NOW Hear this. . .Texas Legislators,

6 Apr

“The easiest way to give up your power is to believe you don’t have any.”

I reflected on these words as news of the House’s skeletal budget grazed my ears Monday morning.

Let me state that drafting this letter seems to go against the very nature of reporting. Reporting’s whole premise is based on the quest for neutrality and relies on the simple capture and restatement of the words and actions of others to create meaning.

But I could no longer stand by and let the fate of my state and its people crawl forward without my input.

 For weeks, I have covered the budget cuts of Dallas school districts for The Dallas Examiner and watched from the sidelines as the battle wounds of teachers and students alike emerge as their trustees tweak policies, enlarge classes and cut into the bone of an educational structure that is already ailing.

For weeks, I attended meetings ranging from three to six hours in length looking and listening as parents, teachers and students stood before the trustees and standing room audiences to offer countless pleas and suggestions.

My recorder has captured the tears, frustrations and outright disillusionment of so many.

It holds the plea of Armando Ramirez, a junior at Seagoville High School who observed, “If our government can afford to bomb and destroy Afghanistan and Iraq, if there’s plenty of money to help Japan in its time of need, if there’s money for tax cuts for Jerry Jones and the SuperBowl. . .please don’t let me down.”

It holds the fire of Jillian Jones, a junior at Booker T. Washington School of the Arts who after reciting a slew of familiar quotes about the importance of education demanded that decision makers, “Put the money where you mouth is,” and make education a priority.

It holds the wisdom of Booker T. student body president, Madeline Rossick who quoted Artistotle in stating, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet,” as she asked decision makers to “peer into the future” and see the sweet fruit that awaits if seeds of education are properly watered.

It holds the musings of Alex Upshaw from Townview School of the Talented and Gifted who reasoned, “. . .I shall state the phrase, ‘Our children are our future.’ I believe this phrase to be true for if our city’s children cannot attain jobs, then when they grow up, they will be unemployed or employed at jobs that pay poorly, and therefore our city may become impoverished, which is generally considered a negative effect.”

It holds the passion of Yesenia Solis, a sophomore at the Townview School of Business and Management who felt that lending her voice to this fight was so important,  her father picked her up early from school so she could speak rally in support of using the Rainy Day Fund and cutting tax incentives to corporations to fund education.

She had these words to say about Governor Rick Perry: “Well, I’m praying that he will pay and that he’ll realize the mistake he’s making by the money that he’s been generous to other corporations and not taxing them the full price. So, I feel that he should have taxed them and that money. . . instead of giving them discounts: That’s money we could have used for education. I feel that it’s his mistake. . .he’s our governor, he’s representing us. . .Why is he touching education the most?”

At the late afternoon rally, tiny children toted posters nearly twice their size with the words, “It’s raining, it’s pouring, Governor Perry is snoring,” scribbled across. Senior citizens, some aided by walkers and canes, withstood the blazing rays of the sun to lend their presence to the battle while passerbys proudly blared their horns in obedience to the “Honk to Save Our Schools” signs rally attendees displayed on the streets.

All fingers point to Austin for remedy.

I, too, look to my state’s capitol.

Who is representing Armando, Jillian and Alex and the millions of others like them? Who is representing Yesenia and ensuring her voice is heard and her prayers are answered? Who is upholding their access to the American dream, a dream that promises if you work hard and believe in yourself anything is possible?

 I am a product of Texas’ public schools. My parents are Dallas ISD educators who reared me from an early age to believe that education a little poor black girl’s only hope to creating her own fairy tale. I knew that my parents could not afford to fund my pursuit of higher education, so I decided from a very early age to work hard and get a full scholarship to college. I was blessed with a full-tuition scholarship and additional scholarships to attend Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, one of the best business undergraduate schools in the world. At Babson, I took classes with top professors, studied abroad in Russia, China, the U.K. And France, learned the power of entrepreneurship  and advocacy and the importance of lending the world my voice.

 That’s why I returned to Dallas–to help others like myself, lacking in money but overflowing in dreams, talent and determination, reach  their goals and realize their destinies as I continue to chase my own.

If the easiest way to give up your power is to believe you don’t have any, then the easiest way for Texas to surrender its economic might is to slay its public education system—for that is the foundation of a sustainable and thriving economic future.

Sincerely,

LaShonda Cooks


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2 Responses to “NOW Hear this. . .Texas Legislators,”

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  1. The Lone Response « Shonda's Marketing Mania - April 26, 2011

    […] emailed the letter linked here to five people, the state governor, the infamous Rick Perry, his lieutenant governor, David […]

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