Jimmie Don Aycock, a Repubilcan legislator from Killeen, Texas, has decided to retire from the House of Representatives in the state legislature. This is a great loss for the state’s children, because Aycock has been a great friend and defender of public schools. As chair of the House Education Committee, he tried to get a new funding formula that would fairly distribute state monies, without waiting for a court to declare the state’s formula to be unconstitutional. He has delayed, diverted, and stopped many efforts by ideologues to harm public education, whether by vouchers, parent trigger, or other devious means that would siphon money away from the public schools.
Before entering the legislature, Jimmie Don Aycock was a veterinarian and a rancher. He was also a graduate of his local public school in Bell County, and he served on the local school board. He will be fondly remembered by parents, educators, and perhaps even students, as the author of SB5, the bill that reduced the number of end-of-course exams required for high school graduation from 15 to 5.
Even if the children never heard his name, they have benefited from his wisdom and care for them. He is admired by both parties as a statesman, a man who really does put children first. One of his Democratic colleagues said that “he’s the kind of guy you’d buy a used car from, and wouldn’t look under the hood.” Certainly the children of Texas and public schools benefited from the fact that a member of the dominant party in red state Texas was their champion.
Will anyone else in the Texas legislature take on Jimmie Don Aycock’s role as a defender of the precious democratic institution of public education? Will anyone else take the lead to stop the evisceration and privatization of public education? The Lt. Governor, former radio host Dan Patrick, is an outspoken proponent of vouchers. Until now, a bipartisan coalition of big-city Democrats and rural Republicans have defended their community’s public schools. Will another Jimmie Don Aycock rise from the ranks?
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Aycock when I spoke in Austin to a combined meeting of the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas School Boards Association. He is a respected and beloved figure in Texas. With all the honors being heaped on him, this may not mean much, but I place him on the blog honor roll as a hero of public education in the nation.