Friday, July 27, 2012

Is Keeping Austin Local Under Siege?

We are blessed to have so many natural resources at our disposal in Texas. Austin has a great campaign for its citizen to be conscious about where their purchases come from. Having a local economy protects us from the waves of uncertainty from Wall Street. Many people are unaware that our local economy and resources are under attack by multi-national corporations.

 In Austin alone, local quarries and building supply companies are being bought out by multi-national corporations such as Old Castle. Customers who want to live by the “keep Austin local” meme give their business to seemingly local companies without realizing the facade is merely an illusion. When the corporation buys out a local company it is rarely publicized in the local paper. They do their best to keep everything as it was by giving employees raises to maintain similar faces and keeping the company name the same. Natural resources that are used in building materials such as gypsum, sand, gravel and rock are the backbone to our economy. When a new building is created there are new jobs added, and more money is flowing into the local economy. In order to keep the profits in our local and state economies we must not let our resources be bought out..

What are the implications of these buyouts? When a small company is bought out by a larger one, the morale of the employees is diminished. Going from being a valuable asset to a company to just a number is a tough pill to swallow. Multi-national corporations are not concerned with the local community where they are gaining profits from. They are more likely to pay lower wages, and layoff families to increase their bottom line. The only ones benefiting from this siege are the families who are given a blank check to sell off their companies that have been fueling Texas communities for decades. Keeping local companies in the hands of Texans is imperative to fight back against Wall Street’s attack on the middle class.  These companies should not be allowed to hide behind their local signs, and Austinites deserve to know where their money is going.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Are State Tests Eating up Valuable Classroom Time?

On July 15, 2012, the Burnt Orange Report published the article Op-Ed: A sensible Approach to Decrease the Hours Our Public Schools Spend on Testing.

In terms of public education, Texans should be ashamed that we are 43rd in the nation for high school graduates. What are we doing wrong? According to State Representative Scot Hochberg our current system for preparing students to take state standardized tests such as the STARR is creating a crack in the system for low achieving students and they are falling through. His House Bill 233 would allow high achieving students to opt out of the state tests in the fourth, sixth, and seventh grades. He proposes that this will allow the spot light to shine on the low achieving students. The progress of the low achieving students make on test scores factor into the rankings for the schools and teacher evaluations.

I agree that teacher evaluations should not be assessed by an average of high achieving students. A successful teacher is one who can help a student reach their full potential. The problem I see in this is how are they going to address the problems of the low achieving students if they are reducing test preparation in the classroom. Many students will be able to opt out of tests, so how will they balance the classroom curriculum? The most important part is missing in the article, and that is how will they deal with the different student populations and use their time wisely?

I agree with the conclusion of this article that merely changing the aesthetics of this program has not aided in the progress of our education system. Einstein stated that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It's clear that 20 years of insanity has not helped our public education's ranking.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Perry Let Down Texas Again

Governor Perry has once again let down the Texans who need him the most. This well written article highlights the lack of judgment Perry has shown, and the burden every Texan has to bear. This was written for one of the largest metropolitan areas in Texas, and is targeting the working poor. Perry’s choice to pass up millions of dollars of federal funding is a double edged sword. While standing up for Texas sovereignty sounds good for campaign rhetoric, ignoring 6 million uninsured Texans is not.

The decision to not create a state exchange reduces the option to have a plan made specifically for Texas. The author notes that while that would have been ideal, lawmakers put too much stock into the law being overturned. Opting out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes funds away from Texans and provides support other states instead. Texas is in the number one spot for the highest population without insurance, and we cannot afford to pass up on tens of billions of dollars.

A further insult to the working poor was inflicted in the form of the Medicaid program being intentionally under funded by 6 billion dollars. This causes a symbiotic relationship between a higher uninsured population and higher premiums for the insured. If the Republicans are unable to overturn the health care law, the governor needs to provide solutions and admit his mistake. I agree with the major points in the article. I find it frustrating that considering we are in crisis with our citizens not having access to health care that our governor would dare turn down funding without providing another solution.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Texas Women's Health Program is Destroyed

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, The Texas Independent published an article titled Rule excluding Planned Parenthood from Medicaid program takes effect today.

Today is a big blow for low income women of childbearing age. The Texas Women’s Health Program has been destroyed by Governor Rick Perry. In an attempt to attack Planned Parenthood because they perform abortions, Perry no longer allowed the clinic to be an option for the Women’s Health Program. This is in violation of federal law, and now Texas has lost 90 percent of its funding for women’s health. The most ridiculous aspect of this attempt to prevent abortions is the fact that the federal and state governments strictly prohibit the funds to be used for abortions!

I find this negligent move by the governor to be a slap in the face for all struggling low income people who want to be responsible but can’t afford it.  The fact that $74 million dollars have already been taken away from family planning funding in Texas, makes me wonder if Perry has any concept of cause and effect! How is it that they want to eradicate abortions, but they are leaving 290,000 women in Texas without access to health care and birth control.  The type of environment a child grows up in can define the rest of their life. Is it right to allow an additional 20,000 unplanned pregnancies a year in this state because of someone’s poor judgment and extremist beliefs?

I’m not for or against abortion because every person’s situation is different. If it is this state’s intention to eliminate abortion, they must make logical decisions and not turn their back on those who need them most. The great state of Texas should not be satisfied with more than half of its newest and most vulnerable citizens being unplanned.