The Texas Education Code preamble includes the following objective:
“Educators will prepare students to be thoughtful, active citizens who have an appreciation for the basic values of our state and national heritage and who can understand and productively function in a free enterprise society.” Texas Education Code, Title 2, Subtitle A, Chapter 4. Sec. 4.001 (b) Objective 5
Schools are obsessed with standardized tests (especially STAAR), Average Daily Attendance (ADA), and sports programs. It is mathematically impossible for every student to be a National Merit Scholar, Commended Scholar or in the top 10% of the class. It is impossible for every student to become a college or professional athlete.
However, it is entirely possible to prepare 99.9% of students to become thoughtful, active citizens as stated in Objective 5 above. Based on the amount of taxpayer money redirected by school boards and administrators, one would think achieving bragging rights for turning out the next Heisman Trophy winner or World Series pitcher is the priority.
There is an irrefutable Level 1 metric to determine whether an education system is meeting Objective 5: voter registration rates of those under 25. The Level 2 metric is whether they actually vote in every election in which they are eligible. Level 3 is how they are actually voting.
Level 2 metrics for high school graduates under the age of 25 are the easiest to analyze.
The 25 and under demographic had less than a 20% turnout (of those in that age group registered to vote) in the 2016 party primaries and caucuses. That dropped to less than 1% in run-off elections. Their participation in local (city council, school board, bond elections, etc.) is statistically zero.
Williamson County, Texas has 15 public high schools and 290,908 registered voters, of whom 28,626 are under the age of 25. These are only those sub-25 year-olds who bothered to register to vote. Of the 28,626 registered voters born since 1990, less than 20% voted in any party’s hotly-contested Presidential primary, and less than one-half of 1% (or 136 voters)* voted in the primary run-off elections. These statistics are not isolated to Williamson County or to Texas. As for local elections, a $70M Leander bond and city council election saw participation from less than 20 of 2,040 voters under the age of 25 vote in that election. *(at least 1/3 of these were educated at home or in a private school)
In the 2016 Presidential Primary, it was not uncommon for the rate of undervotes to be as much as 50-60% in some counties. This means that those voting cared only about voting for a presidential candidate and knew little or cared nothing about the next down-ballot race.
Based on these trends, it would almost appear the educational systems are intentionally keeping students (and their parents) in the dark. (See, “Should Leander ISD taxpayers vote for an additional $454.4M of failure?” https://wp.me/p844kK-f7)
Parents, there is a tangible way you can take control and motivate your children to become thoughtful, active citizens. Show your children your property tax statements each year from the time they turn 12 until they leave home. When a bond election* comes up, calculate the annual/monthly impact on your budget based on the projected tax increase to finance those bonds. Then tell your children what they will now have to do without (WiFi, phone?) or will now have to pay for themselves in order for you to cover the tax increase.
You might start seeing them pay much more attention to something other than the number of “likes” on their latest social media post.
*How many of these questions should an 18 year old be able to answer?https://wp.me/p844kK-hb