Charles, while I realize that Eye On Williamson may have its good points as a source of information on many things, it has become very clear that the education finance debate is not one of those things.
The "story" or, rather, extended propganda piece in Eye On Williamson about the effort to force school districts to spend %65 of their operating budgets in the classroom, on classroom education was just pure capital "D" distortion.
Let me state here in no uncertain terms: the demand that we should spend the greater proportion of our operating budgets in the classroom, on classroom education, originated with US and Texas teachers and has long been advocated by them, and this has as well long been a point of strong agreement between taxpayers and teachers groups.
It has now been 15 years since the first time I heard that Texas school administrators were wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on non-essential expenditures and short changing classroom education and teachers.
I did not hear that from a taxpayer group.
Local reps from our teachers organizations and their members introduced me to this long-standing problem with Texas public school administration and the issues surrounding at a meeting we had called to put together a campaign to get one of them elected to the school board.
Nationally, U. S. public school districts spend just under %62 in the classroom, while Texas spends just right at %50, and considering what the TEA describes as "classroom expenditures", %50 is a real stretch, as I pointed out very clearly and concisely in a previous comment on the topic.
I don't know what Eye On Williamson's interest is in all this, but the article cited was so very misleading, and sounds so much like the ridiculous assertions we've been hearing for years now from Texas public school administrators on this severe problem.
As a result I must ask Eye On for full disclosure of his or her's relationship to Texas public education.
Friday, February 6, 1998 SECTION: A; Pg. 1
Perry tape reveals new voucher stance
BY R.G. RATCLIFFE
(AUSTIN) -- Republican lieutenant governor candidate Rick Perry, a proponent
of local control of schools, was secretly tape-recorded last month saying he
will not let local education boards stand in the way of a private-school
"I will tell you point blank that I will not allow a local school board to
stop from allowing parental choice to happen in their community if it
becomes the law of the land in Texas," Perry told a meeting of Putting
Children First, a pro-voucher organization.
Perry's comments are a sharp contrast to statements he made to the Houston
Chronicle in October, when he said any voucher program would have to start
as a small-scale experiment at the option of a local school board.
Perry's campaign spokesman, Ray Sullivan, accused Democratic lieutenant
governor candidate John Sharp and his allies of using a "sleazy" campaign
tactic by secretly recording the speech and spreading the tape around the
Sullivan noted that Sharp also spoke to the pro-voucher group, but no one
was leaking tapes of his speech.
Sharp, the state's comptroller, has refused to rule out a private-school
voucher program. But Sharp has said he first wants to try to work with the
public school system to try to solve the problem of low-performing public
The tape also reveals Perry discussing political strategy with the
Perry, the state's agriculture commissioner, told the Putting Children First
meeting that he calls his program "parental choice" because "the word
voucher conjures up a negative thought process. As you all know, having the
right rhetoric is basic."
Perry said his program would allow students in low-performing public schools
to take the tax money spent on them and use it to transfer to another public
school, a private school or a religious school.
Sullivan said Perry's statements were not different from his October remarks
to the Chronicle, when he said that any voucher program would have to start
as a small-scale experiment at the option of school districts.
Perry said then, "The real key is these decisions be made at the local level
where the parents and the teachers and the local taxpayers and school board
will be making those decisions and not be mandated from some central
bureaucracy in Austin."
Sullivan said Perry intended those comments to apply to a full-scale voucher
program that would allow all public school students to use tax dollars to
pay for a private school education. Sullivan said giving parents a choice in
deciding how their children are educated is the ultimate local control.
Perry told Putting Children First, "I believe in local control."
But when asked about local school districts blocking the start of a voucher
program, Perry said, "If the local board cannot be trusted, then frankly we
have a tool in Texas that you may or may not be familiar with."
Perry went on to describe the Public Education Grant program, which allows
students in low-performing schools to obtain transfers to better performing
But only 43 students in four school districts throughout Texas used the PEG
program in the 1996-97 school year. The program has fallen short because
many school districts do not allow out-of-district transfers and many
students cannot afford to pay for their transportation to new schools.
There were 71 low-performing schools in Texas during the 1996-97 school
year, according to the Texas Education Agency. A low-performing school has
fewer than 35 percent of its students in any ethnic group pass the reading,
writing or math portions of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test or
has a dropout rate that exceeds 6 percent.
When Sharp discussed the voucher issue with the Chronicle in October, he
said he would require school districts to accept transfer students from
low-performing schools and pay for the student's transportation.
"I'm not talking about giving them (school districts) a choice. If you put a
low-performing school in there, you've got to move that child someplace
else," Sharp said.
"The first thing I'd like to see done is solve the problem in the public
sector. If you can't solve it in the public sector, I'm willing to look at
other alternatives," Sharp said.
Sullivan said the secret taping of Perry at a closed-door meeting was
"It is unbelievably sleazy," Sullivan said. "It questions his (Sharp's)
fitness for the office of lieutenant governor."
From the sound on the tape, the recorder likely was held beneath a table at
the meeting. Perry's voice is muffled, and through part of the tape the
sound of a wristwatch ticking can be heard.
Sharp spokesman Kelly Fero said Perry changed his position on local control
after taking almost $ 250,000 in campaign contributions last year from
pro-voucher individuals. Fero said the tape was spread around Austin by
"people who do not believe public schools should be for sale."
Putting Children First Chairman Jimmy Mansour issued a statement thanking
both Perry and Sharp for speaking at the meeting. Mansour said he also
believes Perry has been consistent in his position.
"We believe that Rick Perry has been very consistent in his support of
parental school choice and local control from day one," Mansour said.
"The issue is how do we give parents a greater say in the education of their
children," he said.
It's just incredible the way vehemently anti-taxpayer, pro-educrat liberals, like Kimberly and "d" above, rely on the distortions and lies foisted on the public by the Houston Chronicle's political reporters.
The Ratcliff "article" posted above is nothing more than a press release for John Sharp ( who was of course endorsed by the Chronicle) which inaccurately and misleadingly distorted Perry's position on vouchers.
This editorial comment by Ratcliff:
"Perry's comments are a sharp contrast to statements he made to the Houston
Chronicle in October, when he said any voucher program would have to start
as a small-scale experiment at the option of a local school board."
... was a complete distortion of Perry's position and the Chron knew it at the time.
The Chron's political reporting is just not taken seriously by the people of Texas, and the Austin bureau is one of the many reason why.