Texas has their share of students in poverty, so why did the Katy Independent School District spend $72.1 million on a new football stadium?
Remember a few months ago when we learned how the state had shut students with special needs out of services due to an unlawful cap? State officials did not seem to want to pay for students with disabilities. Texas had the lowest percentage compared to other states of students with special needs getting services.
Back in 2014, teacher Katie Plemmons wrote compassionately about the struggles teachers face in Texas. The article is titled “The Heartbreak of Being a Teacher in Texas,” published by The Texas Tribune.
It truly is a heartbreaking read.
Here’s some of what teachers faced then in Big Sky country. Many teachers throughout the USA will identify.
- They spent big chunks of their paycheck on class materials.
- They provided kids with lots of free extra help.
- They attended after school events.
- They faced huge class size numbers struggling to learn about their students.
- They got lousy health care plans that put their own families at risk.
- They were “shackled” to high-stakes testing.
Has it gotten better?
Now public schools, like Florida and other states, are graded A-F. It is no surprise that schools with poor students usually get lower grades. Rev. Charles Johnson, executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, says, The truth of the matter is that A-F shames and blames poor children, it shames and blames the professionals that love those children, and it needs to be repealed. Johnson advocates for free, high-quality public education, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
So how do Texas parents from the Katy Independent School District get to spend their tax dollars on a $72.1 million Legacy Stadium for football? It includes a $2 million replay board.
Don’t get me wrong. I like sports. I marched in my high school band and never missed a Friday night football game. While many justifiably worry about football injuries, school teams and school spirit can bind a school and its community together. Sports can help plenty of students get into college. I get the allure. But is it $72.1 million worth when schools are struggling on the basics?
The Katy Independent School District also has some poor students. How are they being served?
Think too about the charter school industry in Texas. Are we looking at a future transformation of some schools into private schools, with charters for the poor?
Spending that much money on a football stadium when the state is failing to address the needs of its teachers and kids with disabilities raises more questions than there are answers.