The state of our schools.
When I was in elementary school, Texas public schools were the envy of the south. Teachers would graduate from their home states of Louisana, Arkansas and Oklahoma then relocate to Texas for the opportunity to mold young minds and be treated as professionals. Texas had it's pick of the best.
Then everything changed. Democrats started focusing on the higher educated people and neglected the needs of rural areas. Then, Texas Republicans took control and then began the systematic dismantling of our once great public education system.
The STARR test became synonymous with state failure. Our commitments to our retired teachers are about as valuable as the paper they were written on and about half of our state property taxes go to wealthy, private schools. We're teaching the next generation of Texans that the only value they have is the currency they produce and the state of our school infrastructure is saddening at best.
But, the next generation of politically engaged adults had already started paying attention. Raised and molded by the rural south like the generation of great Democrats before us we started to wonder. "Why does everything west of I-35 get the short end of the stick?"
Yearly Per Student Spending
0%that Go to Private Schools
"Why does everything west of I-35 get the short end of the stick?"
So, we started to act. We tried to wait our turn and let the party big wigs lead but they were only willing to manage. They weren't willing to do the necessary, dirty work to make real change. So we decided to do what any reasonable Texan would do. We started to do the hard work ourselves. We started talking door to door with everyday Texans about what they wanted to see in a modern Texas. We started to shape and share our vision of a progressive, inclusive Texas and things have begun to change.
We can do better. We can invest in our schools and students and pay and hold teachers accountable as professionals rather than babysitters. We can reform our public education system to be a dynamic, invested system that produces productive, successful adults no matter their path, but we have to do the work!
I'm asking you to help me do the hard work. It isn't glamorous and it doesn't involve rubbing elbows with a lot of rich, Texas elite. But if you want to change Texas public education for the better and help mold the next generation of young people into a dynamic, capable, modern workforce then join up.
I've been creating a network of everyday people all over Texas who are willing to help change it for the better. They are willing to act, speak their values and mobilize on behalf of Texas education. Are you willing to be one of them? Can Texas students, teachers and parents count on you?
ROADS & INFRASTRUCTURE
I first opened my business in New Mexico. I lived just over the border for a few years. They, unlike Texas, are a poor state and have to allocate infrastructure money to the larger cities. It was striking traveling back to Texas. Immediately as you crossed the border the roads got better. It went from like driving on rock to driving on glass. Things have changed a lot since then. I had the opportunity to make that drive again and the opposite is now true. New Mexico has invested what little infrastructure money they have in their rural areas. The Texas legislature has left ours to rot.
I had to have the suspension and parts of my linkage on my car replaced in 2015. It cost me over $2000. It is now 2018. I just got my car back from the mechanic having had to have some of the work done again. Our roads are in a terrible state and people want to blame their city councils much like they want to blame their school boards for the state of our schools. Cities can only do so much. Our state legislature has slowed rural road and infrastructure development to a trickle over the past twenty years and the results of that are starting to show.
I grew up in Ranger, Texas. Famous for an oil boom in the 1930's and a huge methamphetamine problem in the 1990's-2000's. There are around 2,500 people who live there including my mom. I grew up in a shack there on 5th street. Last year there were several national stories about Ranger and it became infamous for something new. It's water is more lead toxic than the water in Flint, Michigan. To date, nothing has been done about it and 2,500 people still live there. There is still a school there. But they're rural and the Texas legislature doesn't care about rural Texas. My big question is, "What about all the other small towns with 100 year old water systems? Do we care about them?"
"What about all the other small towns with 100 year old water systems? Do we care about them?"
Texas can do better. Our economy doesn't exist without rural, west Texas. We provide the food, energy and workers that keep places like Dallas and Houston going and the people that live here deserve a share of the benefit.
West Texas is a beautiful place with unending landscapes. Neighbors here have a vested interest in how their neighbor is doing. It is worthwhile to live here. I'm asking you to help me show the Texas legislature that we are worth investing in. I want to show them that people in the Big Country matter.
RURAL HOSPITALS CLOSED
In Texas since 2013
Rural per capita income in Texas is $37,629. My zip code, 79603 that drops down less than $20,000. We rank in the bottom third of U.S. states for rural healthcare. We have a 15% uninsured rate and in most rural areas people are forced to drive hours to get to a hospital.
18 rural hospitals have closed in Texas since 2013. Most have been forced to drastically cut services and one of the first things to go is maternity care. More than 50% of births in Texas are covered under Medicaid yet we have a legislature and governor who would deny helping those pregnancies out of ideology. And we have the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. How can our wealthy legislature continue to deny that these issues are connected?
How Sam Stacks Up
ON YOUR ISSUES
We can overcome bad legislators.
The issues facing Texas are big, that doesn't mean they're not solvable. Our biggest problem is legislators, senators and governors that want a fancy piece of legislation with their name on it rather than to do the hard work of standing up to corporate special interests and creating something that helps the everyday person. Together, we can look past ideology to common understanding and do the hard work necessary to get overcome the common problems of poverty and inequity to make a Texas that's fair and benefits everyone.
"A system that works for everyone. We do it through good education, good jobs and working together to hold corporations accountable to us, the people of Texas."
All of us as Texans basically want the same thing. We want to live good lives, reasonably. We want to be able to raise a family in comfort and know that our children will have a good chance of having it better than we do. We want safe, communities and jobs that pay a wage that can make all this happen. If we're going to work toward the American dream for everyone it's going to require the effort of good, reasonable people. Together, we can create a Texas that has a strong, robust middle class and the rungs to reach that ideal aren't broken. A system that works for everyone. We do it through good education, good jobs and working together to hold corporations accountable to us, the people of Texas. It's not rocket science in fact, It's the least we can do.