Linus Wright

Now that the election is over and the campaign ads from the current governor talking about the solid state of the Texas economy are a distant memory, the Legislature is having to deal with reality — huge deficits.

Former Dallas Independent School District superintendent Linus Wright, who helped destroy DISD in the 1980s, made a budget-cutting proposal — eliminate 12th grade.

Makes sense. Has lots of upside.

If most dropouts occur in the 12th grade, eliminate 12th grade. With the stroke of a pen, save millions of dollars and cut the Texas dropout rate in half.

Never mind that colleges don’t accept students who’ve only graduated from 11th grade. But maybe college is a waste of time to Wright and his ilk as well.

Wright says that 12th grade is a waste of time because there is only one required course. As superintendent, he did nothing to correct that. However, after he was gone, DISD began opening magnet schools and offering students courses with AP or college credit. And college-bound students do have additional requirements.

This proposal, of course, is just another step in destroying the public education system, long a goal of the right-wing. Private schools won’t be eliminating 12th grade and their students will graduate from 12th grade and be accepted into college. Those who cannot afford private school will be forced to spend money to complete their high school education, maybe in community college.

They will have to pay for that year of education before applying to a four-year college, which has become more and more unaffordable. Adding a required year of paid education will stop more students from continuing their education. And while the 11th-grade certificate will be accepted as completing high school in Texas, every Texas public school “graduate” will be considered a dropout throughout the rest of the country. Not even Mississippi is doing this.

Make no mistake, this proposal is about class warfare, not saving taxpayer money or improving or streamlining education.

And why is this an LGBT issue? As with the anti-bullying campaign, protecting LGBT kids is the responsibility of all of us. As with stopping bullying, straight kids who want to learn will benefit as well. Bullies like Wright who think education is only for those who can afford it must not be allowed to create Texas policy.

It was Wright who insisted on a policy of firing LGBT teachers.

But Wright did give us one gift. Harryette Ehrhardt was a DISD board member under his reign and she understood how awful his policies were. She rose to the occasion, met with gay teachers, worked to change policies, became an LGBT advocate and was elected to the Legislature. So we can thank Wright for that one thing. But we got rid of him, DISD became a much better place and his suggestions to the Legislature must not be taken as anything other than the crap he always dished out to Dallas.