At 5:30 in the evening last Friday, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst released Texas Senate Committee assignments and some bad news to those hoping that the legislature might find a way to fund Texas public schools.
Democrats lost influence in the Education Committee. They held four of nine positions in the committee in the 82nd legislature; they hold three of nine positions in the 83rd session.
Perhaps more significant than the numerical move, is who moved. Democrat, Wendy Davis was taken off and three freshmen Republican Senators jumped on to education. Davis, who has twice previously served on the Senate Education Committee, has had a hand in legislation that would increase the guaranteed amount of state and local funds per student.
Despite the change in makeup of the Education Committee, the Legislature may be forced to give back at least part of the more than 5.4 billion dollars it cut from public school funding last session because of a pending lawsuit that a group of public school districts have brought against the state.
Regardless of how the lawsuit turns out, I hope all members of the Senate Education Committee remember that there is a portion of our state constitution that reads,
“A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”