Top Texas Republican uses “racially charged” term in his discussion of public schools to C-suite execs.
At the swanky Stephen F Austin Royal Sonesta Hotel in Austin on Wednesday, Republican firebrand Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was invited to give the keynote speech at the Texas Business Leadership Council’s Spring Meeting & Policy Summit. According to their mission overview, Texas Business Leadership Council (TBLC) is a “statewide network of CEOs and senior business executives” who came to hear about the priorities for, arguably, the most important lawmaker in Austin.
Most of Patrick’s roughly 30-minute remarks were par for the course from a statewide elected including making a strong pitch for using taxpayer money to send kids to private schools known as vouchers. This is when the mundane took a turn.
While remarking that he promised to “pass a parental rights bill,” Patrick briefly segued to the topic of classroom safety before saying that we need to “get the thugs out the classroom.”
It is worth noting that Patrick offered absolutely no context as to who these supposed thugs are, but we can take an educated guess. Patrick’s comments came amid a renewed call for the state to take over the Houston Independent School District – one of the most diverse, Black, school districts in the state.
So, who exactly are the thugs?
Unless and until Patrick clears it up we don’t fully know, but what we do know is that “thug” is often used as a coded racial slur to describe the Black community. The use of this word in relation to vouchers shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially amid the open war on including historically accurate information about race in school curriculums as there is a long documented history of vouchers being a racist policy that furthers inequality.
Patrick himself acknowledged the economic challenges that vouchers will cause in his remarks, noting objections from rural school districts so pinched for cash that they literally can’t afford to lose a single student’s funding. The funding that major urban ISD’s like Houston and Dallas could lose will come largely at the expense of students of color in schools that badly need more funding to help their students thrive.
But the question remains – who is the thug? Is it our youth who goes to school worried about the next school shooting? Or educators who disagree with Patrick’s worldview and dare speak out? Or is it the Lt. Governor who is pushing his extreme agenda over the real needs of our state?