Rev. Charles F. Johnson: Statement on Speaker Straus’ Interim Charge to Study School Finance

Texas State Speaker Joe Straus has issued interim charges to the House Appropriations and House Public Education committees to study and recommend critical reforms in our school funding system.  We applaud Speaker Straus in making these assignments.

The interim charges come immediately on the heels of the Texas Supreme Court ruling that our school finance system, while meeting a bare standard of constitutionality, is “undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement.”

“Ignoring some of the problems in our current system will only make them worse,” Speaker Straus cautioned.  “School finance reform never comes quickly or easily, which is why this work needs to continue sooner rather than later.”

We are grateful for Speaker Straus’ courage in hitting school finance head-on.  It is immoral for a state as prosperous as ours to parcel out provision for our children’s education with such parsimony.

Our great State of Texas is presently in a grand state of denial.  While it is common knowledge that our neighborhood and community schools are woefully underfunded, some of our leaders continue to deny it. They persist in a weird alternative universe of serial distraction, obsessing on one irrelevant issue after another while ignoring their sworn constitutional mandate to “make suitable provision for free public schools.”

The Biblical prophets long ago had a memorable phrase for this denial:  “They mislead my people saying ‘peace’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6.14, 8.11; Ezekiel 13.10, 13.16)

In a time when demagoguery so often masquerades as leadership, Speaker Joe Straus responsibly brings our attention back to the most pressing moral issue facing Texans today: the provision of God’s gift of quality education to all children.  We pray for him and all our legislative leaders as they formulate public education policy that makes good on the pledge “with justice for all.”