Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

Texans saw parks need

Amarillo Globe-News

As the smoke began to clear from Tuesday’s state constitutional amendment election, it became clear that Texans want to see their state parks and historic sites guaranteed a stable and secure revenue stream.

Proposition 5, one of 10 on the ballot, received overwhelming support with 88 percent voting in favor and 12 percent against. The result will be the dedication of revenue from the sporting goods sales tax so those dollars can be used only by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission on public parks and historic sites. ...

“Tonight, the people of Texas sent a clear message that our state parks and historic sites matter, and they are a vital part of our heritage,” State Rep. John Cyrier, Republican from Lockhart and chairman of the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee in the Texas House, said in a statement released by the Texas Coalition for State Parks.

“I was proud to carry the legislation that put this issue in front of Texas voters. Prop 5 will ensure that current and future Texans will have the opportunity to enjoy the rich history and culture that our state parks and historic sites afford.” ...

The voters’ decision restores the original intent of a 1993 state law that allowed all revenue from sporting goods sales tax to be used for maintenance, upkeep and expansion of the state’s parks and historical sites. However, the revenue was regularly used by the Legislature for other budgetary needs, and the parks, on average, received only about 40 percent, causing facilities to put projects, and in some cases, routine maintenance, on hold.

“Texans have demonstrated their love of our state parks and historic sites with a resounding vote of yes in favor of Proposition 5,” Joseph Fitzsimmons, founder of the Texas Coalition for State Parks, said in the statement. ...

Approval of this amendment indicates Texas voters treasure the state’s parks and historical sites and want to see them cared for and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. It was a nod to caring for the local environment and realizing the parks are equal part economic driver for the state and priceless possession for the public.

The decision ensures protection of water quality, natural areas, beaches and wildlife so that future visitors can enjoy these incredible attractions for generations to come. It also means those who oversee the parks and historical sites will be able to plan for long-term projects that will help the parks increase their capacity to meet what will surely be increased access and demand in the future.

Must do better on reading

Beaumont Enterprise

Remember those bumper stickers that said, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”? It’s time to re-emphasize that subject in our state.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that reading scores for fourth-graders in public schools in Texas ranked 42nd in the nation. That’s pretty bad. What could be worse? Scores for our eighth-graders were 46th in the nation.

All Texans should be alarmed. These students are the young men and women who will carry our state forward in the coming decades. That is, they will if they can. If they lack basic educational abilities, they won’t. And in case you haven’t noticed, our state and nation are becoming more dependent on high technology and people with advanced skills. The path of the future seems pretty clear. The only question is whether Texas and our country will have the people who can keep up in an increasingly competitive and complex environment.

There’s no reason that students in our state can’t do better. In math scores, for example, the same survey revealed that fourth-graders in Texas ranked 12th nationwide.

Margaret Spellings, secretary of education under President George W. Bush and now CEO of the nonprofit Texas 2036, said our state went from leading the nation in educating diverse students to losing ground. ...

Of all the subjects that our students must master, reading is probably the most important. It is used in every form of learning. Students with a strong vocabulary and familiarity with the rules of grammar can communicate better and unlock the secrets of other topics. ...

But whatever Texans think about this issue, rankings like 42nd and 46th are not good enough. They are deplorable, and they must improve. Our children can read better if they are taught better. We have to make that happen.

Today's Bible verse

“Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”

— 2 Kings 17:38-39

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