August 24, 2005
The sixty-five percent solution

Governor Perry can't fix how schools are financed, but he can tell them how to spend the money they have.

Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order Monday requiring schools to spend at least 65 percent of their tax money in the classroom because state lawmakers, he said, have failed to act.

Did someone remember to write down the date and time when the concept of "local control" was officially deleted from the Republican Party's list of guiding principles? You know, for posterity.

I'm not going to claim that there shouldn't be some regulations on how state money is spent. I do have to wonder why, after eight months of legislative activity, this order needed to be given now. If this is such an urgent need, why wasn't it given a higher priority? Think back on all the things that were loudly debated during Special SessionPalooza - property tax cuts, equity capture, teacher pay raises, textbooks, accountability, school board elections, uniform start date, etc etc etc. Where did this even come from?

Of course, maybe it's not such an urgent need:

Perry is giving school districts until the 2009-10 school year to phase in the 65 percent requirement. Schools that don't meet the threshold would face "tough sanctions," which have not yet been determined.

As The Jeffersonian points out, Rick Perry may not be governor in 2009, or if he is he may be a lame duck. How much support will this executive order have then?

That assumes, of course, that it even has the force of law to begin with:

[Richard Middleton, superintendent of San Antonio's North East School District,] called Perry's action "highly unusual" and expects that it will trigger a legal challenge.

Ah, what's one more school-related lawsuit at this point?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 24, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

I see the same problem with the Nat'l Republicans. Once a party is in power, it stops thinking Gov't should be smaller and starts thinking how it can run the show.

No Child Left Behind? A good idea, actually, to provide national standardized testing, but does the Federal Gov't have a role in education? What happened to local school boards and state departments of education?

Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on August 24, 2005 1:49 PM

"Local control" of Texas public schools is a myth.

Everyone involved in running them on the local level, from the boards to the supers to the administrators to the teachers to the district employees, the contractors and the suppliers have statewide organizations that pressure the state leg and the TEA for laws, regulations and policies that determine how local schools are financed and operated.

The state and federal courts as well as the federal government also play a major role in determining "local" policy.

Everything from tax policy to expenditure levels on physical plant to textbooks to teachers benefits to bus routes to district lines to the calories served in school lunches has been determined in Austin or DC --- by the leg, by the courts, by the TEA, and by the various aforementioned lobbies.

The educrats and the special interests who make a hefty profit from doing business with them don't give a wit about "local control", and have amply demonstrated this in every session of the leg for the last 30 years.

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 24, 2005 3:30 PM