Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Education, Public Schools, Taxes at 2:39 pm by wcnews

I think most Texans can agree, despite party or ideology, that our current public education system - financing, accountability, achievement - isn’t working the way we’d like. But what’s funny, in a sad way, is Texas Association of Business (TAB) president Bill Hammond’s reaction to the recent “drop out waiver” approved by Gov. Perry’s appointed chief of the Texas Education Agency Robert Scott. Of course TAB, Perry and the GOP have worked together on school finance, and may other issues in the past. (see this BAH, Bill Hammond, hands off our kids!, [tip to QR]). Here’s what Hammond had to say recently in the HChron:

“Once again, the Texas Education Agency has turned a blind eye to the dropout crisis in Texas,” said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. “The agency has declared that it’s academically acceptable for one-third of all students to drop out and for one half of Hispanics to do the same. To whom is this acceptable?”


“We need an accountability system that is honest about where we are today and most importantly that sets a goal of high school graduates that are ready to compete in the work place and who will go on to post secondary education,” Hammond said. “We cannot have a first-rate public education system in Texas with a second-rate accountability system.”

Of course the waiver had nothing to do with school accountability, it had to do with the GOP not wanting to make a scene about education this close to an election, in an election year. Having a bunch of schools listed as low performing after the great “school finance fix of ’06” wouldn’t do anything to help the GOP’s chances around Texas November.

Of course Hammond’s outrage stems from the fact that businesses actually have to pay taxes more than anything else.

“The employers of Texas pay for about two-thirds of the cost of education in Texas today. They are in fact the ultimate consumers of the system in that the school system is producing the workforce of the future. They are very concerned about both the quality and the quantity of high school graduates in Texas.”

Accountability’s not the real problem Hammond has with what’s going on with public schools right now, as much as it is, that businesses are paying taxes for public education, period. TAB hasn’t complained that Scott and the TEA are using the drop out issue to push vouchers. Hammond is using the TEA as a convenient scapegoat when it suits his purposes, and turning a blind-eye at other times. And Perry and his lackey Scott could care less.

The main sticking point is not that we all can’t agree there’s a problem with our schools in Texas, the sticking point is how we fix the problem. TAB, conservatives, and the Texas GOP want to privatize it, like a toll road, and do it on the cheap - something for nothing conservatism. But there are just some things we can’t leave to the corporations, and have to pay for if we want quality and accountability.

In The near future, hopefully sooner rather than later, all Texans will realize that we need to fix public education in Texas for good. So that it’s first priority is educating our children, not who pays the taxes. That can’t be done by tweaking the current system anymore. We’ve got to tear there current one down and start over.

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