at the expense of hardworking Texans.

Confirmed locations for this week’s rallies are listed below. Several locations to include campus entertainment. Further logistics such as preset times, satellite truck parking, etc., are forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of Houston Campus Visit (Event Info)

WHEN:           5:00 PM CDT

WHERE:        Conrad Hilton Ballroom, 4800 Calhoun Road,                             Houston, TX 77004

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           Prairie View A&M University Campus Visit

WHEN:           8:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         MSC Ballroom 204 A and B, Willie Tempton Building,                      Prairie View, Texas

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           Texas A&M University

WHEN:           5:00 PM CDT

WHERE:        College Station, Texas

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of Texas – San Antonio

WHEN:           12:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         UTSA Ballroom 1, 1 USTA Circle, San Antonio, Texas

Friday, September 5, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of North Texas Campus Visit

WHEN:           12:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         Plaza and Promenade by the Shraer Pavilion, 1501 W. Chestnut Street, Denton, Texas

Thoughts on Viernes…08292014

Labor Day Weekend

Y’all be safe out there. And bring me a plate!

Gallina Greg Chickens Out

gallinagregGreg Abbott will not debate Wendy Davis blaming the rules to which he agreed to debate. Rules? Really? I’m thinking his internal polls are telling him something and he’s really chickening out. I mean, have you seen his policy pronouncements? He blames Obama for everything and fails to give one iota of an idea on anything. He doesn’t want to tell Texans how he really feels about the issues that matter to Texans because if people really knew how he felt, he’d set them off. And he certainly can’t send his campaign mouthpiece to speak for him–or his madrina. Debate, Gallina!

Update:  The debate is back on? Runnin’ around like a chicken with its head cut off now.

Can’t A Right-Wing Militia Zealot Catch a Break?

A US Border Patrol agent fired his weapon at a militia member, according to the DMN. The agent was trying to detain some migrants and the militia nut got in the way. The nut wasn’t hurt and the migrants continued on their way because the armed nut caused the agent to lose focus of his job.

I don’t know what outcome makes me happier. No…yes, I do.

Remember the Chicano Moratorium! Y Que Viva Ruben Salazar!

 

Learn about it.

 

 

 

 

National Guard Goes Hungry on the Border?

At least that’s what was first reported at Harlingen’s, Action News 4 last night, and has now made national news.

“We were contacted that 50 troops that are in the Valley don’t have any money for food and gas and they need our assistance,” said Food Bank RGV Executive Director Terri Drefke.

They’ve turned to the Food Bank RGV for help since they won’t get paid until September 5th and have been in the Valley since August 11th.

Drefke told Action 4 News they are more than ready and willing to assist the military personnel.

“We have fresh, boxed, and frozen food available” Drefke said.

Let’s face it, Rick Perry and the Republicans put on a show for their right-wing followers with this call-up of the Guard, ratcheting up fear and hate on account of Central American children escaping violence in their home countries. Perry, though, finally did respond.

First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that.

And here I thought a military exercise came with government-provided rations. Hell, at least some Texas IOU’s with Rick Perry’s mugshot, right?

And frankly,  one has to wonder what exactly the millions of dollars that Rick Perry and the Republicans are willing to waste is actually being spent on. That Perry’s attempted boondoggle didn’t include GOP-leaning taco joints to feed the men has left me thinking that he just can’t execute a military plan. That doesn’t look good for a Presidential candidate.

Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrat running for Lt. Gov., had the best response.

The Perry – Patrick deployment of the Guard has been nothing but a political ploy: there is no request from local leaders for this mission, no exit strategy, or even a plan to pay for it. Today, we learn that our men and women of the Guard have been forced to contact food banks to feed themselves because they haven’t been paid in weeks. This is unacceptable.

This whole debacle reminds me of when my family would go on full-day shopping excursions to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. Mom and Dad would pack sandwiches, boiled eggs, tacos, sodas, thermoses of coffee–it was definitely a money-saver. One would think since Rick Perry and the Republicans say we should run government like parents run their family budgets that he would have packed some food for the troops.

UPDATE:  The National Guard Responds

According to spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a “proactive” family assistance coordinator “contacted the Rio Grande Valley food bank to see what resources were potentially available.”

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

So, someone not affiliated with Rick Perry or the Guard was thinking ahead?

Whatever, the Guard shouldn’t be there in the first place!

 

OCT 2 – 4: 35th Annual Festival Chicano – Houston

festchicano

 

It’s that time of year, again! Three days of hanging out with la razita de Houston, la palomia, la gente. Get a little cultura in your life and join about 15,000 of your closest friends each night.

Greg Abbott Loses Again, School Finance System Unconstitutional

After continually under-funding public education, and then cutting $5 billion from K-12 in 2011, the Republican-led Texas Government was sued by a lot of school districts. Today, the Republicans were handed a huge loss by a district judge in Austin. The judge ruled that the way the state of Texas finances education is unconstitutional. The Republicans will likely appeal, since they support cutting K-12 funding.

Specifically, as reported by the Trib:

In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional not only because of inadequate funding and flaws in the way it distributes money to districts, but also because it imposes a de facto state property tax. Certain to be appealed by the state, the lawsuit that arose after lawmakers cut roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011 will now continue to the Texas Supreme Court.

Judge Dietz went on to explain the best reasons to support public education.

“We realize that others provided for us when we were children. We realize that children are without means to secure their education. Just as others provided for us when we were in school, now is the time when we provide for others,” he said, going on to describe the societal benefits of a well-educated population: lower crime rates, fewer people who need public assistance and a greater state income.”

The education commissioner Michael Williams, a Republican, spoke against the ruling, stating that judges shouldn’t be deciding school finance. Well, judges wouldn’t be needed if Republicans weren’t hell-bent on violating a child’s right to an education as specified in the Texas Constitution by cutting funding. So, whether it is Rick Perry appointees or other right-wing elected Republicans mouthing off against the ruling, the bottom line is that they voted to cut public education funding and have been starving K-12 (and higher education for that matter) for decades.

After Dan Patrick, a Houston state senator who is running for Lt. Governor, tried to cover up his vote against restoring some of the K-12 funding in the last legislative session by saying he chaired the committee that voted to restore the funding, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte called Patrick out in a “hypocrisy alert.”

In 2013, Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said, “Patrick was directly responsible for these same education programs not being funded…Such revisionism cannot go unchallenged.” [Texas Tribune, 06/21/13]

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, released the following statement:

“I echo Senator Williams’ sentiments. Dan Patrick was directly responsible for these education cuts, and his revisionism will not go unchallenged. Dan Patrick has shown time and time again that he does not value our neighborhood schools — he showed that when he voted twice against Texas students.

“It is time to accept responsibility and lead. We do not need another court to tell us how to do our jobs. Texans expect a quality education for their children — no excuses, no delays. It is time to put Texas first. As Lieutenant Governor, I will do exactly that.”

And there’s no doubt in my mind that Leticia Van de Putte will take the lead to protect public education and make it a top priority of the Texas legislature.

Elections matter, just like our public schools matter. If you don’t want public schools closing, or if you don’t want your kid in an overcrowded classroom, then you better make it your business to be registered to vote and show up on November 4.

Other Reaction:

Wendy Davis, Democrat for Governor:  “Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D) El Paso:  Our state has not lived up to its constitutional obligation to offer equitable and adequate educational opportunities to all Texans. Today’s court ruling is yet another opportunity to do better, especially with the 84thLegislature right around the corner. The state’s attorneys should end their battle against the Texas constitution — and our students, parents, and teachers — and allow us to move forward on a legislative solution to this issue, which is of such vital importance for the future of Texas.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D) Houston:  “Today is a victory for the school children of Texas. Judge Dietz simply confirmed what we’ve all known for years; that the state refuses time and time again to do what’s right for our children and the future of our state.”

“Today’s ruling reaffirms that Republican leadership has created an unconstitutional system which values some children more than others, yet short-changes them all.”

 

Wendy Davis Outlines Higher Education Plan

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Governor, outlined her proposal to make college affordable.

As Governor, Wendy Davis will work hard for every Texan to have the same higher education opportunities that made such a difference in her own life. She will ensure that Texans are prepared for jobs today and careers tomorrow. Specifically, Wendy will:
  • Create Educational Opportunities for all Texans
    • Create a Career-Technical Coordinating Board to facilitate coordination among local industries, community and technical colleges, and public high schools and streamline the entry of Texas students into 21st century technical jobs.
    • Improve Adult Education and Literacy programs to make it easier for Texans to transition from adult education to the workforce.
  • Make College Affordable
    • Commit to achieving full funding for the TEXAS Grant program to improve education accessibility and affordability for Texas families.
    • Work with the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board to ensure the Texas Tuition Promise fund remains a reliable saving tool for Texas families by improving program outreach and public awareness efforts.
    • Improve accessibility to the B-On-Time low interest loan program, including opening the program to part-time students.
    • Establish a sales tax exemption program for college students’ textbooks to lessen the cost of higher education for hardworking students and families.
  • Improve Graduation and Retention Rates
    • Encourage Texas schools to experiment with programs aimed at assisting first and second year students to navigate the personal and academic challenges they will face as they transition into higher education.
  • Expand the Number of Texas Universities Ranked at Tier One Status
    • Continue to support and encourage Tier One initiatives to ensure Texas creates more world-class research universities.

I must say this is the strongest higher education proposal I’ve seen in a long time. No doubt Texas needs movement on college retention and graduation rates, and the proposed sales tax break to college textbooks and supplies is something student activists have been proposing for quite a while.

“For too long, the insider network in Austin has left our schools underfunded, understaffed and our children undervalued,” said Senator Davis. “Greg Abbott has been in court, defending over $5 billion in cuts to more than 600 Texas school districts and the children who go to those schools. That means overcrowded classrooms, thousands of teachers being laid off, schools being closed down, and our sons and daughters missing out on opportunities that will prepare them for the 21st century.”

I don’t expect the Republicans to offer much of anything on higher education. The Texas economy needs a well-prepared workforce at all levels, so, I’m glad that Davis is elevating these topics. If the Republican response is, “How do we pay for it?,” then obviously, they aren’t all that interested in doing anything bold to improve access to higher education.