The Tea Party brain
trust deficit is at it again, in Texas. Republican Governor Greg Abbott has broken GOP tradition and has proposed spending more money for existing half-day pre-schools to serve kids who come from poor and military households, and children who are learning English.
“We must improve early education.” Abbott said in a February speech to both chambers of the state legislature. However, some of Abbott’s fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s advisors say that the socialist pre-K program creates a “Godless” environment for children.
Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board, which consists of “18 hand-picked Tea party consultants,” slammed the House Bill that would enact the funding in a letter on Tuesday. The advisors said that children would be placed in a “godless environment” through the program. The eighteen Tea Partiers compared the program to something “historically promoted in socialistic [sic] countries.”
“We are experimenting at great cost to taxpayers with a program that removes our young children from homes and half-day religious preschools and mothers’ day out programs to a Godless environment with only evidence showing absolutely NO LONG-TERM BENEFITS beyond the 1st grade,” the letter read, in part. “This interference by the state tramples upon our parental rights. The early removal of children from parents’ care is historically promoted in socialistic countries, not free societies which respect parental rights.”
Patrick says that he did not read the letter until after it had been distributed, and that he did not authorize its release. “The letter in question was unsolicited and expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens,” spokesman Alejandro Garcia said on behalf of the governor.
The Tea Party is not the only group that opposes aspects of the legislation. As Texas currently offers half-day pre-K to low income households, military families, and those learning English, the bill would do nothing to expand pre-K eligibility. Instead, it would provide money to improve the programs — something education groups and Democrats have called a half-measure.
In response to the letter, Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse issued a statement saying the plan is “a conservative antidote to ineffective pre-K programs” that adds accountability and implements higher standards, rather than the godless and ‘socialistic” indoctrination scheme the Tea Party claims it is.
Early childhood schooling is one of the most important parts of a child’s development; the social and educational experiences are critical parts of growing well-rounded and intelligent children. The Republican crusade of ignorance keeps rolling on, but now they’re aiming at our children. These absurd complaints by the Tea Party are just the latest salvo in a war of delusions, and the children of Texas deserve much better than this.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.