The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 272
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the like, and they were more inclined than others to use statistical data
to support their positions.
Apart from the profusion of words that overwhelmed the proceed-
ings, the conference did have two foci, one opposing the other: distress
and optimism. There was distress that oil had fallen to $13 a barrel and
thus that the state's fundamental economy was threatened, and there
was optimism that another source of wealth was at hand. It was con-
ceded by just about everyone that education would be the new fiscal
lubricant. As one reads the comments, almost giddy in their enthusi-
asm, one breathes the air of oppressive cheerfulness that hung heavily
perhaps because the distress seems a bit premature, but probably more
because the optimism seems so extravagantly overweening. Neverthe-
less, with few exceptions, such was the collective temper, and when the
idea got going, there was no stopping it. By the forum's adjournment, it
was the tune that everyone whistled.
Enthusiasm of this sort is to be expected from politicians, who, by
temper if not by vice, habitually seek the deus ex machina; or from
journalists, who, because of their limited knowledge of almost every-
thing, have a tendency to be gullible about almost anything; or even
businessmen, who realize perhaps better than anyone else the impor-
tance of internally created wealth. In this case, however, it was, unfor-
tunately, the educators in their relentless and uncritical enthusiasm
who proved to be the most disappointing of the lot. At the suggestion
of public expenditure for educational purposes they go into sort of a
feeding frenzy. They also become the most flagrant poseurs. Their first
pretense is that they know something about education; their second is
that they are educational altruists. Educators expounding on their
understanding of education has become profitable of late and possibly
the biggest growth industry in Texas since Billy Sol Estes peddled his
fertilizer tanks. Both have about the same currency. To be sure, histo-
rians know something about history, sociologists know something about
sociology, and chemists know something about chemistry, but educa-
tion is as foreign to most of them as are the mountains of the moon.
Perhaps the only ones less qualified to elaborate upon education are
those who teach in schools of education. Knowledge, as water, simply
does not exceed the level of the container.
For the conference's various participants, however, education was
universally and uncritically touted as the elixir to cure the state's ills. Of
course, money was the tonic's secret ingredient, and in a remarkable
metamorphosis, many of the distinguished leaders began to resemble
snake oil salesmen. It was by then a very short but a very convinced step
to the source of all funding in what was otherwise conceded to be an
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/312/: accessed September 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.