Dan Patrick is a racist, lying, immigrant-hating, trans-dehumanizing bigot who knows nothing about Texas public schools.
It’s great to see him all smiles with our district leaders. And it’s wonderful to see that they have welcomed him into our community - the one in which we value the intrinsic humanity of all students and families.
How is such a man welcome in our schools? And why are our “progressive” elected officials posing - smiling! - with him as he uses our students - many of whom he has dehumanized and used as scapegoats for his own political purposes - as a PR opportunity?
It’s understandable that elected officials have to do a certain amount of political schmoozing, and, even that they sometimes have to walk a fine line with politicians with whom they disagree.
But these pictures should be troubling for all who believe in the shared humanity of all our students and families. Dan Patrick has made a career out of attacking immigrants - weaponizing hate for his own political gain. He’s a man who has frequently espoused exactly the kind of hateful - and false - rhetoric, replete with loaded vocabulary like “invasion”, and “replacement” that the El Paso shooter cited in his manifesto.
And while Greg Abbot has been, correctly, called-out for his anti-immigrant fundraising letters, here we have elected officials of a 90+% Latinx urban school district in Texas grinning as they share a stage with a man who has made statements like those below his political trademark.
Patrick has weaponized anti-immigrant sentiment during election campaigns, and he's never let the truth get in the way of a good base-baiting story. In fact, his anti-immigrant rhetoric is every bit as bad as his more famous counterpart in the White House.
Patrick has also been a key supporter of trans-phobic "bathroom bills" across the state:
And famously - and disgracefully - tweeted homophobic, hateful, and deeply dehumanizing messages after the 2016 mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando:
So why, we should ask, would our leaders allow a politician's hate-mongering to be ignored? Why should one issue - in this case the success of SAISD as a district in state accountability ratings - be the only one that those on stage are focused on? Why should Patrick be given a free pass for his hateful rhetoric, even as he walks into what is supposed to be the most welcoming, nurturing, and loving space we create together as a society? A space in which all children are welcomed, valued, and given the opportunity to learn?
It's. An. Elementary. School. Just about the most caring and loving place on Earth.
And why should our leaders not be held to a higher standard than to pose - grinning!! - for PR pictures with such a man?
If we juxtapose Patrick's xenophobic, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-immigrant statements with the pictures that resulted from this photo-op, the absurdity of his visit is clear:
Great! That's awesome Dan!
These elected leaders (and one unelected superintendent) of a community in which large numbers of our students, parents, and community members belong to undocumented or mixed-status families are soooooo thrilled to share this photo-op with you!
For many of us, in-state tuition is a life-line for our children, for the children of our neighbors, and for the students we love and support in classrooms across the city. We've celebrated that all Texas children have access to it, and the basic humanity of offering the same services to all young people regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, gender identity, or immigration status. That Patrick doesn't share this view with us should disqualify him from entering the places that so many of us build as havens and sanctuaries for our children and students.
But it gets worse (so much worse).
This is exactly the kind of "great replacement" rhetoric espoused by white supremacists around the country, and closely mirrors that of shooters in racist mass murders like the one in El Paso this year.
And look at the smiles! It looks like the best day of Steve "Student Bill of Rights" Lecholop's life! Patti "Westside" Radle looks like she might be holding his hand, or even hugging the big racist. Deborah-the-property-developer Guerrero looks like she knows that sweeping gentrification across the East Side will only speed up with this news - more profit for her! And Pedro "I only ever tell one story about my immigrant family" Martinez wears the grin to end all grins - beaming with pride at sharing this stage with such a man.
Patrick has politicized mass murder to score political points - here cynically using the deaths of overwhelmingly Latinx community members in El Paso to - falsely - attack the (constitutional) separation of church and state.
And he's repeatedly shown that he's willing to lie about inner-city schools - the very schools he's using for PR here - as he seeks election.
Worst of all, on this occasion, he was invited into an SAISD school with a bilingual program - one designed specifically to cater to the needs of non-native English speakers, exactly the families that Patrick has long used as political props in his hate-filled, power-hungry career.
Schools are not neutral spaces. The decision to serve and fully humanize all students in public schools is an intrinsically political one. And PR photo-ops aren't neutral either. They offer the opportunity for leaders and politicians to construct a backdrop against which to tell a story about themselves.
That Dan Patrick was welcomed into a bilingual program-offering SAISD school is appalling. That he was allowed to incorporate a backdrop of student success through the hard work of a loving community into his own individualistic political ambitions is shameful. That district leaders posed for PR shots with him is disgraceful.
These images should haunt them for the rest of their lives.