Education And The Texas Vote

 If this population was to be educated and the literacy rate was expanded, most would be able to make up their own minds on Election Day…and there would be little need for a party activist to mark their ballots. 

It isn’t too difficult to figure out.  The lack of a solid education produces a multitude of bad or unintended consequences.  Most people realize that those with the best educational background tend to have the better jobs, make more money, live in better homes, have better health care and many other plus factors in their lives that are not available to those who struggle at the low end of the economic ladder. 

If there were any interested academics that wanted to examine this topic in detail, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas would be the perfect petri dish for their scientific examination of poor education vs. poverty and economic plight. 

I actually started thinking about this due to an article I read written by my friend the Reverend Bill Reagan.  Bill is the executive director of a multi-church supported mission to care for those who are hungry, homeless and hurting.  Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley serves thousands of hot meals and offers thousands of warm bed-nights annually to those in need.  Each day he works among those who have little or no education. 

In his article Bill notes that 43 out of every 100 adults in our county lack the literacy skills that will allow them to read the daily newspaper.  Star County, also located in the Rio Grande Valley has a full 65% of it population unable to read or write.  Another shameful record is also held by the Lone Star State. Texas is dead last among all the states in the percentage of people who do not have a good educational base.  According to Literacy Texas only 19% of adults over the age of 25 have the skills to read a newspaper. 

Does this translate into how we live?  Of course, it does.  With a masters degree or doctorate a person can expect to earn $80,000 and higher each year.  Those with a bachelor’s degree average almost $55,000 annually.  A person with a high school diploma can expect about $29,500 a year.  People with less than a high school education earn an average of only $19,900 annually.  Using these figures and looking across the nation, it is estimated that low literacy levels are costing the American economy $225 billion a year.  In addition illiteracy is a strong predictor of involvement in criminal activities.  Eighty-five percent of those found in the juvenile justice system have been rated as functional illiterates. 

Examined from a political perspective the problem of illiteracy or low educational attainment is also significant.  Those who cannot read are forced to obtain all of their information from the electronic media.  This means they have a very small window for observing national affairs.  The left-leaning bias of our media outlets limits the illiterate in their view of politics and public service. 

Illiteracy also opens the door for those who would exploit this handicap.  It allows the political elite to tap into a reservoir of people who become dependent upon the government to meet their daily needs. 

Again, using the Rio Grande Valley as an example of an area open to political exploitation, the four counties, which form the tip of Texas, have a population of about 1 million people. A full 90% of this number is of Hispanic extraction.  Within that group more than 30% fall below the poverty level. 

The region is medically underserved and health concerns are enormous.  Forty one percent of the people have no health coverage.  Diabetes is almost at epidemic level.  Some communities have half of their population seeking a way to find medical help. 

Even more weight is added to the problem by both legal and illegal immigration.  Where most of Texas sees an annual population growth of ten to fifteen percent, the Rio Grande Valley now records more than a 30% annual population increase.  This stresses all public services almost to the breaking point.  In addition it fosters political hooliganism. 

For years the left leaning political movement has placed trained political activists in the poorest of Valley neighborhoods.  These people, who are paid by the number of people they get to the polls, recruit their own following of voters.  Those who have little education are encouraged to request absentee ballots.  When the ballots arrive these activist leaders “help” the recipients with their voting.  These same activists also arrange for their charges to attend the free food, drink and music “Pachanga” (party or bash) events of supported candidates for office.  Those not be able to read are instructed on where the single party voting lever on machines can be found or which block to mark on paper ballots.  On Election Day and even during early voting, their charges are picked up and delivered to the polls. 

Does any of this work?  In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas there are few individuals in public office who wear the Republican brand.  Carlos Coscos, Cameron County Judge is one of these rare GOP office holders.  However, for years when seeking public office, even he ran as a Democrat.  Democrats hold almost every office in the four counties making up the Valley, even though every statewide office, the Legislature and other Texas counties are and have been…Republican. 

All of this is explained to point out one simple truth.  If this population was to be educated and the literacy rate was expanded, most would be able to make up their own minds on Election Day…and there would be little need for a party activist to mark their ballots. 


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