As published by the Texas Tribune in Trib Talk
What if I told you there’s a growing group of candidates, legislators, lobbyists and political activists who are proposing a new entitlement program that could cost Texans up to $5 billion per year over the next 10 years?
Under the proposed program, each eligible recipient would receive thousands of dollars annually, and by federal law we couldn’t even ask if they’re legal citizens. Once in the program, they could receive the benefits for 13 or more years.
You might say that this couldn’t be possible because conservative Republicans run our state, right?
Wrong. Because, as they say, money talks.
Well-funded special interests are vigorously pushing to take away funding from your public schools to pay for their religious schools, chains of for-profit private and virtual schools, and elite private academies.
Political action committees are giving millions of dollars to selected Texas candidates in exchange for pledges of support for education privatization schemes. They seek to funnel your tax dollars to for-profit and religious schools that have been around for years and chains of new schools that will spring up in communities considered good “markets.” The proposals would prohibit asking how these private interests are going to spend the billions of tax dollars, would not require any reporting of academic test results, and would not provide any accountability or transparency to taxpayers.
Lobbyists and special interest groups seeking the privatization of our public schools are already writing op-ed pieces and blogging misleading statistics about public schools in Texas. They use data that is 10 years old, reports from the Chicago and Washington, D.C., school systems, and carefully scrubbed statistics to mislead the public. They want to scare you into believing that our neighborhood schools are teaching controversial and un-American curriculum designed to brainwash our children, yet their proposals would allow the teaching of Common Core and other unapproved curriculum without state oversight.
But Texans know better, parents know better, students know better, and the business community knows better.
Texas’ high school graduation rates are at an all-time high and rank near the top nationally (second only to Iowa), we’re setting the pace on standardized test scores, and the choices and opportunities that we’re providing to our students are so broad that school districts are holding parent-training sessions to help them choose what’s best for their child.
Even Chuck DeVore, vice president of policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has embraced “school choice” policies, wrote in his 2013 book, The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America, that based on recent standardized test scores, Texas is “first in six of nine categories and second in another. … This stands in stark contrast to the myriad critics who keep repeating, falsely, that Texas’ educational system is horrific and failing.”
Texas parents can choose from over 8,000 public schools, more than 550 charter schools, magnet schools, open-enrollment campuses, dual-credit programs, early-college high schools and many others. In addition, roughly 400,000 students were eligible for a Public Education Grant last year to transfer out of their low-performing schools — all at no cost to the parents, and all accountable and transparent to taxpayers.
And all this despite a reduction in funding for our public schools of about $1.75 billion over the last five years and an enrollment increase of over 400,000 students.
So with election season upon us, the voters of Texas must ask their elected officials and candidates whether they support the creation of a new $5 billion private school entitlement — or whether they’ll stand with taxpayers and demand accountability and transparency for our public school dollars. As for me, I stand with the students, parents and taxpayers of Texas in support of our public and charter schools.
The Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD Council of PTA’s has honored Rep. Ratliff with one of the highest honors that can be bestowed by the Texas PTA, an Honorary Life Membership, for his outstanding service to children and youth. The PTA recognized Rep. Ratliff for his service as a school volunteer, business mentor, school board trustee and state representative with a 20 year record of commitment to public schools. “I am truly humbled to be presented this honor and thank the hard working members of the PTA for their service to our children and the future of Texas” said Rep. Ratliff, “and I look forward to working with you for many years to come to continue to make our public schools great.”
This spring, Representative Ratliff has been honored to have the opportunity to speak to students about Texas government, current political issues and the importance of voting. Dr. Parker Hevron, Political Science Professor at TWU, invited Rep. Ratliff to talk about elections and current political issues in Texas with his undergraduate political science students, and Marisa Garza, a senior at New Tech High School in Coppell ISD, invited Rep. Ratliff to speak to graduating seniors about the importance of voting as part of her graduation capstone project. ”I’m always honored to speak to students about the Texas Legislative process and their duty to express their opinion on election day” said Rep. Ratliff. If your class would like to have Rep. Ratliff speak to you about the Texas Legislature, please contact us.
Rep. Ratliff was named the Honorary Chairman of the State Mathcounts competition in Austin on March 22, 2014. Mathcounts is a nationwide program that promotes math excellence for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and combines the efforts of the education, business, government and the technological communities. It is a math skills coaching program based on higher thinking skills development with a series of progressive competitions at local, state and national levels. It motivates students to do well in math and recognizes and rewards them for achievement. The program also gives the math teachers an incentive to excel in their classrooms.
Rep. Ratliff said “I am proud to be involved in the Mathcounts program to encourage and recognize great students to excel in math skills that will serve them well in their future. The teachers and coaches of the teams do an exceptional job preparing their students, the ‘mathletes’, for the competition and for success in STEM classes. I was honored to be involved in the competition and recognize the winners.”
Rep. Bennett Ratliff, P.E. has been named as 2013 Distinguished Engineer by the Texas Engineering Foundation of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers in Recognition of his distinguished service to the Engineering Profession. Rep. Ratliff stated “I am truly honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers in the engineering profession for this prestigious honor”.
The final votes have been tallied, the results are now final and the voters in the Republican primary have selected Matt Rinaldi to be their candidate in the general election in November. I have reached out to Mr. Rinaldi to congratulate him and wished him the best moving forward.
I sincerely appreciate the support and encouragement of my friends, colleagues and supporters across the district and the State who worked so hard during this campaign and stood with us and for us and our community. I have been honored to represent you, and Beccy and I have been humbled by your kindness, friendship and trust. We remain committed to our shared conservative values; our common sense of purpose to our friends, neighbors and community; and continuing to make Texas the beacon of hope for our country.
It has been my honor to walk into the Capitol of our great state and serve you during my term, and I will continue to work for you through the end of this year. Please let us know if we may be of any assistance and we look forward to seeing you around town sometime soon.
God Bless Texas,
The North Texas Crime Commission has honored Representative Bennett Ratliff with the “Crime Fighter of the Year” Award for his work in the 83rd Legislative Session. Rep. Ratliff thanks the law enforcement community for this honor and for their service to protect and serve the citizens of Texas.
“In his first term, Ratliff, 52, proved himself capable of important work as an emerging leader in the House. A civil engineer by trade, Ratliff landed heavyweight committee assignments on Appropriations and Public Education, and put his shoulder behind the toughest issues, including school funding and infrastructure questions.
The website Capitol Inside named him among the most influential freshmen; Texas Monthly chose him as the freshman most likely to succeed.
Importantly for his district, Bennett displays a deeper, more realistic grasp of the issues, as with his pragmatic approaches to education and transportation funding, compared with the ideologically driven Rinaldi. Ratliff stands firmly in the GOP’s problem-solving wing, Rinaldi in the Ted Cruz wing. Political theology is a valuable starting point for a candidate, but an actual officeholder needs more to be effective.” – Dallas Morning News
Read the entire Dallas Morning News Editorial HERE
“Representative Ratliff has a proven track record on the issues that have made Texas the envy of the nation and the best place to live, work and raise a family. From fighting against higher taxes and federal government overreach, to balancing a budget and working to promote education, water and transportation infrastructure, Representative Ratliff has a record that will keep our economy growing and keep Texans working. Bennett Ratliff has stood tall for Texas, and we are proud to stand with him,” said Luke Bellsnyder, Keep Texas Working PAC Treasurer.
“Manufacturing is a driving engine of the Texas economy and we proudly support candidates who consistently work to keep manufacturing in Texas strong,” said Tony Bennett, President of the Texas Association of Manufacturers. “Representative Ratliff has been tireless in his efforts to advance a strong manufacturing climate in Texas and he’s the right choice for his district.”
“In his first term as a lawmaker in 2013, Bennett Ratliff served with distinction on the Texas House Appropriations Committee and the Public Education Committee,” said Carolyn Boyle, Texas Parent PAC chair. “Bennett proved he has the expertise to address school finance reform and other complex issues, and he earned the respect of his legislative peers and constituents.”
“Bennett Ratliff is the pro-public education candidate in this primary race,” said Texas Parent PAC Vice-Chair Dinah Miller of Dallas. “He understands how a world-class education can prepare children to be successful in work and life.” Miller said parents especially appreciated that he was an articulate advocate for children with disabilities.
TMPA, the state’s largest law enforcement association, CLEAT, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, and the Dallas Police Officers Association have endorsed Rep. Bennett Ratliff (Coppell) in his bid for re-election to House District 115 for the Texas House of Representatives.
Lon Craft, Director of Legislative Affairs of TMPA says that after interviewing Bennett Ratliff and polling law enforcement officers from the area, they are convinced that he is the best man for the job. “We are confident that he will continue to be a strong voice for law enforcement in the Texas Legislature, a staunch defender of the Constitution and as tough as nails on crime.” Craft said.
“We need Bennett Ratliff’s tough on crime attitude, dedication and staunch defense of the constitution working for us in the Texas Legislature.” Craft said. “Therefore it is without hesitation that we whole-heartedly support him in his re-election bid to the Texas House.”
The NRA Political Victory Fund has announced that Representative Ratliff has received an A rating and the endorsement of the NRA for reelection in the 2014 election. The endorsement letter states that Rep. Ratliff’s “…rating and endorsement are based on…your strong record of support for issues of importance to gun owners and sportsmen in the Texas Legislature.”
Alice Tripp, Legislative Director for the Texas Rifle Association PAC, writes “The Political Action Committee of the Texas State Rifle Association…is pleased to announce to its members and all Texans that you are the “A” rated and endorsed candidate for the 2014 election cycle.…based on your voting record and continued support for 2nd Amendment rights…”