Politics 101 opens classes

Published Brownsville Herald March 14, 2011

Last weekend exploded into some real community politics that I thought was being washed from our community by changes at the polls. However, it seems that the “the government has to do it for me” attitude still prevails in our community and there are those that want to become the “middle men” in the process to advance heir own interests in spite of what the electorate wants.
One instance erupted at a meeting held at Senator Eddie Lucio Jr.’s office, at the unreasonable time of 8:30 a.m. last Sunday! It was billed as a factfinding meeting, to consider the concerns of those Texas Southmost College trustees who had voted against a revamped partnership between the UT System and the community college.
Some observers perceived that Sen. Lucio, Rep. Eddie Lucio III and State Rep. Rene Oliveira had summoned TSC trustees Trey Mendez, Adela Garza and Chairman Kiko Rendon for some oldfashioned arm-twisting.
It was perceived that the state leaders wanted the trustees to accept a suggestion by the Garcia administration that they put the issue up for a public referendum, which was promptly refused.
The TSC majority asserted that it would set a bad precedent that would see any local decision questioned by legislators and have their decision-making responsibilities second-guessed every time some faction did not like the way they voted. Rene Torres, a member of the majority, did not attend, thereby avoiding a quorum.
One of the more important functions the university-community college should have been working toward is to economically supplement the preparation for university programs in areas where secondary schools have not excelled. Unfortunately political gamesmanship seems to be the priority.
In another arena, Frances Barrera submitted the following to The Herald on March 7:
“I think a lot of people voted against the old BISD board members for the high-handed, irresponsible way they went about disposing of a perfectly good superintendent in Hector Gonzalez. This new group, which got in by default, apparently has not learned from history. … Mr. (Brett) Springston is another perfectly good superintendent who has fulfilled, even exceeded, his duties to this district. To dispose of him would be not only fiscally irresponsible but a huge discredit to our kids, whom you claim to ‘be all about.’”
Perhaps the electorate is finally “mad as hell” and isn’t going to take it any more!
It appears that political education begins with local school boards and we rarely hear about the classes. At 8:30 a.m. last Sunday we definitely got a look at “Introduction to Politics 101,” with professors Lucio Jr., Lucio III and Oliveira conducting the class.
Can we expect different results with the above as the norm?
This is probably among the most dangerous examples of what can happen when local leaders have had the authority over such a supremely important public function as education. Costs skyrocket, and resources we contribute to benefit our children can be misused to advance political schemes, individual desires or careers.
We must watch carefully over the educational resources that we work so hard to educate our children. Our community is by no means wealthy, and each dollar of education taxes must be used for the best purpose.
What cost to our own needs is being paid when these hard-earned dollars go elsewhere?
In this weak economy, just consider the amounts that are sucked up into a federal education hole just so the chosen few can mandate how we must think. That surely is the sole province of “We the people,” not the rulers on high.
We are already dangerously close to being ruled by the imperial government; it even dictates what is to be taught in schools by the various government subsidies that come with conditions attached, and a state and local bureaucracy that wants to prevent us parents from knowing the details of education and who benefits from the various programs, the food programs, the different educational disability programs and even the tax collections. The continuing problems between the school superintendent and each new school board demonstrates more about who got more than the other guy because of connections. Why is this happening? It is because if some politico says you have to “do this” in spite of what your morals, upbringing and common sense tells you; you simply go along. This compliance is breaking our backs with only a pittance of the value coming back to us. Things are by no means better — and the only answer is a much smaller government with fewer hands in the pie!