Texas State Sen. Don Huffines (R) was caught on video shutting down a student for speaking out against a proposed stipend for sending kids to private schools.
Her point: Low-income families cannot enroll their children in private schools with that amount.
However, the senator was adamant the proposal will divert money from public schools into education savings accounts, which students can use to attend private schools.
It probably would not have been a big deal had he explained it that way. Instead, the way he responded to the student, who was visiting from Richardson school district in Texas, was completely inappropriate and uncalled for.
“Do you want me to give them $15,000? Is that what you want? So they can all go to Hockaday, so they can all go to St. Mark’s?” he asked, referring to two expensive private institutes.
The video above starts with an angry Huffines saying people who wanted to send the kids in their districts to public schools were “selfish.”
“What are you scared of?” he demanded. “What are you scared of? What are all y’all scared of?”
Someone in the crowd responded by saying the money the senator and his fellow Republicans want to give to private schools should instead be used for improving public schools.
“What makes you think it isn’t? What makes you think it’s your money?” Huffines asked. “It’s the businesses that pay 62 percent of all property taxes.”
The Republican completely lost his cool at the question that the proposed stipend would only give about $5,000 to parents for their children’s education — which is not enough.
After the distressing incident, the Democrats rightfully reminded the Republican senator in a statement that his job was not to disrespect students but to ensure free public schools for them.
“The job of a Texas legislator is to guarantee a free public school system so that every child can reach their God-given potential. It is a constitutional obligation they all swore to uphold,” read a statement from Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “Nowhere in the job description of a Texas senator does it say to be disrespectful and rude to Texas students and their concerned parents who are demanding their fair shot to get ahead.”
The senator later expressed regret over the tone he used towards the student.
“While the policy was right, Senator Huffines’ tone and delivery today did not live up to the level of civil discourse that he always expects of himself and others," Huffines spokesman Matt Langston said in a statement.
He also apologized for his tone but remained firm on the suggested proposal.
"My tone and approach yesterday were out of line and I'm sorry for engaging in a heated debate with that group," Huffines said, "However, I will not apologize for defending a policy that will benefit students, parents and schools in the State of Texas."
People have expressed disappointment over his behavior.
@DonHuffines Why are you afraid of a bunch of eighth graders you corporate stooge?— Robobbotron (@whoisbobbydavis) February 28, 2017
@DonHuffines your constituents, not businesses, elected you & you work for them, not corporate America! Hope you get the boot next time!— Amber Williams (@Abwills97) February 28, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Creative Commons, Gage Skidmore