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Public School: The Foundation of Democracy

Posted Date: 05/14/2021

Public School: The Foundation of Democracy

In the Pampa ISD, we are settling into the 2nd six weeks of the school year and we are excited about the accomplishments and successes of our students and staff on the fields, on the courts, on the stage, and especially in the classrooms.  We are raising the rigor and challenging our students and staff to bring their best every day!  I am #PampaProud of the hard work, dedication, and commitment of our staff and am impressed with the work ethic and growth mindset that I am seeing from many of our students in the classrooms.  Learning and growing is a process that takes many stakeholders being involved along the way.  We appreciate the support of our community and parents as we continue to improve how we serve our students in the Pampa public schools.


Speaking of public schools, I truly believe that public school is the very foundation of our democracy.   The quality of the future of our community, of our state, of our nation, and indeed of our world depends on the quality of the education that each generation receives.  If we want a successful future in Pampa, in Texas, in America---then we must educate ALL of our students. 


I also want to remind you that one of the primary duties of the Texas Legislature is to fund public schools.  Article VII of the Texas Constitution states “…it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and MAKE SUITABLE PROVISION for the SUPPORT and MAINTENANCE of an EFFICIENT SYSTEM OF PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS.”    Did you know that currently, the state only funds about 38% of the cost of public schools in Texas?  In addition, that number is expected to go DOWN in 2019.  This is unacceptable.


So, what can be done about this?  Fortunately, we have the most powerful tool available to us that impacts the decisions being made at every level of government in America--- VOTING!  That’s right--- voters determine WHO gets to make decisions for us.  WHO we put into office has a direct impact on WHAT happens to us---in almost every aspect of our lives from education, public health, laws, to our rights, roads, and other infrastructure issues. 


I am often amazed at the voter turnout---appalled is probably a better word.  According to polling data published on various websites, less than 10% of registered voters determined who held office in the last statewide election.  That is just 10% of the REGISTERED voters.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of Texans that are not even registered to vote.  As I noted in earlier statements, voter registration has ended for the mid-term elections coming up in November.  However, it is never too late to be engaged.  Moreover, if you are a registered voter---never pass up an opportunity to vote.  Vote in every election—no matter how big or small.  In fact, voting is the BEST way your voice translates into outcomes that matter to us all. 



There are many issues involving public education that will be voted on in the next legislative session.  These include determining how many state assessments your child or grandchild must take every year and how much money will be put into education to help pay for counselors, teachers, instructional materials, and technology.  Other important issues involve the teacher/educator retirement system and health insurance for all of those in the profession. 


So, what can we do? I came across a list of things that focus the thoughts and actions needed by all:

  1. Plan to vote—no excuses!  Study the issues and the candidates. 
  2. Be smart—don’t be fooled by slick campaigns and promising quotes
  3. After the election—plan to support those who are elected, but determine to educate, motivate, and push them to do what is necessary to support public education---it is in the constitution!
  4. Stay engaged--- after an election is over, people tend to let their enthusiasm for the issues dwindle.  After the election is when the work gets done---or not!  Stay engaged in the issues and demand that your voice be heard.  We must remind our legislators that our vote is our evaluation of the job they are doing. 


Democracy is grounded in the concept of the people voting and having a voice in the decisions made for the state and the nation.  Democracy will not work if the people do not vote; nor will it work if those who do vote are uneducated.  Therefore, it is easy to understand that educating ALL of our students is the foundation of our democracy. 


I urge you to bring the passion you have for our children, for our community, and for our public schools with you when you vote.  Thank you in advance for being an engaged citizen and for supporting Pampa public schools.  The children in our classrooms are the future and the decisions we make today will define that future for them. 


As always, we want you engaged in our schools.  We welcome your feedback, ideas, suggestions and we want to know your concerns.  We have a wonderful volunteer program—VIPs that will provide opportunities for you to engage in every aspect of the Pampa School system.  You are always welcome and we are always listening.  Give us a call at 669-4700 or visit our website at


Tanya Larkin, Pampa ISD Superintendent


Published on 10/19/2018

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