Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Low Blow From the State to Schools

We're all used to politicians using the law as a pinata to get what they want, but I'm very disgusted at what I've recently read and I want to share this with you. I will TRY not to be overly bias, I will TRY to give you all the facts I can, but there is a limit to what I can take when it comes to dehumanizing others.

My story starts here:

As I read it, I shook my head in shame that Texas is still so hell bent on treating Homosexuals like second class citizens, but that is an argument for another day. What caught my eye was the second to the last paragraph. To give you, the reader, context of what is going on, several state owned facilities, namely a Ft. Worth area school district, decided to give same sex domestic partnerships benefits to the significant other by extending health benefits to any and all domestic partnerships so long as they pay the extra fee. The state government heard about this and decided to stick its nose into the situation. State house and senate members were scrambling to try and pressure the district into stopping it. Sen. Dan Patrick, whom unfortunately represents me, went so far as to question whether the school district's new policy of granting benefits to domestic partnerships, for couples that pay the extra fee, was violating Texas law.

While this was going on, the Texas house introduced HB1568.

The summary of the bill is as such: IF a district is allowing anyone but married couples or their dependents receive benefits, then the state can reduce their funding by 7.5%. ON TOP OF THAT, there is a small bit of legislation that allows small, underfunded districts, to get financial help form other districts. To get help, they have to cover a certain percentage of their operating cost, then the out of district help will cover the rest (this is a severe paraphrasing). The second part of HB1568 states that the state can also raise that operating cost percentage by 7.5%

The result? A district's funding will be cut by 7.5% and the amount to be covered increased 7.5% essentially locking that district out of receiving funding from anyone but the district's tax payers.

Why is this a problem? Moral and financial reasons.

Financial: if a district has to cover at least 60% of their own costs to get help, then this bill will reduce their ability to cover it down to 56.5% while raising the bar to get it up to 67.5%, a difference of 11%. Using small numbers for the ease of understanding, if a district takes in $1,000,000/year form all sources (local, state, other districts), then this is what has to happen to get the money from other districts: of the $1,000,000 operating cost, the school district has to cover $600,000. $400,000 from the taxpayers and 200,000 from the state. Now, the decrease in funding has lowered the state income to $185,000 totaling $585,000. The bar for covering their own costs was also increased by 7.5% so now THAT level is $675,000. That district is just $90,000 short of  qualifying for the other district help money. So now, what was only a decrease in funding of $15,000 has become a decrease in $215,000.

So, they have just punished a school district for being poor just because now, a domestic partner can now have health insurance.

Just so it's clear, multiply those dollar amounts by 100 and you'll get a fairly accurate cost for running a school district. Yeah, that $215,000 is now $215,000,000. That's the cost of operating 1-2 schools. The end result is the only way those districts could get that funding back is to close whole schools. The already over crowded classes will get 1-3* more schools worth of kids added to the rooms.

*1-3 was chosen because different schools have different operating costs depending on the levels they teach.

Moral: All of that said, the state is punishing the teachers, students, and parents because a HANDFULL of people are paying extra money into a health plan so their partners can be taken care of. Entire schools will shut down, education will be severely affected, all because the state doesn't like homosexuals. The frosting on this little cake is that not all domestic partnerships are homosexual ones, there's plenty of people who have domestic partnerships who are straight. Atheists would be among those numbers, so would Wiccans, and a host of other religious/spiritual groups that don't do marriages in the christian "traditional" sense. So the Wiccan couple that have been together for 15 years would no longer have health benefits because they live in a partnership and not a christian marriage. How's that for equality?

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal...except the gays...and the wiccans and the atheists...and women. Just Christians, they're equal...except Jehova's Whitnesses and Mormons, they're crazy."
--The Declaration of Independence

Final thoughts:
I can understand if someone's faith or life experiences make them uncomfortable around things they're not used to seeing, like homosexuals, but for the majority to create laws that oppress the minority by using the people and their children as a weapon is strictly against the founding fathers' wishes and appalling at that. I wrote a letter to the school district and started this whole chain of events, encouraging them to fight the state on this matter. I encourage you to do the same.

Pflugerville ISD
Charles Dupre, Superintendent:  


Until next time!

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