March 16, 2009
More on the end of the sixty-five percent rule

Here's an updated story on the end of the sixty-five percent rule.

Gov. Rick Perry's 4-year-old mandate that schools spend at least 65 percent of their money on classroom instruction is under fire from key lawmakers in Perry's own party.


House Public Education Committee Chairman Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, filed legislation last week to erase the requirement. And though Perry defended the standard as the right thing to do at the time, he said he's working with Eissler to come up with "new ideas to make our schools even more efficient."

Eissler said he filed House Bill 2262 because the standard has not been feasible for districts that vary in enrollment and geographic size.

"There are better ways to measure instructional priorities," Eissler said. "Why don't we look at the school districts that are doing the best and see how they're spending the money?"

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said she also wants to repeal Perry's order. "Many of the school districts cannot meet that mandate," Shapiro said. "There are so many other activities and so many other things that are not included in that 65 percent that it skews the numbers."

Perry and his staff did not criticize the rule as strongly as Eissler and Shapiro. Allison Castle, a Perry spokeswoman, said he wants to scrap it only if it can be replaced with something that "maintains or strengthens the goals of the 65 percent rule."

Perry used a 2005 executive order to put the rule in place after lawmakers failed in their regular session and two special sessions that year to change the state's school finance system. "Even though the Legislature did not act, I will," he said then.

And thus the handed down from on high approach failed miserably. If Rick Perry had cared about finding a way to achieve his goal in a way that met the needs of a broad and diverse body of school districts, we might now be measuring the progress of the legislation that resulted from that effort. But he chose to take the easy way out, and so four years later we have to start all over again. Well, to paraphrase a buddy of his, governoring is hard work. Clearly, we've got to manage our expectations.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2009 to Budget ballyhoo
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