Texas Republicans: Making Texas Schools and Texas Cities Unmanageable

This grift is happening in all Republican states, but especially Texas, where we just watched fascism ascend in the 87th Texas Legislature.

I believe the 87th Texas Legislature featured the ascendance of a brand American fascism that had heretofore been constrained by business and libertarian factions in the Texas GOP.

The law enables him to essentially operate as a dictator, and Greg Abbott is beginning to do just that.

Source: Grits for Breakfast: In what world are mask mandates too draconian but COVID justifies massive law enforcement deployments and new detention camps for migrants? Oh yeah: Greg Abbott’s Texas

Two of the main targets of this ascending fascism are public education and blue cities.

The GOP base in Texas includes totalitarian, racist elements which lately have been swirling in a near-policy-free furor of anger and resentment. By engaging with libertarian factions and more compassionate elements in the religious wing of the party, I’ve argued in innumerable trainings and funder conversations, the criminal-justice reform movement in Texas was attempting to “blunt the spear tip of American fascism.”

In 2021, the spear tip was unsheathed and thrust deep into the body politic: A combination of the pandemic, President Trump’s defeat, and the January 6th insurrection seem to have finally awakened the beast. This was the year the far-right wing of the party finally got its wish list they’d been denied in the 20 years since Republicans took power in Texas: The entire legislative session was about abortion, guns, jingoism, and “backing the blue.” Compassionate conservatism and non-gun-themed libertarianism were more or less banned from the building, or at least the eastern wing.

The Texas House, with a larger, more ideologically diverse membership, retains a broader array of Republicans that still includes some “small government” and/or “compassionate” types. They managed to pass several significant criminal justice reform bills, but virtually nothing of consequence made it through the senate. Reforms with overwhelmingly positive, bipartisan polling numbers like reducing marijuana penalties and ending arrest/jail for Class C non-jailable traffic offenses could never even get committee hearings on the eastern side of the building. Instead Sen. Joan Huffman wasted weeks on a failed effort to gerrymander appellate courts to rescind recent Democratic gains.

Some of this lurch toward totalitarianism was overt and ham-handed, perhaps most notably legislation to require sports teams to play the Star Spangled Banner. More insidious were attempts to control historical narratives about race and slavery in Texas schools and museums. These efforts were as shameful as they were transparently authoritarian. We’re just a step or two away from parading historians through the streets in dunce caps.

Perhaps the most subtly fascist influence radiating out of this session was HB 1900, ostensibly punishing cities that “defund police.” Large cities and counties henceforth must prioritize spending on law enforcement, leaving roads, parks, social services, or any other traditional municipal functions to wither in a time of massive urban growth.

Grits believes the purpose here is both political and dystopian: Texas’ large cities are now almost all (but Fort Worth) run by Democrats. So the Governor and his allies aim to make cities un-manageable, then blame Democrats for mismanaging them.

Also: Grits for Breakfast: Fascism Unsheathed: Let’s be very clear about what just happened at the #txlege

The grift is effective. We’re trying a nearby private school for one of our kids this year. This school has mask and vaxx policies aligned with pluralism and public health instead of Christian alt facts and sadopopulism. It isn’t as beholden to the laws forcing Texas public schools into a showdown with the state.

All means all.

Free, life-changing, and available everyone.

Texas Republicans are using a pandemic to accelerate the trashing of public education and the breaking of those promises. I’m heartbroken and pissed.

Previously:

Texas Republicans: Upholding White Supremacist Mythology with the Power of Law

Republicans in the Texas House passed a bill Tuesday that effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events.

Source: Texas GOP Passes Bill To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism | HuffPost

Texas is awash in bills aimed at fending off critical examinations of the state’s past.

Source: Texas Eyes Laws to Limit Teaching Slavery in Classrooms – The New York Times

The Republican Party habitually inverts American history and the moral universe while quelling speech about actual American history. I grew up in Texas public education. We learned the Southern Strategy, the Confederate Catechism, the Lost Cause, and the Traditional Segregationist Discourse. We were taught a pile of racist, revisionist nonsense. I still recall a 7th grade history teacher yelling at us for saying the Civil War was about slavery, drilling “states’ rights” into us instead. Texas schools teach such white supremacist mythology to this day.

Critical Race Theory, a bogeyman and straw man for White evangelicals and the GOP, is rooted in Traditional Civil Rights Discourse. Both are necessary parts of K-12 curriculum. “The Front Porch” has a great series on CRT framed for White Christians that I wish my toxic Christian representatives would read in good faith.

But there is not a drop of good faith in my Republican representatives, nor in groups like the College Republicans, who direct the conservative outrage machine against institutions who haven’t hardened against it, resulting in the firing of journalists, teachers, and professors.

If you belong to, report on, or teach about a marginalized group, you’re an “activist” who will be harassed and hounded out of work.

Institutions must harden against Republican bad faith and protect us as we tell the truth and lay bare the mythology.

Previously,

“Autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.”

Hyper-plasticity predisposes us to have strong associative reactions to trauma. Our threat-response learning system is turned to high alert. The flip side of this hyper-plasticity is that we also adapt quickly to environments that are truly safe for our nervous system.

The stereotypes of meltdowns and self-harm in autism come from the fact that we frequently have stress responses to things that others do not perceive as distressing. Because our unique safety needs are not widely understood, growing up with extensive trauma has become our default.

Because of our different bio-social responses to stimulus, autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.

Source: Discovering a Trauma-Informed Positive Autistic Identity | by Trauma Geek | Medium

“Autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.”

“We also adapt quickly to environments that are truly safe for our nervous system.”

That really resonates and calls to mind this passage of mine from “Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism”:

Since reading NeuroTribes, I think of psychologically & sensory safe spaces suited to zone work as “Cavendish bubbles” and “Cavendish space”, after Henry Cavendish, the wizard of Clapham Common and discoverer of hydrogen. The privileges of nobility afforded room for his differences, allowing him the space and opportunity to become “one of the first true scientists in the modern sense.”

Let’s build psychologically safe homes of opportunity without the requirement of nobility or privilege. Replace the trappings of the compliance classroom with student-created context, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and BYOC (Bring/Build Your Own Comfort). Let’s hit thrift stores, buy lumber, apply some hacker ethos, and turn the compliance classroom into something psychologically safe and comfortable to a team of young minds engaged in passion-based learning. Inform spaces with neurodiversity and the social model of disability so that they welcome and include all minds and bodies. Provide quiet spaces for high memory state zone work where students can escape sensory overwhelm, slip into flow states, and enjoy a maker’s schedule. Provide social spaces for collaboration and camaraderie. Create cave, campfire, and watering hole zones. Develop neurological curb cuts. Fill our classrooms with choice and comfort, instructional tolerance, continuous connectivity, and assistive technology.

In other words, make space for Cavendish. Make spaces for both collaboration and deep work.

Source: Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism

There isn’t much psychological or sensory safety to be found in schools or workplaces. I spent a lifetime trying and ended up helping start a fully distributed company built on written communication so I could work from home in a sensory space and communication culture curated to my needs.

Create Cavendish space in our schools and workplaces. Create safety accessible to autistic people. Neurological pluralism makes for good, universal design.

Previously,