Monday, August 21, 2006

We've All Got to Do Better

Reactions to recent local news stories here in Dallas, Texas.

Last Monday our public schools welcomed students back for the beginning of the new academic year.

School leaders anticipated something in the neighborhood of 160,000 students to be in attendance.

The official attendance report for the first day came up 40,000 short of that projection.

What's up?

I'd like to know more.

Maybe administrators were just off the mark. I doubt by that much, though.

Some families have problems with school and getting kids there. Low-income families find school and education to be a particularly difficult challenge for a number of reasons.

Still, we've got to do better, including poor families.

The kids have got to go to school, no excuses.

We complain about the lack of funding for our local schools, and well we should. But every absentee student costs our district and our children a loss in state funding. Monday was a bad day for us all in that regard.

Get the kids to school! Everybody!

Saturday morning we were greeted by a front page story about the impact of the current, near record heat wave on the poor, especially the elderly poor.

Utility bills have soared this year. Many of our neighbors have had their electricity service terminated due to inability to pay. Thousands of air conditioners have been distributed by local health department officials, but that doesn't help those who have no power.

Every year it is the same. People die in the heat--18 so far this year here in Dallas.

We need a plan, an agreed upon, predetermined strategy for the summer.

TXU shouldn't cut off power in poor communities due to inability to pay when it is this hot without first investigating.

City, state and federal leaders, along with some of us from the non-profit sector should be meeting to plan our responses.

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced late last week that all Texas departments of government needed to review their budget plans and priorities to find at least a 10% savings across the board.

Everything from parks to mental health services would be affected.

Does this approach make sense for a state that is ranked dead last or nearly last in every indicator of "quality of life"?

Based on what I observe every day here in Dallas working among very low-income persons, this move is very hard to understand without an application of healthy cynicism.

We've got to do better.


Charles said...

Seems like it would be hard not to do better than Governor Goodhair. Larry, do you think any of the candidates for Governor (or for any of the state offices with actual power) are worthy of an endorsement? As usual, I haven't heard anything about helping people who can't donate to campaigns.

bpb said...

Yes, we have to do better! Not just in Dallas, but all across this nation! We're spending money in the wrong places and for the wrong things. Oops, no republican worth anything would advocate more handout programs! Eeks! Democrats were the ones to believe that this giant problem needed attention.

Larry James said...

Charles, you are correct. While I don't make endorsements here, I must agree with you: no one is focusing on the needs of low-income Texans and no one is out with a strategy of uplift that could benefit everyone in our state.