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By Jolanda Jones
By Jolanda Jones

It’s Now or Never Please Vote AGAINST HISD Proposition 1! They say it’s about purchasing attendance credits. That’s a lie! Don’t be fooled. Proposition 1 is about taking more than $1 billion over four years out of HISD schools and sending the money to Austin. And here’s the catch: There is absolutely no guarantee any of the funds will be used for education.

If you are confused by HISD Proposition 1 on your election ballot, you are not alone. The Republican politicians who wrote the language, more than 20 years ago, required that we put that intentionally misleading language it to be used on the ballot. They knew it was a trick question.

That’s why I’m begging you to vote AGAINST HISD Proposition 1. Be sure to go all the way down your ballot, because for many voters, HISD Proposition 1 is at the bottom.

If Proposition 1 passes, HISD will be forced to make deep deep budget cuts to the classroom, closing neighborhood schools and laying off teachers — more than 1,400 in the first year — resulting in overcrowding and increases to class size. Essential programs that keep kids in school and contribute to healthy learning would be severely cut or eliminated, including tutoring and mentoring programs, mental health resources, college counseling and programs to prevent truancy and dropouts.

If you’re wondering how Proposition 1 got on the ballot in the first place, you’ll need to go back more than two decades to when the State of Texas was sued for not providing equal education funding for Texas children. The legislature agreed to a temporary fix called “recapture,” which came to be known as “Robin Hood.” It was supposed to take from rich school districts and give to poor ones. Most HISD students are poor. More specifically 76.4% of HISD students are on free and reduced lunch. This discriminatory system’s death is long overdue! Please help kill it because it isn’t taking from rich districts and giving to the poor. It’s actually robbing from the hood to be spent wherever the Republican legislature wants to spend it except for Houston!

This year, Houston was forced into the recapture system – but voters have to approve the payments. That’s what this ballot language actually does. The taxpayers will either vote for HISD Trustees to send our HISD tax dollars to Austin to be spent anywhere but HISD or you will vote AGAINST sending our tax dollars to be spent somewhere else. If voters do not approve the payments, the Texas Education Agency can “detach” or reassign property tax revenues from certain HISD properties. That’s why some wealthy commercial property owners want Proposition 1 to pass. Please also note TEA testified at a legislative hearing that they had no clue how to detach property and called Houston “non-compliant” in not just rolling over and giving them our hard earned tax dollars.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, T.E.A. is the same agency that took over North Forest ISD and closed it and forced HISD to annex it and promised HISD money to cover North Forest ISD’s costs and then turned around and reneged on the deal and didn’t give us the money. It’s the same TEA that has taken over Kashmere High School and has threatened to take over other HISD schools mostly in minority neighborhoods. Please note that every school that has been taken over by TEA has been closed. It’s also the same TEA that is funding charter schools and giving them more money than our neighborhood schools and is forcing the closure of our schools.

The bottom line is the Republican legislature and TEA want to destroy public education and put in vouchers. If they have their way we will have no neighborhood schools.

It’s important to note that it’s now or never. If Prop 1 passes, under the current law, we will be in recapture forever! That’s what TEA testified to at that hearing in Austin. Each year the payment will go up. Also, every school district that testified in Austin, who had fallen into recapture said if they had it to do again they would have asked their tax payers to vote AGAINST it. It is destroying their public educational system!

Please join Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Houston Federation of Teachers, many HISD Trustees, including me and other education professionals that know paying our tax dollars to Austin will destroy HISD. We know that refusing to give the state legislature billions of Houston tax dollars will force the legislature to act and finally make changes to this outdated, unfair and dangerous law and to fund us equitably.

Make sure you vote this election and make sure you vote AGAINST HISD Proposition 1. Early voting ends November 4. Election Day is November 8.

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