It’s amazing me how little Texans care if corporations waste their money. If the same thing was happening, and it was a state agency doing it, you’d better believe all the government haters on the right would be screaming. But since it’s the corporations that bankroll their campaigns, think tanks, and PACs that are wasting tax payer money, they don’t seem to mind.
It’s also clear from this Texas Tribune article that privatization corruption is common in Texas. This is a record of ineptitude that’s striking, In State Contracting, Failure is an Option.
Over the past two decades, Texas has pursued a wave of privatization of public functions with the belief that corporations could save taxpayer money while improving the delivery of essential government services. But multiple contracts representing billions in public dollars have blown up in the state’s face, prompting lawsuits, ethics investigations, wasted funds and frustrated Texans.
The pattern that emerges is one of famously business-friendly Texas repeatedly fumbling its efforts to hold the businesses it hires accountable. [Emphasis added]
An audit released Wednesday found a lack of due diligence with 46 of 53 contracts tested at the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. Before that, 12 of 14 audits conducted between 2012 and 2014 of various programs found weaknesses in contracting oversight. It’s not a recent phenomenon. Dozens of audits going back to the 1990s have found similar problems with contract management and procurement across a wide stretch of state government agencies. And conflict of interest questions similar to those now dogging the 21CT deal have periodically emerged over other state contracts in the past.
Accenture, IBM, Xerox, EDS have all done it. The one thing the government must do, when it’s money is being given out in situations like this, is make sure that the tax payer is getting a good deal for their money. Obviously those running our government right not could care less about that.
To keep proper oversight would mean having well-qualified, well-paid government staff that will make sure taxpayer money is being used efficiently. That’s not likely to happen with our current government that thinks the government is the problem.
There is not incentive for those currently in office, that keep getting reelected under this corrupt system, to reform this system in any meaningful way.
As our state government takes up school vouchers we all must pay careful attention to how our elected leaders, or more likely how they won’t, setup an accountability system for taxpayer money in the private education system.
Pimentel at the Express-News on what vouchers will do to Texas public education, Choice program is a suicide pact for schools. Suffice it to say that the jury is still out on vouchers, as far as whether they’re a solution or will just cause more problems. No matter how they’re structured they are likely to take money from public education. And, as noted below, an accountability mechanism will need to be setup.
But the main thing he points to is this:
The Texas Constitution. Here’s what Article 7, Section I says, after a brief preamble about the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people: “It shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”
It’s hard to make the case that public funds to private schools constitute an “efficient system of public free schools,” particularly since it’s an open question whether these private scholarships for low-income children will cover full tuition at these private schools.
Of course, some schools may simply write off the balance but others may not. If they don’t, how is this “free?” And if there is a balance to pay, how is this a program for low-income children?
And as he points out any “pilot program” is just a wedge for further expansion of vouchers in the future. The point is, putting government money into a private system, is unlikely to make our system of public free schools more efficient. And it’s not clear the votes in the Texas House will be there, Clash over vouchers comes down to vastly different views on Texas schools.
Democrats in the House and Senate will likely line up against all private school voucher and tuition tax credit bills, but they are in the minority in both chambers.
Rural GOP lawmakers also have also been cool to vouchers in the past.
In 2007, the House voted overwhelmingly to ban use of state funds for private schools — an action that halted all discussion of vouchers in Texas until now.
While Perry and Dewhurst, leader of the Senate, have signaled their support for expanded school choice, House Speaker Joe Straus is taking a more cautious approach, citing previous battles in the House over vouchers.
“If there is not a broad consensus on the issue, then I don’t see a House voucher bill coming” up for a vote, said Straus, R-San Antonio.
“That’s not to say there isn’t a possibility that we can work on an expanded school choice program of some sort. But I want to avoid a scene on the floor over a voucher bill that is not broadly supported.”
One reason vouchers are being pushed so hard, more than likely, is that people already sending their children to private school would like some of their tax money to go to their children’s tuition. What’s lost in all of this is that “vouchers” or “choice” still does not solve any of the problems with public school finance. And the issues with how the public is being educated has more to do with poverty, then anything else.
Most private schools don’t want public school cast offs – like special needs or poor kids filling their schools. They would, more than likely, just take from the cream of the crop from public education. And public education is the only entity that has the means to deal with the masses. What this will likely lead to is a class based education system.
Which leads us back to what public education should be. Public education takes a commitment from the public – parents, teachers, grand parents and those without children in school. It’s something we choose to do today as a society, educate all children, so everyone we all have a better future. Vouchers are the wrong choice.
The Coalition for Public Schools.
From the just released House Research Organization’s report Topics for the 83rd Legislature, page 10 section on School choice and vouchers.
The 83rd Legislature may consider introducing school vouchers, including using public money to pay private school tuition for some Texas school children. Such a program could be targeted to low-income or special-needs students or those who attend low-performing schools. A related issue for debate could be providing tax credits for businesses that contribute scholarships for certain students to attend qualifying private schools. Proposals may impose state testing and accountability requirements on private schools receiving public money. [Emphasis added]
Yes, that’s right, the taxpayers of Texas are going to want accountability, to know what their money is being on and if their money is being spent well. Do private schools really want the state of Texas becoming involved in their business? For all the bluster the right wing has about getting government out of everything, it seems so unlike them to be putting forth a proposal that will allow the government to stick it’s nose in private education.
Private schools have always had autonomy from the government accountability that public schools have always had. But blurring the line between public and private education will end all of that. That surely looks like a deal breaker.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst made his move for reelection last week. In an attempt to ingratiate himself with the tea party that runs the Texas GOP primary these day he’s going to try and give them their ultimate wish. Ending public education as we know it in Texas.
Dewhurst, in a statement, said, “Education will be the hallmark issue of 2013 legislative session, and I believe Sen. Dan Patrick is uniquely qualified to tackle this urgent issue. Texas must change course. Texans must have choices in the education of their children. It is time for bold changes, and I intend to work with Sen. Patrick to shake up the status quo in education and ensure the promise of a world-class education for Texas.”
Patrick has served on the Senate Education Committee since 2007 and has been vice chair for the past four years.
“My focus will be on accountability with flexibility, education through innovation, more local control tied to local responsibility and the opportunity for families to choose the school that best fits the needs of their child,” Patrick said in a statement.
Vouchers long have been controversial in Texas and elsewhere. Education associations in the state view them as an effort to dismantle the public school system by diverting state money into privately operated enterprises.
“We’re convinced from our own studies that vouchers are not the right choice for Texas,” said F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based research organization with a progressive perspective.
“Vouchers bleed off money that’s needed to have strong public schools,” McCown said. “They don’t provide real choice for low-income students because of problems like transportation and parental engagement, and they don’t work at all in small-town Texas, where there’s only going to be one school, and it’s the public school. We believe vouchers are a stalking-horse for middle- and upper-income parents fleeing public schools and leaving them a wreck.”
Via the Turth About Schools they point us to a couple of Viewpoints on School Choice, Vouchers.
Today’s news brings two thoughtful commentaries on the issue of school choice (vouchers, unlimited charter schools): one from a school board member and one from a superintendent.
Each writer voices concern and encourages parents, citizens, and elected officials to consider carefully the impact vouchers will have on the system of public schools in our state.
Read their thoughts here and here.
One conservative blogger says that Dewhursts move isn’t sitting well with Senators across party lines, Rumblings In the Texas Senate: Is Dewhurst in Trouble?
I bring this up because anyone who follows Texas politics knows that Lt. Governor Dewhurst released his committee chairmanship picks last week. A lot of members are not happy – especially with naming Senator Dan Patrick to lead the Texas Education Committee. Many Senator’s are saying that his selection is a direct result of Patrick’s verbal assault on Ted Cruz during the US Senate race run-off and is a payback for it and his endorsement. I am told Senators are publicly discussing changing the rules to take power away from Dewhurst. And if you do not think there are enough moderate R’s and all the D’s to do it you cannot count.
Politics is largely about scratching backs – you scratch mine and I scratch yours. But this is a little blatant since Patrick has little to no experience dealing with education. He is a huge proponent of vouchers, he wants to replace the property tax by increasing the sales tax and is seen by Democrats and moderate Republicans as unstable and hard to work with. Patrick was very hostile to Speaker Joe Straus last session and this could be an attempt to blame any lack of education reform at the feet of the House of Representatives.
At the end of the day – if enough Senators are upset enough by the appointments Dewhurst made they could very easily take his power away and make his last session as the Lt. Governor more humiliating than his crushing defeat to Cruz.
One thing is obvious, Dewhurst believes he has to move to the right to keep the Tea Party types satisfied. As he does he alienates his Senate colleagues and looks like a fool doing
Dewhurst really has no choice. There are not enough moderates left that vote in the Texas GOP primary to save him from the tea party. That’s life in today’s Texas GOP.
Yesterday Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst moved to quell any speculation that he won’t run for reelection in 2014. By announcing that he will be running for Lt. Gov. again in 2014, Dewhurst Plans to Run for Re-election.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, after getting a standing ovation by the Texas Republican delegation in Florida, announced Tuesday that he plans to run for re-election.
“I fully expect to be running for re-election in March of 2014,” Dewhurst said.
“As long as the people of Texas want me to continue serving to help move this state forward, then I’m honored.”
Whether he runs or not, it’s going to be a crowded field.
Three statewide elected Republicans — Comptroller Susan Combs, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples — have all expressed some interest in running for lieutenant governor. Patterson said he will run in 2014 whether Dewhurst is on the ticket or not — and wondered out loud if the incumbent would bow out by then.
“I’m not absolutely sure that he’s absolutely sure,” Patterson said.
Kuff thinks he may be trying to keep these three from getting in this race, Dewhurst says he’s running for re-election in 2014.
Dewhurst could of course just be doing this as a show of bravado to help keep the jackals at bay, but as with Rick Perry I think it’s best to assume he means it until proven otherwise.
It’s not just the potential list of jackals running against him, but he has to keep (or get), some control over a more right wing Senate.
And voucher proponents already have a powerful ally in Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who is a potential candidate to lead the Senate Education Committee, but there has also been a dramatic reshuffling in the upper chamber, one that could expand after next week’s runoff and the November general election.
So far, four Republican senators — Steve Ogden, Chris Harris, Mike Jackson andFlorence Shapiro — have been replaced by very conservative House members — Charles Schwertner, Ken Paxton, Kelly Hancock and Larry Taylor. And two more incumbents are still in peril. Sen. Jeff Wentworth faces a stiff runoff challenge from Tea Party supportedDonna Campbell. Democrat Wendy Davis has a general election contest against Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, in a district that leans Republican.
Among the new faces, Patrick and others might be able to find enough support for the legislation that failed in 2007.
Earlier in the week he chose a regressive to chair the Senate Finance committee and is now making noise that he will support private school vouchers.
Dewhurst made it clear that he supports the voucher concept, though he said that is just one of many options to pursue.
“I personally don’t have any problem with a program in which children’s parents receive a payment from the state and are able to select which school that they go to,” Dewhurst said.
“I’m willing to look at more choice for more parents. It’s early, too early, to talk about what form that may take, whether it could be payments, whether it could be tax credits, whether it could be more charters schools,” he said.
Vouchers would do grave harm to public education in Texas, (but that’s been the GOP regressives plan all along). How serious Dewhurst is about pursuing vouchers will show when he chooses between the two likely candidates, Senator’s Kel Seliger and Dan Patrick, to chair the Education Committee.
Dewhurst’s job next session was going to be tough no matter what. But as a lame duck it would have been damn near impossible. What he said yesterday is what he had to say if wanted to have a chance of wielding power next session. As far as what he will ultimately decide depends on how next session goes and how the polling looks in the Fall of 2013. That and other unforeseen issues, could ultimately change his expectations of running, or whether or not the people of Texas still want him to continue serving.
The Republicans in the Texas Legislature that underfunded public education by almost $6 billion dollars over the current biennium have no intention of ever putting that money back, no matter how much the economy improves. That’s a political reality that everyone must understand as we continue to discuss public education during this election and the upcoming legislative session.
They haven’t been fighting for decades to destroy public education, finally do what they’ve been intending, just to turn around and reverse course two years later. The next play in the playbook will be instead to try and use a voucher scheme to “save” money in public education. Evidence Friday’s Senate Education Committee hearing, which is currently without a chair.
At that hearing on Friday two think tanks with ties to ALEC (Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Heartland Institute) testified in favor of school vouchers in Texas. It was full of the usual when privatization is discussed phantom savings, which can no longer be believed. The GOP will try to use their donor’s corporate backed think tanks as justification for the phantom savings in order to never put the $6 billion from last session back into public education. From the Texas Tribune, Senate Hearing Tackles Vouchers, School Choice.
In a preview of a likely battle in the upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee on Friday heard testimony on school choice programs, including vouchers that would allow students to use public money to attend private schools.
When asked how accountability would work under a voucher program, Matthew Ladner, a fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said it was important to remember that school choice was “an opt out of the public school system instead of an extension of the public school system into the private school.”
Private schools operate under a bottom-up rather than a top-down accountability system, he said. “Parents can pick up and leave” if they feel their children aren’t being adequately served, he said.
Joe Bast of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, among several national witnesses at the hearing, detailed a voucher program he called a “taxpayer savings grant” that he said would result in a savings to the state of $2 billion over the next biennium by giving about $5,200 to each student to attend private schools. He estimated that just under 7 percent of students would take advantage of it. The greater demand for private education would help increase teacher pay, he said, and result in better productivity in public schools.
Senator’s Royce West, Wendy Davis and others were to point out the problems with vouchers and charter schools, Texas senators begin debate on private-school vouchers.
Members of the Senate Education Committee heard from advocates for programs that allow parents to take part of what the state would spend to educate their children in public schools and use it to cover tuition at private ones.
They also listened to groups wanting to ease the current cap of 215 charter schools licensed to operate in Texas.
“We need to look at this as more of a free-market system,” said Andrew Erben, president of the Texas Institute for Education Reform, who compared today’s schools to a ball bearing factory where authorities establish a single set of regulations and hope all kids come out the same.
Erben, whose group represents business interests, said: “We need to let parents and students decide by giving them more options.”
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, noted that Erben’s institute has called for ending bilingual education programs and scrapping a state-imposed maximum of 22 students per elementary school classroom. Erben believes that Texas already spends more than enough on public education, West said.
Erben replied that “spending nearly $50 billion in the aggregate is more than adequate.” Royce shot back, “We cut about $5 billion from our school finance system. You still think it’s adequate?”
In 2011, state lawmakers cut $4 billion from public school funding and $1.4 billion from grant programs, even though Texas’ booming population means enrollment is surging.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said private schools can pick which students they want, meaning that greater school choice may ensure that the only students left in traditional schools are those who will be rejected by private ones or whose parents are too poor to help pay for schooling.
Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, said that while 400 to 500 new charter schools open per year nationwide, only about 7 percent of those up for renewal close, meaning that many subpar schools continue to operate.
Rita Haecker, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, said, “So-called ‘choice’ programs offer no real choice for the overwhelming majority of students.”
The final nail might be what Gov. Rick Perry did today, Rick Perry Appoints Tea Partier Michael Williams to Head Job at TEA.
What a mean way to kick off the school year: Governor Rick Perry has appointed former Railroad Commissioner and failed Congressional candidate Michael Williams to the top job at the Texas Education Agency.
Williams recently shopped around for a Congressional district after pulling out of Republican US Senate Primary, landing in CD-25 where he failed to even make the run-off. The former Railroad Commissioner — aka shill for the oil and gas industry — will take over for former head Robert Scott, who left last month after five years at the TEA. Scott spoke openly about the “perversion” of our public school system’s high-stakes testing system.
Michael Williams has little-to-no background on education policy. His Congressional campaign website does not list education on his “Issues” page. Instead, he seems primarily obsessed with slashing taxes and cutting revenue, and repealing Obamacare.
It is unlikely given his background that Williams will oppose the $4 billion cut from public schools last legislative session, or play any role in finding legitimate solutions to funding our public schools and enrollment growth, and preventing our school districts from hemorrhaging education workers.
Why in the world would Gov. Perry put someone with no education experience in charge of education? What it means is that Perry probably cares little about education and what happens with it going forward. Privatizing education is the next step.
This is their plan. Anyone who still expects the GOP in Texas – people who believe government is the problem – to use it to help people is fooling themselves. It’s been said a thousand times. Nothing will change until we change who runs our state.
[UPDATE]: Kuff has more, Perry gives another middle finger to public education, including this statement from Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston).
AUSTIN – “I do not know what serving twelve years as Railroad Commissioner and two attempts at federal office have to do with knowledge about Texas public schools. But, I do know that being friends with Governor Perry seems to mean one is never out of a job for long. If I was starting up an oil and gas company in Texas, I might call Michael Williams to run it. But, I would never think to call Michael Williams to try to run Texas’ public schools. Should this appointment occur, let it be known once again that the educational system in Texas is at pivotal point, and Texans can not afford to hold on-the-job training classes for the person in charge.”
It’s not a secret that the regressives have had it out for public education for a long time. (Their beef with public education is deep and wide). And from what one state Senator is saying they’re coming after public education again in the upcoming session.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the outspoken voice of the far right in the Senate, said he will be pushing vouchers that parents of school-age children could use for charter schools, online offerings or additional alternatives to the public schools.
“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session,” the Houston lawmaker said. “Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.”
As Texas AFT sees it, they appreciate the warning, Thanks for the Heads-Up: State Senator Vows 2013 Push for Private-School Vouchers.
Right-wing legislators like Sen. Patrick have been trying in vain to pass voucher legislation in Texas, transferring public tax dollars from public to private schools, for decades, session after session. Last year the pressure for private-school vouchers slacked off a bit, as legislators were preoccupied with funding cuts that deprived Texas public schools of more than $500 annually per pupil—an unprecedented $5.4 billion in cuts, all told, leading to the loss of more than 25,000 jobs, inflated class sizes, and the elimination of valuable educational services such as full-day pre-kindergarten.
It’s not obvious that an aggressive stance in favor of draining away more public-school funding via private-school vouchers is all that popular with the public, including many Republicans. For example, in House District 59, Rep. Sid Miller just lost his Republican primary runoff in good part, we would suggest, because he pushed a private-school voucher bill in the legislature last year.
However, Sen. Patrick has done an unwitting service to the educators, parents, and education-friendly citizens of Texas, by providing a heads-up that the voucher lobby will be back for another serious try in 2013. Texas AFT, our allies in the broad-based Coalition for Public Schools, and pro-public-education lawmakers are taking the threat to heart and will redouble efforts to defeat any and all voucher bills.
This makes it clear that the future of public education is at stake in the upcoming election and the legislative session that will follow next year. It’s not just vouchers, but the regressives in the Texas GOP have another front on defunding public education by doing away with property taxes.
They’ve got the usual suspects lined up. ALEC already has the legislation prepared for corporations to profit from Texas taxpayers to “educate” our children.
It’s key to study the races around the state and vote for candidates that support restoring full funding for public education in Texas. Texas Parent PAC endorsed candidates are a good place to start. But closer to home here in Williamson County in District 136 Matt Stillwell is the obvious choice for restoring public education funding in Texas.
There’s still time to repair the damage the GOP regressives have done to public education in Texas. But educators, parents, and education-friendly citizens of Texas have to stand up and stop it.
Replacing Property Taxes with Sales Taxes is the Wrong Answer for Texas Families and Public Schools.
One of the most clicked on and linked to posts EOW ever did was this one, Where Did The 65% Rule Come From? It was just a scam proposed by 39% to cap “classroom spending” at 65%, which would ultimately lead to vouchers. Well the kook who was in charge of the 65% rule nationwide just can’t believe how badly vouchers were trounced in Utah on Tuesdsay (Link via Crooks and Liars), Vouchers go down in crushing defeat.
Voucher supporter Overstock.com chief executive Patrick Byrne – who bankrolled the voucher effort – called the referendum a “statewide IQ test” that Utahns failed.
“They don’t care enough about their kids. They care an awful lot about this system, this bureaucracy, but they don’t care enough about their kids to think outside the box,” Byrne said.
The bill enjoyed the support of elected Republicans but the public never supported it. After passing the legislature and being signed by the governor it was then forced to a referendum.
Utah’s voucher program, supported by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Republican legislative leaders, attracted national attention because it would have provided tax-funded subsidies to any student, rich or poor, to enroll in a private school.
The law passed by a single vote in the Legislature, but voucher opponents, led by the Utah Education Association teachers’ union, gathered 124,000 signatures to force it into a voter referendum.
The resulting public opinion campaign included thousands of TV and radio spots and burned through $8.5 million for a program the state estimated would cost $5.5 million in its first year.
The tidal wave of cash changed few minds, however. As far back as January – before the Legislature approved the voucher program – a Tribune poll showed voters opposing vouchers 57 percent to 33 percent.
This is just typical of corporate, Republican, authoritarians. It’s OK to have an opinion as long as it’s the same one they have.
The more than 2 year old court battle waged by DPS to protect Speaker Craddick’s back hall from the public’s eyes has cost taxpayers $165,000. A three judge panel will hear arguments on the case October 24th. Sen. John Carona (D-Dallas) has it on the agenda for the next meeting of the Senate Transportation & Homeland Security Committee in El Paso November 8th.
This case is all about the public’s right to know about what goes on in the “people’s house”. Whether “big daddie” James Leininger was prowling around in Craddick’s back hall, illegally twisting wobbly legislators arms, during a crucial vote on vouchers. The Texas Observer (Tip to Kuff) has all the details.
You’re right, that’s not news. What’s news is that this poll will be used as “gospel” for those who still want to cram vouchers down Texan’s throats. BOR starts the debunking, New Voucher “Poll” Out.
As reported by our friends at Quorum Report, a new poll has been conducted that shows that 65% of Texans support vouchers. The poll was completed by Daron Shaw and James Henson, two UT professors, as part of the Texas Lyceum.
How to respond to this? Three things:
- Traditional response: vouchers threaten our neighborhood schools by taking public taxpayer dollars and sending them to private schools.
- Point out that 68 percent of people in the poll believe the Bible is the literal word of God, and 52% go to Church weekly.
- Based on what was reported on QR, the question doesn’t mention the money would have to go to private schools — it just says would parents want money to spend on their child’s own education.
This from the Executive Summary (.PDF):
More respondents (40%) identified themselves as Independents than as Republicans (28%) or Democrats (27%). More consider themselves Conservative (41%) than as Moderate (32%) or Liberal (19%).
This is how the AAS says the question on vouchers was asked:
Among findings that surprised pollsters, 65 percent of those surveyed said they favored school vouchers or some sort of plan to give tax money to parents to let them choose how to pay for their children’s education. Thirty percent opposed vouchers.
One of the people conducting this poll, Daron Shaw, worked for both Bush/Cheney campaigns. He was on Fox “News” a while back discussing bias in poll questions. You can read about it here and here. Hmm…wonder if giving tax money to parents skewed the results.
One question on school vouchers has always been how in the world are the private schools going to deal with the influx of news students if something like this was to come to fruition? They’d have to hire and bunch of new teachers, build new schools, etc.. Next thing you know they’d be asking for help from the government so they could keep up.
This is a poll and polls can be designed with a pre-determined outcome, by the way the questions are asked. It’s just hard to believe that support for vouchers (67%) is higher than President Bush’s disapproval rating (62%). If they would have asked the question like this, do you believe your tax dollars should be taken out of public schools, which will lead to their destruction, and be given to private schools instead? They would have gotten a completely different number.
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