Letter parallels ‘Alamo’ missive
The historic event was the fall of the Alamo, after a famous letter from William Barret Travis pleading for reinforcements failed to produce them in time to defend the fortress from Santa Anna’s Mexican troops.
The current event is the apparent intention of Gov. Rick Perry to cut spending for schools rather than raise taxes, or use the Rainy Day Fund for the 2012-13 budget.
Below is the open letter that John Kuhn, superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, sent to legislators who represent the area north of Mineral Wells on US 281.
Kuhn spoke passionately, and read his letter, at a March 12 capitol rally of more than 10,000 education advocates protesting Perry’s apparent intention to push even more responsibility for school funding from the state to the local level.
At the end of this column is Travis’s original letter from 1836.
To: Senator Estes, Representative Hardcastle, Representative Keffer, and Representative King during these grave times:
Gentlemen, I am besieged, by a hundred or more of the Legislators under Rick Perry. I have sustained a continual Bombardment of increased high-stakes testing and accountability-related bureaucracy and a cannonade of gross underfunding for 10 years at least and have lost several good men and women.
The ruling party has demanded another round of pay cuts and furloughs, while the school house be put to the sword and our children’s lunch money be taken in order to keep taxes low for big business.
I am answering the demand with a (figurative) cannon shot, and the Texas flag still waves proudly from our flag pole. I shall never surrender the fight for the children of Perrin.
Then, I call on you my legislators in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch.
The enemy of public schools is declaring that spending on a shiny new high-stakes testing system is “non-negotiable”; that, in essence, we must save the test but not the teachers. The enemy of public schools is saying that Texas lawmakers won’t raise 1 penny in taxes in order to save our schools.
If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and fight for the kids in these classrooms like an educator who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his community. Make education a priority!
With all due respect and urgency,
John Kuhn, Superintendent, Perrin-Whitt CISD
In contrast to Gov. Perry’s “me no Alamo” assertion that state officials weren’t responsible for firing or hiring any teachers, a previous Republican Texas governor, during the oil bust in 1987, signed a tax increase of $5.7 billion. That would be about $11.7 billion in today’s dollars – about half of the estimated shortfall in the 2012-13 budget.
Gov. Bill Clements had pledged to veto any tax increase higher than 2.9 billion. But then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and then-House Speaker Gib Lewis visited Clements at the governor’s mansion to plead that he step up for the school kids. Present was top Clements aide George Bayoud, who Hobby described as “the voice of reason.”
Hobby said he and Lewis left unsure what Clements would do. But Clements signed the largest tax bill in Texas history.
Among legislators who voted for that bill was then-State Rep. Rick Perry – back when he was a Democrat.
Travis’s 1836 letter:
Commandancy of the Alamo------
Bejar Fby. 24th 1836
To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world------
Fellow citizens & compatriots------
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna ----- I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man ----- The enemy has demanded a Surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken ----- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the wall ----- I shall never Surrender or retreat
Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch ----- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country ----- Victory or Death
William Barret TravisLt. Col. Comdt
P. S. The lord is on our side- When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn--- We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves---
And So On. . . . To hear Superintendent Kuhn’s capitol speech, search on the internet for “Perrin-Whitt John Kuhn Alamo.”
Contact McNeely at email@example.com or (512) 458- 2963.