Texas government is the antithesis of patriotic.
School vouchers are a threat to children, Texas and in fact, national security.
Public Education is something I am passionate about. For 21 years, my wife, Mrs. C, taught in our local school district. Any commentary prior, ran the risk of negative consequences for her and colleagues if they took a stand against such politically sensitive issues, especially in a state like Texas. Our governor, Greg Abbott, his indicted felon AG, Ken Paxton, our Lt. Gov, Dan Patrick (actually Danny Goeb from Maryland) whose GOP leadership has had a decades long agenda to defund public schools, is now working on achieving their goal, with legislation being debated this week in our legislature. The TX Constitution says they can’t but that doesn’t matter anymore in TX. The only party in control of TX for the past 28 years, never considers the law anymore. Abbott and Co. depend on an AG and a TX Supreme Court, that rubberstamps their un-American agenda. They are political extremists, not conservatives.
The North East ISD Board of Trustees and Superintendent make the "Team of Eight." Sean Maika, Ed.D., Superintendent Shannon Grona, President Terri Williams, Vice President Sandy Hughey, Secretary David Beyer, Trustee Steve Hilliard, Trustee Marsha Landry, Trustee Diane Sciba Villarreal, Trustee
Steve Hilliard, standing on the far left of the back row and Marsha Landry, standing, second from the right in the back row are supporters of vouchers. Mrs. Landry voted to support vouchers and Hilliard, who also supports vouchers did not have the courage to even vote. The question for those who care about public education, is why are they on a public school, Board of Trustees if they are hellbent on defunding the schools they represent?
It is bad enough that the 2022 TX GOP midterm platform included several items and issues that are unconstitutional, both to the US and TX. Constitutions, now they seek to impose vouchers on us all. To be frank, these vouchers would be paid for with taxpayer dollars, a clear violation of both constitutions. They are primarily intended to give parent’s $8,000 dollars of which the overwhelming majority would be spent on privatized Christian schools. The state currently spends $6,100 on students, among the lowest in the nation. Here in TX, this means the Mike Flynn version or rather, Christian Nationalist ideology. It is universally accepted by honest Americans, that vouchers defund public schools.
Flynn is the disgraced former 3 Star General and National Security Advisor, who had operational control of the January 6th, 2021, armed insurrection at the US Capital. These days, Flynn, travels the country pushing Christian Nationalism, based on un-American concepts based on conspiracy theories. For those who understand Putin’s role, yes, Flynn’s ideology is very much in line with what Russia exports and is intended to undermine western democracies.
Since I am the son of, father and father-in-law of, and cousin to at least a couple of dozen professional public educators, I refuse to allow Greg Abbott and his un-American hordes take public education without a fight. I and other true patriots have the Constitution on our side. Abbott and Co. have only racism, dishonesty and fascism on theirs. In the ongoing Trump era, Greg and the TX GOP, much like the national GOP are anti-patriots and have imposed so much shame on honest Texans of either party, that their legacy will forever be shameful. Not since the Civil War has Texas been so humiliated. They will not enjoy the place they get in Texas history.
Below are the comments that I presented to the Board of Trustees meeting, this past Monday. If you find your state is up against the same critical threat, what I have said below may be helpful in your district or state. Please feel free to share should you feel the comments worthy.
Good evening Mrs. Grona, Members of the Board, Dr. Maika and guests,
My name is Paul Cobaugh and I live at, XXXXXXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXX. I am here, this evening to discuss the issue of Mr. Hilliard’s abstention and Mrs. Landry’s vote against the resolution against school vouchers and so-called “savings accounts.” The district and in fact Texas, will beckon failure by turning our children into indoctrinated students, rather than educated students. Religious indoctrination is the intent of the Voucher crowd.
I am a product of at least 5 successive generations of professional educators and father of the sixth. My wife is a retired teacher with 21 years in NEISD. I am retired from a USSOCOM career with real-world national security experience. I now author research regarding domestic and foreign threats to our democracy in the Think Tank where I hold the position of VP. Vouchers are one of those threats.
Our Founders knew and preached the criticality of a well and accurately informed citizenry, devoid of religious interference, at the birth of our constitution. James Madison, our third president and father of our constitution, laid out all representative governments from the Greeks forward, side by side in order to find the flaws that ended up undermining all historically similar governments. Religion in government was one thing he absolutely insisted on preventing, at the ratification meetings for our Constitution. He was adamant because religion in government has always led to failure of democratic systems.
On August 15th, 1789 of the Ratification Convention’s committee meetings and during the debate about how our fledgling constitution dealt with the issue of religion, Madison stated the following:
“On August 15, Madison explains to House members his interpretation of the words he has drafted protecting religious liberty. The words mean, he said, "that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience."
- James Madison
August 15th, 1789
Madison was also quoted as saying; “education is the true foundation of civil liberty” I and most Americans, including SCOTUS, have throughout US history, interpreted the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the Establishment Clause and more, as the basis protecting public free education.
In 1995, then Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich began a crusade along with Ralph Reed, of Moral Majority infamy, to replace public schools with a voucher program that would have the US government pay for private schools, that in their mind would become Christian-based school programs. This effort was and still is primarily funded by Right wing religious groups and PACs dealing in dark money. These PACs have funded three of our Board of Trustees for the District. Now there is nothing wrong with religion of any type, but that is not how our constitution works. There is a separation of church and state at almost every level of government, except for some exceptions for prayers and some other nuances.
School vouchers are in simple language, an attempt at an end-run around the US and Texas Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment and in fact, what it means to be an American citizen in good standing. Mr. Hilliard should know all of this as a former Air Force officer. As for Mrs. Landry, she and Mr. Hilliard both, have failed their obligatory responsibilities as Board members to be prepared for meetings and votes. They both also have assigned duties to improve and support the district’s policies and strategies for advancing public education. Had they done any homework, neither would suggest violating the US and Texas Constitutions, while concurrently defunding public free schools for Texas children.
The TX Constitution also supports the Federal courts’ position
“Sec. 1. SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS.
i. “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”
I am particularly distressed by Mr. Hilliard’s backhanded (abstention) failure to uphold his oath. He swore the same sacred oath that I and millions of American service members have sworn and upheld, to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. I am here tonight, to do what he and Mrs. Landry will not, protect our constitutionally guaranteed, taxpayer funded schools from their intended defunding. I hope everyone will join me in this patriotic endeavor by putting an end to electing Trustees, who do not have excellent public schools as a priority.
Thank you for this newsletter, Paul, I particularly appreciated your Founding Fathers quotes, and the depth of your knowledge on the foundational discourses underlying American identities. m