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May 18, 2011     Hays Free Press
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+ THEY REALLY SAID 'llM'r? "I'm ecstatic. Halfway scared, totally excited and ready to do a good job for tbe city of Buda." -Sarah Mangham, Buda~ new first woman mayor Page 4A Hays Free Press May 18, 2011 + A hmyen the headline ttashed uP on computer screen last week I guffawed, turning around to tell a co-worker what I thought I had just read: "House Says No to Parental Consent for Spanking" And then, to my horror, as I started to read it out loud so that they could laugh too, I realized that I hadn't misread it. My heart sank into that pit in my stomach reserved for the asininity of Texas poli- tics. Seems Alma Allen, D-Houston, a former teacher and principal, originally pressed to get corporal punishment banned in Texas public schools (as it is in 30 more-evolved states in the nation) but then scaled back her efforts when she met with uncompromising resistance. So last Wednesday, Allen introduced legisla- tion that would make it necessary to get a parent's consent before hitting their child. Simple enough. Students can't even get on a school bus without prior written approval. Enter FIB 359. W'lth unimaginable te- merity, in a vote of 69 to 73, this parental consent bill failed. This was not a bill that would forbid people from hitting your child, this was just ensuring that you are okay with it. Here's where the irony comes into play:. Guess which party held 71 out of 73 of those "it's fine with me ff you want to wallop my kid" votes? That's right. These are the same guys who want to deny funding to programs that offer affordable birth control and, when that fails, prenatal care to women who may not have the capacity to ad- equately care for a child. Then they cut early childhood programs that enable these same children to begin school on even footing with children from more attentive households and, consequent~, be less disruptive in class. Oh, and then they plan to cram a boatload of them into one classroom to save some money and, the cherry, they want to cut the teacher's pay in the process. So, when these children react to this environment that they have been thrust into, these law makers' solution is to beat them with a wooden paddle. More irony? Research has shown over and over, that corporal punishment leads to higher dropout rates, which in turn leads to poverty and unplanned pregnancies due to lack of access to affordable birth control, which brings us full circle. Not surprisingly, the top ten states (out of only 20, remember) which use corporal punishment are also the top ten states with the highest teen birth rate in the na- tion (with the exception of Nevada which no longer hits their school children). And the irony continues. At a protest at the state capitol after HB 359 failed, a group of parents, educators and assorted concerned citizens gathered to express their discontent with their representa- fives. While attempting to enter the building with the same wooden paddles used in public schools, to show as ex- amples, they were stopped by security guards who determined that the paddles were weapons, and like guns and knives, must be left outside for the safety of our legislators. Who actually could use a good spanking. Later, in a brief moment of lucidity, HB 359 was reconsidered and modified to allow parents to provide written notice forbidding school personnel from hit- ring their children. Ever. By anyone. The caveat? To get the bill passed, 87 lawmak: ers insisted that kids in counties with less than 50,000 folks could still get hit in school. They didn't say why. AndI thank my lucky stars (and a bit of due diligence when selecting a home formy children) that Hays CISD has, for quite a while, been wise enough to know that hitting never solves anything and it is never okay- for students and faculty alike- to resort to such primal behavior. These educators expect us to use our words and, optimally, I'm sure, our inside voices. And, in a final twist of irony, this jewel from Jordan Riak, a proponent of non- barbaric methods of classroom disci- pline: "Currently, the only people in Tex- as who can legally batter another human being on the buttocks with a weapon as part of their paid professional duties are 1) pore stars, 2) prostitutes and 3) schoolteachers. This grouping may be a bit unfair to members of groups 1 and 2. In those cases, participants in the activity do so as freely consenting adults. Not so in schools." / n the news business, advance obituaries are written even for public figures in the best of health. Because you never know. So, those who gleefully predict- ed Barack Obama's early demise last November can still hold onto their frantic tomes. Because you never know. However, what happened in the Pakistani night a few days ago was not the stuff of "one term and out," if "Mission Accomplished" is something to which voters hold their leaders. And we recall from 2004 that the claim can be effec- tive even if later rescinded. Not that they desired to see American servicemen's lives squandered in a botched raid, as with Jimmy Carter's 1980 Desert One debacle. But, let's face it: The hate-Obama automatons would have danced a robot jig had such a disastrous fate visited our Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, or if an empty-handed mission had em- barrassed the nation in the world's eyes. It didn't. So, wow. In so many dimensions, what a daring call, and what a result. What a reminder of the stakes of governing, as opposed to the stakes of posturing, and throwing spaghetti at the refrigerator door to see what sticks. What buffoonery we now recall. Two weeks ago Donald Trump was actually still getting mileage, and points in Republican polls, with his pathetic birther inquisition. And few could be less deserv- ing of a rostrum on the day after than Sarah Palin. Yet at a "salute the troops" fundraiser, she praised George W. Bush for his role in kill- ing bin Laden and didn't mention the man who made the call that carried it out. Palin will always be able to rouse a crowd. But that audience seems vastly more marginalized. And, heck, it was only a matter of months ago that Glenn Beck was ruling the cable airwaves and tea parties were going to rule the world. Nothing that happened over the last few days in Pakistan assures Obama's re-election. One thinks back to George H.W. Bush after the triumphant return of American service personnel from driving Iraq's forces out of Kuwait. At the time, who could have imagined that Bush would be politically vulnerable? However, the resonance of a military victory faded almost im- mediately. Bush lost to a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas. I distinctly remember an eco- nomic oddity in 1991 as American troops paraded home, a footnote that said more about Bush's po- litical viability than anything else even after the roaring success of Desert Storm. The story: For one moment, the American balance of trade deficit had evaporated. For a moment, the United States had a trade surplus. Why? Because we had es- sentially contracted with the world community to do the dirty work in Kuwait: our services there sold for billions of dollars from countries like Japan, happy to watch from the sidelines. To use a benign anal- ogy, we had provided pest-control service. To use something more blunt, we had become a mercenary nation. We invaded for pay. Bill Clinton didn't campaign against Bush as a military mas- termind. He came talking about retooling an economy that was be- ing routed by Japan. He didn't talk about outer-space missile shields. He talked about technology that could translate into jobs. And, so, how does Barack 0bama avoid the fate of George H.W. Bush, who lost his bid for re- election on the heels of a stunning military achievement? He turns away from military achievements. He convinces Americans that the end is near in Afghanistan, that troops are coming home, that a political process has supplanted a military process. He counters GOP efforts to gut domestic spending by proposing deep cuts in military spending. He contrasts the imperative of confronting needs at home with those world-policing obligations to which Americans have been saddled for decades at a price be- yond imagining. How does Obama become a two-term president? He convinces Americans that we can make more than war. Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SAVE MONEY, CLOSE ACADEMY The district solicited suggestions regarding how it could save money. I sent them a spreadsheet pointing out $6.7 million in annual savings simply by adjusting spending per student to match Elm Grove, an Exemplary School. At Elm Grove, the lowest spending for any school in the county occurs at $4,823. By comparison, the district is spending $6,618/student at Blanco Vista, home of the full immersion Spanish program. Remember when they cut Spanish at Elm Grove for "budgetary reasons"? The district spends a whopping $7,713/student at Camino Real too. And this year, we opened two new 800 student capacity $20 million plus elementary schools while elementary enrollment grew only 267 students. That's another $2 million in unneeded additional annual operating costs compared to absorbing this growth with the existing elementary schools. For example, Buda Elementary has 585 students today. It had 1,051 students in 1986! Let's look at the Academy's statistics over the last 10 years. The district could save $1 million annually by closing the Academy. In year one, benefitting from the academics of Hays High, Academy students achieved 78% passing on all tests in 10th grade. The district spent $4,446/student with 76 students enrolled and the student/teacher ratio was 19.1. By year six, achievement for 10th grade, all tests was 29% but up from 16% in year five. In year nine spending escalated to $11,292 per student, student/teacher ratios declined to 12.3 and enrollment grew to 95 students. In the 10th grade, 44% passed all tests. In 2009-2010, the Academy had a budget of $972,449 for 90 students, or $10,827/student. In 10th grade, the Academy boasted a 28% passing rate on all tests in the 10th grade. Over 10 years, achievement has dropped 50%, enrollment has remained stagnant while the budget/ student increased 188%, excluding the $2.3 million spent to renovate a former 675 student middle school. In seven of ten years, passing rates were 29% or less. These metrics clearly indicate it is time to close the Academy. Why fail with 90 students while not having funds for thousands more because of it? Bryce Bales Manchaca DON'T ALLOW BULLYING My name is Julie and I am the PROUD mother of 6 wonderful kids, which five of them are in the Hays School District. Lately, we have been reading, watching and hearing a LOT about bullying. I have a child who attends a Middle school in this district, who is constantly being harassed. I have gone to the school four times and spoken with the V.R as well as the Principle over the phone due to the text msgs and letters with hurtful content. I have called the District headquarters, left msgs, which never get returned. When my child finally sticks up for herself, using her words, she is the one who gets punished. When I spoke to the Principle at the Middle school, this person stated "I should think about getting counseling for my child to deal with the bullying, as there is nothing that they can do for the verbal and/or emotional bullying: They need "concrete evidence" (which they have; letters) and yet still, nothing. When is the district going to realize that bullying is MORE than physical confrontation! It is a sad day when a parent sends their child to school, only to have them emotionally abused! Come on Hays CISD, let's make bullying not just about being physical. So, my question is this "what are we going to do about the kids who are being verbally/emotionally abused in OUR school district? Julie Richards-Harris Buda COh ENTS FROM THE WEBSITE I hope rules will be enforced in the skate park such as wearing a helmet and otherprotective gear aspeciaily afterthe 16 year old boy just passed away last week from a head injury. I think the park is a great idea but please have safety rules. -Geta Ufeon =Buda~ Skate Park" at HaysFreePreN.com South Texas is a/and of drought- too many people don't raaiize that. I'd rather be able to turn on the faucet and know the water is available for dfinldng, rather than get in that cycle of "water & mow". I can~ live on lawn grass or imported flowers so I don't waste time, energy and money on them. - Connie on =Alarm Stage: Dmught /Uect" at HaysFreePress.com One, 729 voters out of thou- sands registered ? No matter what direction Kyle goes if your not involved enough to take 10 minutes to vote you have no fight to complain. - C on "Johnson, Wilson, Sqdberta returned to Kyle City Council" at HaysFreePress.oom MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. 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