March 11, 2014

Dan Patrick: Bad for Texas, very bad for Texas schools

In this in-depth op-ed interview in the Waco Herald-Tribune, Bonnie Lesley and Linda Ethridge of Texas Kids Can't Wait discuss the state of educational affairs in Texas.

Here's the nut graf of the header, though there's many nut grafs in the whole piece. From Lesley:
About a third of the House and about a fourth of the Senate we rated as unacceptable. These are the folks who are the real hardliners. Particularly in the Senate, there were a number of people who got minus points they were so bad. The very worst of both chambers was state Sen. Dan Patrick.
The pair notes, with sadness and no irony, that Patrick was, in last year's Legislature, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Why are he and others unacceptable?

Among other things, for giving blank checks to charter schools.

Those blank checks, some deliberate at this time, some already in place by the nature of charter schools, are:
1. Selective admission, including not having to admit students with physical or mental handicaps, ESL needs and more.
2. Like the Federal Reserve, wanting to be public institutions when it's beneficial, and private when that's beneficial. The biggest claim on the privacy side is trying to dodge the Open Records Act.
3. Lack of elected school boards, and refusal to make this a requirement.
4. Little curriculum oversight, including teaching of creationist-based pseudoscience at some charter schools.

Rick Perry likes to boast about Texas as a job creation state, while his detractors rightly note many of those jobs are at or near minimum wage and without health benefits. Well, with foxes like Patrick guarding the educational henhouse, we know why.

Next, they look at school finance, starting by dispelling the common assumption that last year's Lege "fixed the damage" from the previous one:
I think a lot of people thought the money they put in fixed it, but it didn’t. We’re still billions of dollars behind. The $5.4 billion (cut in the 2011-12 biennium) is gone forever and we didn’t even get that much back, plus we keep adding 85,000 kids (to Texas schools) a year. And if you look at the charter schools, without all the new ones that are coming on board that the Legislature approved, charters altogether cost the state some $1.6 billion this year in resources that otherwise would be public school money.
In other words, we're not even treading water; we're just drowning more slowly.

That's not counting the money being pounded down the charter school rathole.

That's not the only shocker. The unidentified interviewer says at least one member of the Lege doesn't know how school finance works. And openly admitted that.

Oy.

Go read the whole piece. It's good.

No comments: