This is election year is a time for all who support public education to step forward. Every candidate for state office, Democrat or Republican, should be required to answer five simple questions and held accountable for their response:
• Will you support legislation that addresses adequate and equal funding of the state’s public schools?
• Will you support legislation that provides all active Texas teachers a pay increase at least equal to the national average?
• Will you vigorously oppose any legislation intended to fund a school voucher system?
• Will you support legislation that restores funding of TRS-Care health insurance for retirees to its level prior to 2017?
• Will you support legislation that assures retired members of the Teacher Retirement System a substantial increase in their monthly annuities?
Grading criteria: 5=A; 4=B; 3=C; 2=D; 1=F. Failure to respond=0.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that funding public education is impossible. Education is our future.
GENE STOKES, ROUND ROCK
Re: Jan. 2 article, “Unauthorized immigrants account for few crimes, but precise percentage seems elusive.”
It seems Lupe Valdez is willing to look at the facts regarding immigration, whereas Gov. Greg Abbott seeks only to foment strife among the voters. Abbott was so quick to blame a recent incident along the border on immigrants and Mexican lawbreakers. Turns out that two border patrol agents were injured in an accident: no ambush, no lawbreakers, no truth in Abbott’s assertions. I haven’t heard a word from Abbott retracting his previous incorrect blustering. Allow me to save you the trouble of looking-up the word to describe a person using Abbott’s shameful actions: demagogue, a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
LARRY WISE, AUSTIN
Re: Dec. 29 commentary, “The real conspiracy may be FBI helping Hillary Clinton.”
I knew it was bogus as soon as I saw the Pat Buchanan byline. To Buchanan’s core point, it was not “gross negligence” by Hillary Clinton to use her private server because she had every reason to believe her information technology person had implemented the required security protocols on the server.
Clinton was operating in good faith trying to do her job as the thousands of emails revealed no secret plot or criminal acts. But it has sure made a convenient battering ram for political partisans. Here’s a conspiracy theory for you, Pat: Have the Koch brothers and Steve Bannon succeeded in installing a puppet in the Oval Office to do their bidding in their quest to take over the country?
FRANK SHOFNER, LAGO VISTA
Re: Dec. 26 article, “Women outpacing men in Texas college graduation rates.”
Should we laugh or cry? State officials are greatly concerned because women receive more than 55 percent of college degrees in Texas. We have a gender gap! Horrors!
I graduated from the University of Southern California in 1967. Back then, engineering colleges were just beginning to admit women students. Women were discouraged from pursuing degrees other than teaching and nursing. We understood “gender gap.”
Now, there is concern because … why, exactly? Is there evidence that men are discriminated against in admissions? Is the number of students graduating insufficient to meet the employment requirements of our state? Or is the concern that having too few men with college degrees might force companies to hire and promote women with college degrees?
SUE CALDWELL, AUSTIN
Re: Dec. 24 article, “Houston police seek guns stolen in storm.”
The recent story about the more than 100 firearms stolen from Houston gun stores during the flood reveals another failure by the federal government to protect its citizens.
There was no reason for these deadly guns to fall into the hands of criminals — except that the federal government has repeatedly failed to implement better mental health screening for potential gun owners, and the military has been allowed to not report the criminal convictions of its members.
As a legal gun owner, I am convinced that these two failures on the part of the federal government caused the problem in Houston.
JAMES J. MERCIER, AUSTIN
Congratulations to the Austin City Council for moving us further down the renewable energy path with Austin Energy’s recently announced contract to purchase enough additional solar power to put Austin at more than 50 percent solar power by 2020, and at an historically low price to boot.
Unfortunately, if the worst climate impacts of excessive carbon emissions are to be avoided, the whole country must move down that road — and do it faster. A carbon fee and dividend program, such as that advocated by Citizens’ Climate Lobby, is a revenue-neutral, market-based approach to weaning us off fossil fuels. The climate and economic benefits to the U.S. and its likely influence on other countries to do their part in carbon emissions reduction make a carbon fee and dividend policy a fair and effective way to accelerate the country’s conversion to clean energy.
CYNTHIA LESKY, AUSTIN