EDUCATIONAL HERO — Martin Luther King, Jr.
King was a civil rights activist who literally gave his life so that people of color, in particular children, would receive the same rights afforded to white America. He championed education quality and resources for all children in America, the rights for the poor and disenfranchised to the same educational attainment of white America that they were being deprived of because of segregation and discrimination.
MLK quotes on education:
“Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.”
“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.”
“The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.”
EDUCATIONAL ZERO #1 – Dee Margo, El Paso’s current mayor
Margo’s years as a state lawmaker during 2011-13
Dee Margo has had his fingers in Texas’ and El Paso’s educational system for several years now.
Margo, who says he’s an El Pasoan before a Republican, was a GOP state representative/lawmaker and part of the state budget writing committee in Austin in 2011, who voted for massive budget cuts to Texas’ public school systems.
Massive as in more than $5 billion in public education cuts to districts that desperately rely on them for survival.
According to Chandra Villanueva, a senior policy analyst for Center for Public Policy Priorities as quoted in an interview for the State of Texas program –
“They decided to cut public education instead of using the rainy day fund at the time to keep the levels steady.
What we found was that campuses that have really high concentrations of low-income students really saw dramatic cuts in bilingual education,” Villanueva stated. The study discovered that funding for bilingual education has dropped 40 percent, while funding for programs aimed at keeping elementary school students from falling behind dropped 21 percent. “So, students that need support the most are the ones that lost the most.”
“Until we put more money into this system, we’re eight years behind in funding,” Villanueva said.
At the time Margo signed off and voted for the devastating cuts to public education, Texas students were in a very precarious position with Texas educational quality ranked a dismal #39 in America. Since then, we have dropped to #43 in 2016 and we continue our freefall even lower into the educational basement on a national level. El Paso’s students are even further behind Texas students because of our unique circumstances.
Texas has continued the cuts in public education having never brought them up to levels before the cuts.
As quoted above by Ms. Villanueva, it is our highest risk / our economically disadvantaged / our language challenged students that take the biggest hit in educational opportunity.
These students are a great majority of El Paso’s vulnerable in a nutshell.
And they are continuing to fall into the educational cracks because of poor leadership and questionable decision-making.
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Margo’s two year EPISD Board of Managers stint
After Mr. Margo washed his hands of the damage to Texas’ public educational system he was a part of as a state representative in Austin, he was appointed to lead the EPISD Board of Managers after the godawful corruption mess that began with then-Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia, spreading it’s tentacles throughout campuses in El Paso.
The emergency Board of Managers was selected and put in place essentially as a damage-control device to make decisions that would put a good public face on EPISD in as short a time as possible considering the situation.
While some good was done bailing water out of the sinking EPISD, this capsized boat is still taking on a lot of water and is continuing to sink, just not as quickly.
One of the first things the board of managers did was order a study of EPISD’s facilities, determining that several buildings were in bad shape or underutilized because of a steady drip of students leaving EPISD.
This is where the record-breaking, student-shafting, taxpayer-gouging Cabrera / Fenenbock $670,000,000 EPISD band-aid of a bond comes in. (They will be Parts 2 and 3 of this series)
Margo’s hand-picked EPISD superintendent successor to ex-con Garcia was not an individual well-versed and experienced in the duties critical and necessary to running a massive school system overseeing the education of 60,000 plus El Paso students.
Margo, being a businessman couldn’t help but select a fellow businessman/lawyer with only 3 years practical experience teaching (at the elementary school level).
Enter Juan Cabrera, a Kingsville/Del Rio resident who has a degree in law and 6 years experience with Texas law firms along with 5 years experience with foreign software companies.
Why do I bring this up?
Because Margo’s bizarre pick for superintendent, in addition to being paid full salary for 2+ years while getting on-the-job training is also responsible for decisions that have negatively impacted a major cross-section of El Paso’s disadvantaged students.
You see, Margo’s brain is wired to think in dollars and cents, public relations and personal advancement…something that is very obvious as we watch how he behaves as mayor of El Paso.
More on Zero #3 Juan Cabrera in Part 3 of this series as I reveal how this gamble on a “non-traditional” selection for superintendent of EPISD has affected education quality here in El Paso.
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Margo and his extreme views on education
If you look to see who contributed to the Rising El Paso Super PAC that pumped half a million dollars into promoting the EPISD bond with half-truths and outright lies you will find Dee Margo’s name as a contributor along with names like Woody Hunt (long-time Margo friend), the Meyers Group (Fenenbock’s brother-in-law), Mimco, Jobe, Western Refining (when owned by Foster), and several law-firms and real-estate companies.
It’s obvious that these people and corporations were more interested in multi-million dollar contracts than doing it “for the kids”.
Woody Hunt and Dee Margo are thick as thieves when it comes to local education and how it should be done.
Think Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her radically fringe ideas.
All three believe in pitting public schools against private and charter schools for tax-payer dollars.
Woody and his billions and Margo and his Mayoral bully pulpit will more than likely use their influence to steer the direction of education here in El Paso. Both I believe are big proponents of the CREEED method. (Google it)
We’ve already seen the “innovative and cutting edge educational flavor-of-the-week approaches” that Juan Cabrera and Dori Fenenbock have embraced from other cities like Denver where the student bodies couldn’t be more different than El Paso’s unique border students.
Approaches that they heavily invested in with dollars and training that don’t deal with real world situations our kids struggle with here in El Paso.
This is the educational world Mr. Margo lives in. It involves our current realm where public schools will be duking it out with private and charters schools for public money.
A world where EPISD will continue hemorrhaging students to YISD, SISD and charter/private schools within our own school district.
A world where only the brightest and entitled will be accepted into these competing schools while the vast majority of students will continue to drown in a sinking EPISD.
A world where you can hire ignorant superintendents and pay them handsomely with exorbitant salaries, never-ending benefits, questionable raises, additional sick leave and vacation days while leaving the educators high and dry and buying their own supplies.
This is what separate the educational heroes from the zeros.
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