At the Texas Capitol last night, I was among a group of librarians, booksellers, parents, and one amazing eighth grader who testified — many of us after waiting more than ten hours — to the Senate Education Committee in opposition to House Bill 900.
Here is my testimony:
My name is Chris Barton. I’m a lifelong Texan and an author of nonfiction books for children, including What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?, a biography of one of your predecessors in the Texas Senate, the great Barbara Jordan.
I’m also the grandson of a Texas Tech football player turned Texas high school football coach, the great—to me—Raymond “Whacker” Barton.
If a parent has a problem with the way a particular Texas high school football coach calls his plays, the solution would not be to create a statewide series of bureaucratic hoops for all Texas coaches to jump through before deciding what to do on fourth and one.
If a parent has a problem with the way a particular Texas high school football coach handles his team’s gear, the solution would not be to impose expensive and impractical requirements on each and every vendor of shoulder pads or helmets or socks or jocks.
If a parent has a problem with the way a Texas high school football coach does his job, the solution is to let that play out at the local level, not through onerous statewide legislation.
Why should it be any different for Texas school librarians — who are highly educated, experienced in the classroom, and bolstered by ongoing training and development — unless this is just a case of the State of Texas treating school librarians with less professional respect because they are primarily women?
As I wrote of Barbara Jordan’s time in the Texas Senate, “When it works right, the system makes laws that improve our lives.” HB900 will make life worse for educators, businesses, and the young Texas readers they serve.
But I also wrote of Barbara Jordan’s service to her fellow Texans, “When they listened to what each other had to say, they could hear what was important to them, and it helped them all do a better job.” Please listen to what Texas librarians have to say, so that it can help you do a better job, too.