Archives for posts with tag: Texas

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Texas currently ranks fourth in the US in number of multi-millionaire residents, yet 24 per cent of Texan children live in poverty. In Dallas, home to some of the state’s most affluent families, it is estimated that 80 per cent of children in the Dallas Independent School District live in poverty.

We aren’t creating opportunities for these children when economic policy in the state creates jobs that are low-wage, part-time and devoid of benefits. These children will grow up reliant on government programmes because they don’t make enough money to meet their basic needs. The jobs that provide that are already disappearing.

Imagine what the Texas job market will look like when these children are adults. If we keep following Perry’s economic model and investing in companies that really don’t need government support, Texas will have plenty of jobs. The only problem is that none of them will be any good.

I have spent the last 10 years working with low-wage workers in Texas, most of who labour in the construction industry. These blue-collar jobs used to be thought of as good jobs; they would allow you to earn a decent wage, plan for retirement and support your family.

“Workers in many Latin American countries are guaranteed paid sick and vacation days, and maternity leave… In Texas, rest breaks are considered a benefit, not a right.”
But today, nearly half of full-time construction workers in the state’s capital live below the poverty line. More construction workers are killed on the job in Texas than in any other state. In the Lone Star State, a construction worker is killed on the job every 2.5 days.

Deregulation, a major component of Governor Perry’s economic vision for the Lone Star State, has made life easy on business but hard on families. Texas is the only state in the country that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation coverage to help those who are injured on the job.

Leaving taxpayers stuck to pick up the tab for employers who don’t have insurance and aren’t willing to pay for expensive hospital bills, and of course neither are the workers that most frequently make $10/hr.

Perry’s policies direct investment away from small businesses, which are the true engines of economic growth. This year Apple, Inc received a $21m incentive package from the Texas Enterprise Fund to build a million square feet campus in Austin. Large businesses do create jobs.

Nearly 60 years after the 1954 landmark ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared public education is “a right which must be made available on equal terms,” racial inequities in school spending persist. Let’s look at some of the national numbers:

Across the country schools spent $334 more on every white student than on every nonwhite student
Mostly white schools (90 percent or more white) spent $733 more per student than mostly nonwhite schools (90 percent or more nonwhite)
The United States spends $293 less per year on students in mostly nonwhite schools than on students in all other schools. That’s 7 percent of the median per-pupil spending
Since fully 35 percent of the nation’s students of color attend school in either California or Texas, examining the relationship between the percent of students of color and dollars spent per student can bring the problem into sharper focus.

In California schools serving 90 percent or more nonwhite students, per-pupil spending is $191 less than at all other schools, and $4,380 less than at schools serving 90 percent or more white students
In Texas schools serving 90 percent or more nonwhite students, per-pupil spending is $514 less than at all other schools, and $911 less than at schools serving 90 percent or more white students
Just how big are these differences? In California the average high-minority school has 759 students. If an average-sized school got an extra $4,380 for every student, it would mean an extra $3.3 million a year. If that same school were to get a more modest boost of $191 per student to bring it in line with the majority of schools in the state, then it would get approximately $145,000 extra per year. Those extra dollars would pay the salaries of additional classroom teachers or buy any number of valuable educational inputs such as computers, guidance counselors, or teaching coaches.

In Texas the average high-minority school is 708 students; new teachers are paid $39,150 and veterans earn $47,100 annually. If an average high-minority school in the Lone Star state were to receive an extra $514 per-pupil funding—enough to bring it up to the level of spending the rest of the schools in the state enjoy—it would be able to pay the salaries of seven veteran teachers or nine new teachers.

One of the more sobering findings of our report is that as the number of students of color goes up at a school the amount of money spent on students goes down.

An increase of 10 percent in students of color is associated with a decrease in spending of $75 per student

Book reviews

That the United States may soon have to ration health care resources, including mental health services, will almost certainly require its people and governments to take into account the needs of adult prisoners, civilly committed mental hospital patients, and a growing number of juvenile offenders committed to the care of the states. The questions of whether public resources are being used effectively in behalf of juvenile justice, and whether they can be used more efficiently, are of crucial importance at this time. Who Gets a Childhood? by historian William S. Bush illuminates the historic mistreatment and outrageous abuses of poor African American, Latino, and white youth in the training schools of twentieth-century Texas. Equally important, the book makes an argument in behalf of a constitutional “right to treatment” that would provide mental health rehabilitation services for juveniles committed to state custody. Bush thus makes a distinctive contribution to the history of racial discrimination and juvenile injustice in a multicultural southern state. Furthermore, his juvenile justice reform advocacy rekindles decades-old moral and political debates that implicate directly the currently strained budgets of numerous states and the federal government.

Writing in response to the 2007 sexual abuse scandal at the West Texas State School near the tiny town of Pyote, Bush tells the 120-year story of the Texas juvenile justice system that spawned this notoriously dysfunctional institution. Organized into seven chapters and an epilogue, Who Gets a Childhood? seeks to explain how Texas’s regime of juvenile justice reached its current position as one of the more controversial systems in the United States, while also advocating aggressive juvenile justice reform across the nation. Examining closely the experiences of African American, Mexican American, and Euro-American girls and boys in the Texas training schools, which racially segregated inmates into the 1960s, Bush unpacks the historic relationship between race, juvenile justice, and, importantly, competing understandings of childhood. In this account, the history of the Texas juvenile justice system, which began in 1889, is marked by a cyclical pattern of abuse and scandal–from humanitarian reforms in the 1910s, 1940s, and 1970s, to juvenile crime panics and “get-tough” “law and order” crackdowns in the 1950s and 1960s and from about 1985 to 2009. Public fears of “teenage terrorists” at the height of the Cold War and of “super-predators” in the Ronald Reagan era and early 1990s generated the growth of expensive and remote lockdown facilities, which failed to deter juvenile crime but unleashed unconscionable physical and psychological abuses on inmates. This was so notwithstanding the fact that, since the 1940s, experts had reached a consensus on the superior effectiveness of smaller, community-based, rehabilitative programs. Texas consistently failed to sustain its periodic reform efforts–a pattern Bush attributes most to a widespread willingness to view juvenile offenders as fully responsible adults. He also argues that the inadequacies of the Texas system have been a consequence of structural necessity; white racism; the ideological commitments of administrators; the resistance of juveniles placed in state custody; recalcitrant townspeople who staffed, ran, and protected the institutions; legislators who were generally hostile to expenditures for juvenile delinquents they deemed morally suspect’ and the transience and disorganization of child advocates, at least until the 1970s.


William S. Bush. Who Gets a Childhood? Race and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-Century Texas. Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South Series. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Illustrations. x + 257 pp. $69.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8203-2983-3; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8203-3719-7; $24.95 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-8203-3762-3.

Reviewed by Mark Carroll (University of Missouri)