Okay, I agree that ending a question with a preposition may not be grammatically correct but that’s not the issue here. I have read (and reread) the press release issued by Sen. Bettencourt challenging the Texas Educators Vote initiative and I get more miffed about the false accusations and innuendos each time I read it. I can only hope that educators across the state feel the same angst when reviewing his comments. Here are a couple of specific concerns.
In his release, he states, “The underlying public policy issue here is whether taxpayer monies should be spent on issue or candidate specific electioneering that pushes one particular outcome over another”. This clearly is a tactic to intimidate voters and to deny them the opportunity (maybe better stated, the right) to know what the issues are and how they impact each voter. Since when do we deny voters the right to learn more about the issues and to discourage them from supporting candidates of their choice? Isn’t an informed and engaged public key to the success of our democracy?
He continues, “… the Texas Constitution is clear on this point”. This sure looks like referencing the Constitution only when it benefits his position directly. I wonder if the Senator even knows the section of the Constitution, Article 7, Section 1, that states, “… it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools”. And what has he done to ensure that this obligation is fulfilled?
And how about, “There is no fact … that it is legal to coerce public employees to sign an ‘oath’ to a particular political viewpoint …”. When I read the oath that is encouraged by the Texas Educators Vote initiative, I see two main elements, one being a commitment to vote in the upcoming primary and general elections, a second to “vote in support of the more than 5.4 million Texas school children”. I don’t see anything that even looks like coercion in this.
What it does do, however, is encourage individuals to register to vote and to become informed voters, then cast their ballot on election day. There clearly is no effort to endorse or support specific candidates. But by becoming more educated about the issues, individuals are more motivated to vote (for the candidate of their choice!) and are better able to model the civic right we have to vote.
Virtually all of his release is a “stretch”, a stretch to discourage efforts by districts to engage educators in the voting process. We teach civics and the importance of engagement in our schools at virtually every level so why should we now try to discourage efforts to engage and “get out the vote”? There is a genuine concern on the part of many that efforts such as Texas Educators Vote are having an impact and that engagement by educators will bring the issues to light. I guess that’s what they are afraid of, namely the efforts to make public education a priority.
Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas!