Hon. Gov. Perry,

I would like to take a moment to write to you about public education in Texas. I have a PhD in Nuclear Physics. Twenty years ago, when I was in grad school, about half my graduating class, maybe less, were Americans. The rest were Indians, Chinese, Africans, Europeans. My school was enrolling every qualified, capable student it could find, and there just weren't enough Americans who were interested or capable of pursueing a career in Physics. Exactly zero of the students were African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans. This is not to say that school admissions were racist: There were plenty of Africans, from Africa, and Hispanics, from Spain and elsewhere, in my class. I think my school was quite typical of Physics and Math grad schools around the nation. What I am trying to say is that mainstream American culture is not very good at producing engineers and scientists, and the African-American and Hispanic-American communities are a whole lot worse.

I am now working as a computer professional for a large employer in Texas. Many of my co-workers are fearful for loosing thier jobs to off-shoring in India, China, and Eastern Europe. The company already employs thousands in India, and a portion of my project area's software design and testing is done in China. My co-workers should be fearful: I find that some of the Indians and Chinse are as capable, or even more capable, and can be gotten for a far lower salary. I've also discovered that my co-workers education was not as good as my own; I was lucky to go to good schools and have good teachers.

I have two children in grade school. They'll be entering the job market in about twenty years. By then, I fully expect that much of American high-tech will have been exported to other countries, much as America steel and auto manufacturing was a few decades ago, or as American semi-conductor engineering and manufacturing moved off-shore a decade ago. What career advice should I give to my children? Become an M.D.? That's being off-shored to India already. Become a lawyer? Specialize in local laws. Get an MBA, become an industrialist? That may require a ten-year stint in China as the VP of an American company. Be a star, move to Hollywood? or Bollywood? Learn to flip burgers? Don't think so: by then, Honda and Mitsubishi will have robots that will flip burgers *and* work the cash register, all at the same time. See, they've already got robots that can walk and talk, today. Even if my children turn out to be brilliant and wildly successful, they'll still have trouble, because thier fellow Americans will be a bit dumber, a bit stupider, then thier foreign-educated peers.

It is with these thoughts that I urge you to focus your attentions on the Texas public school system, and not shirk away from a duty to reverse a trend that, left unchecked, will destroy America.

Linas Vepstas
March 2004

p.s. I know that the dollars are there: Texans annually spend more on thier cars then on thier children. A whole lot more, if you count the money spent on TV car advertising and roadway construction. I'm afraid that we're trading the future of our nation for a pleasent drive-about-town today.