Texas Education

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Two things that don’t work in Texas

Posted by Texas Education on July 13, 2008

First, we have the steroids fiasco, as of late. I like Rick Casey’s take on it. And I love the title Prayer: May this house be safe from politicians in July 10th’s edition of the Chronicle.

I’m reminded of a routine by the late comedian Alexander King.

He would tell the story of a friend who ended every visit to King’s house by stopping in the doorway, lowering his eyes, folding his hands and saying, “May this house be safe from tigers.”

King finally asked him what was the meaning of “this idiot prayer?”

His friend responded with a hurt look and a question.

“How long have I been saying it?”

About three years, King said.

“Three years,” the friend said. “Well — been bothered by any tigers lately?”

King came to like the prayer so much, he made it the title of his best-selling book.

The prospect of being randomly tested is about effective a deterrent as King’s friend’s prayer, and considerably less charming.

This is just a guess, but I’d bet the more effective deterrent by far is that wonderful ad produced by the Partnership for a Drug Free America and aired widely during televised sporting events, a near-perfect way of reaching the target audience.

The other thing that doesn’t work: Texas leads nation in abstinence education funding. In today’s Chronicle on-line.

Texas spent a nation-high $17 million last year for abstinence education programs that continue to stir debate about whether classes promoting virginity before marriage work in public schools.

Federal statistics in June showed that 52.9 percent of Texas students in ninth through 12th grades had sexual intercourse, compared with 47.8 nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that Texas youths are less likely to use condoms.


But the state lawmaker who co-authored the abstinence legislation in 1995 says the law was not meant to eliminate comprehensive sex education in schools. Democrat Garnet Coleman of Houston said he put up the bill at a time when he feared conservative state officials would abandon sex education completely.

“I think the interpretation has morphed into abstinence-only, which is not our policy,” Coleman said. “If I could fix anything, it’d be to make the law more instructive to say, ‘This is what you can teach'” about contraceptives.

The federal government has spent $1.1 billion on funding for abstinence programs since 1982, according to federal officials. Texas has spent more than other state — almost $117 million, including $32.4 million of its own money.

So now we know neither of these programs work. Let us not contemplate any longer on how much more to waste on these programs, quit pouring more tax payer dollars into them, and concentrate on other  programs, ie: technology, fine arts, and other more fundamentally sound programs that we know work.

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