65% Damage Control
Governor Perry’s historic Executive Order directing Texas Public Schools to place dollars in the classroom provides little more than damage control for Texas’ children. Nevertheless, it’s a necessary step to compel accountability from a runaway education bureaucracy.
It is imperative that the 65% rule be implemented immediately with a narrow definition of classroom spending. Texas Public schools take well more than 30 Billion Dollars annually from Texas families. Tragically, much of our money never see a classroom. Texas public schools run their own “Bermuda Triangle.” Somewhere between administrators, teacher trade unions and their taxpayer-funded lobbyists, our children’s education disappears and is never heard from again.
Barely 50% of our money reaches the classroom.
Squandering almost half of the tens of billions of dollars Texas families provide for their children’s education has delivered an unproductive, unsafe, unwieldy system that is serving our children poorly.
The following are recent examples of frivolity and failure affecting hundreds of thousands of Texas public school children.
In December of 2004 I wrote of a “Doomed To Failure” approach undertaken by then Laredo Superintendent Sylvia Bruni. Ms. Bruni decided to teach prancing and dancing instead of reading and writing. To read the article, Click Here
In June of 2005, I revisited Laredo ISD. The prancing and dancing instruction had not served Laredo children well. Under Superintendent Bruni’s tutelage, Laredo children were unable to identify a skyscraper. Ms. Bruni’s solution, sue America.
Finally, the sad saga ends. According to a Laredo Morning Times article dated September 28, 2005, Ms. Bruni quit after the board fired her from her superintendent duties.
How many Laredo children lost a year of education as Ms. Bruni frittered away their time and treasure on her “innovative” strategies? How much money was wasted as children received instruction in water drinking and walking? How many Laredo children will find themselves wearing a paper hat and inquiring,
“Would you like fries with that?”
because they were denied a legitimate education? How many children could have been salvaged if money had been placed in classrooms providing real instruction from real Educators?
Laredo children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
In December 2004, I wrote of Superintendent Dr. Otto’s battle against Christmas.
I thought Texas families had prevailed. I was wrong.
A September 19, 2005 KRIS, Channel 6 TV article has US Senator Cornyn filing a brief on behalf of Plano children.
Quoting from the article, quoting from the brief:
“The Plano District has gone to great lengths to outlaw Christmas and any of its vestiges from its schools. “
The Senator went on to say, “I filed this brief because school children have a constitutional right of religious expression in the public square. Government should not discriminate against private expressions of faith, and favor only secular speech, yet that is precisely what is happening all across the country.”
Otto is squandering tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, litigating against a national holiday.
Plano children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
Houston was ground zero for a statewide cheating scandal.
Now, measures that will remediate the previous malfeasance are months late. According to an October 29, 2005, Houston Chronicle article,
“Nearly 3,000 low-income students at struggling schools in Houston Independent School District qualify for free tutoring, but many families still don’t know that they’re entitled to the help because the district is two months behind in notifying them. “
You’re watching Houston’s “Caring Educators” in action.
Houston children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
In August of 2005, we wrote about Hearn ISD students fleeing to Mumford ISD. Parent’s, students and teachers all agree that Hearn is inferior to Mumford. The superintendent of Hearn is litigating to preserve Educrat jobs. Inexplicably, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Neeley is supportive of his effort. She sent her “Man From Austin” to assure that no Texas child is educated in violation of the law.
We now learn that the degradation of Hearne Education was due to inattention.
According to an undated Hearn Democrat editorial, Mumford had worked long and hard to improve its academic rigor. The concluding paragraph of the editorial is instructive:
“Hearne ISD would do well to take note of Mumford’s long journey into the educational sunlight and begin just such a safari themselves. Every student deserves the best education he or she can get. If the local school cannot provide that education, there should be nothing wrong with a parent of any race, color or creed seeking a better school system elsewhere. “
Hearne ISD is squandering tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, battling Texas parents whose only desire is to seek a brighter future for their children. The TEA is assisting them in this shameful endeavor.
Hearne children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
Frisco ISD is moving hundreds of children to a different school. In some cases they’re splitting siblings. Not surprisingly, tens of parents are very annoyed and are considering legal action against the district.
Many parents have concluded that the drive to “ease crowding” is actually a ruse to preserve the status of the local football team. An October 5, 2005 Dallas Morning News article quoted a parent, Brian Anderson, as saying:
“Many parents feel the district wants to avoid extra students at Centennial so that the school will not be put into the 5A sports classification for larger schools.
It’s unfair for 300 students to suffer academically for the sake of 100 football players.”
Frisco ISD is embarking on a potentially litigious path that is driving hundreds of students to distraction and calling into question their commitment to academics.
Frisco children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
Wilmer Hutchins ISD
Wilmer Hutchins was the worst school district in Texas. After 40 years of abusing Texas children, it is finally dead. They squandered tens of millions of dollars and negatively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of young Texans.
As I was thinking about “Hutch,” I recalled their final valedictorian. The young woman’s name is Sade Dawson. According to a June 3, 2005, Dallas Morning News article, Ms. Dawson graduated with a 3.67 GPA and was awarded a full scholarship to Texas A&M University.
Ms. Dawson sounds like an extraordinary young woman.
Despite her direction, dedication and diligence, Ms. Dawson only scored an 840 on the SAT, above the school average of 715, but well below the state average of 989.
Any valedictorian is an extraordinary individual, no matter which Texas public school they graduated from. But, what if Ms. Dawson had had the benefits of a good school? Certainly someone, as directed and driven, would have performed extraordinarily well at any location.
In Texas, the top 10% of graduates of Texas high schools are admitted automatically to a state college. The practice fosters diversity and prevents students, such as Ms. Dawson, from being excluded from higher education simply because they were forced to make do with an inadequate education inflicted upon them by an abysmally performing Texas public school.
We help the top 10%. Why not help the bottom 10%?
Until there is choice throughout Texas, why don’t we automatically provide 100% fully funded vouchers to all attendees of the bottom 10% of Texas high schools?
Wilmer-Hutchins was an abomination. It was a blight on the body politic of Texas for more than 40 years. The bottom 10% of Texas public schools undoubtedly shares similar deficiencies. Not every student possesses the motivation and drive of a Sade Dawson, a drive that overcame the appalling conditions inflicted on her by Texas public schools.
Just because students are not the best, they should not be abandoned to the worst schools.
I’m afraid that mandating 65% to the classroom will provide little benefit to Texas’ most horrifically mismanaged public schools. We should permit the children to flee and flee now.
Wilmer-Hutchins children needed the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
Through the years, Dallas ISD has been home to egregious scandals and unconscionable waste. We learn of the latest in the October 29, 2005 Dallas Morning News. In an article titled DISD Official Pushed Deal For Pal, we quote the following:
“Suspended Dallas schools technology chief Ruben Bohuchot pushed for and helped secure a speedy $2 million dollar deal this year for the technology firm that gave him the frequent free use of a yacht, records show. …….
The award was approved over objections from district purchasing officials, who complained that the breakneck bidding process – whipped along by Mr. Bohuchot – gave the company an unfair edge.”
Other articles said he got to name the 59-foot boat, use it whenever he wanted and other perks.
Dallas ISD routinely purchases tens of millions of dollars in computer equipment. Dallas is a highly competitive marketplace. The price of electronic equipment is in free fall. Competition should permit Dallas ISD to make tremendous deals from hungry vendors.
The vendor Mr. Bohuchot favored was Micro Systems. In this highly competitive environment, Micro Systems earned enough of a premium to purchase a $789,000 sport fishing boat. Then, according to reports, the boat was ceded to Mr. Bohuchot for him to use as he pleased.
How many tens of millions of dollars could have been placed in the classroom if other qualified vendors would have been permitted to compete?
Another timely article suggests what might have been done with the money spent on Mr. Bohuchot’s yacht.
An October 30, 2005, Dallas Morning News article described the plight of students, faculty and staff of the Nolan Estes Arts Magnet school. According to the news:
“The roof leaked so badly in 2001 that rainwater turned a wall in office 204-A to mush and shorted out an electrical outlet.
Secretaries in office suite 100 complained of chronic headaches, watery eyes and continuous sneezing the next year. As recently as March 2004, the building’s maintenance supervisor reported a “mold concern throughout the building.”
Parent Rick Bently said: “We are quite concerned about the air quality at Nolan Estes. It’s hard to believe anything [DISD] tells us.”
The lengthy description of health and environmental problems atthe school goes on for three pages.
According to the article, Dallas ISD is spending $699,000 for extensive work to repair the facility. That’s $80,000 less than the cost of the luxury vessel purchased for Mr. Bohuchot’s use.
I hope he had a wonderful time sailing his yacht.
Dallas children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
San Antonio ISD
I wrote of San Antonio ISD in May of 2005. High-level administrators were placing their children in programs created for destitute and homeless children
The principal perpetrator, Program Director Eva Leal-Trevino, is fighting to get her job back. She now claims she had permission to place her children, and those of 61 San Antonio ISD principals and teachers, in slots for homeless children.
Who knows what’s true with these people?
We do know that she’s fighting for her job on your dime. This according to an article published on October 20, 2005, by WOAI News 4.
San Antonio ISD is another Texas public school tragicomedy.
After she and her cronies absconded with hundreds of thousands of dollars in services for the homeless, she’s now squandering tens of thousands more in an attempt to be returned to the position of trust she previously violated.
What if, after adjudication, it turns out that Ms. Leal-Trevino had permission to take education resources from homeless children? Does that truly exonerate her or San Antonio ISD? You’re only a pre-school child for a short time. Every position denied to a homeless child by a six-figure administrator like Ms. Leal-Trevino is a horrific tragedy for a needy family that cannot be reversed.
At some point, high-level administrators like Ms. Leal-Trevino have to start taking their jobs seriously. Regardless of who gives them “permission,” Texas public schools are not their personal playgrounds.
We need to do anything and everything we can to rein these people in.
San Antonio children need the damage control provided by the 65% mandate.
The above are 8 timely examples from big districts representing theft and/or misuse of funds in the hundreds of millions of dollars range affecting hundreds of thousands of Texas children. If you consider the opportunity cost of not educating these children, the offending Texas public schools have easily robbed us of hundreds of billions more.
If the 65% mandate could have stopped even 5% of this abuse, how many tens of thousands of Texas children would now be living a better life?
Consequences Of Failure
The failure to place resources in Texas classrooms is having significant deleterious effects.
We’ve written previously about the new Texas Enron. Fully 50% of Texas high school graduates enrolling in college need remediation in reading, writing or computing.
It gets worse.
According to an August 30, 2005, AP story, Texas SAT scores trail the nation. The class of 2005 scored an average of 502 in math vs. a national average of 520. Texas also lagged in verbal skills. Texas verbal average was 493 vs. a national average of 508.
As if that wasn’t bad enough.
According to an October 30, 2005 Austin American Statesman article entitled Texas College Enrollment Growth Slows, I quote the following:
“Enrollment at colleges and universities in Texas grew much less than expected in the past year for reasons that are not clear, prompting alarm among higher education officials.”
Not clear? It’s crystal clear.
Texas children are less and less qualified for the challenges of college. Furthermore, they know it. Many of them have given up. They’re forgoing their futures because they’re compelled to attend public schools that have not prepared them for the rigors of higher education.
During the October 19, meeting, Commissioner Neeley assured the superintendents that Texas public schools would be “Met where they were and brought along.” According to the commissioner we’re going to “work” with districts. We’ll start by using just 50% of our money for classroom instruction and work up to 65% over a period of years.
Why? Why are we waiting?
Texas has a demonstrably poor public school system. For decades, many schools have just gone through the motions. As illustrated above, many Texas public schools are rife with cheating, theft, mismanagement and worse. Unlike the commissioner and her buddies, the goal of Texas parents is to educate our children and educate them now.
A question for Texans.
Do we “work” with our auto-mechanic, accountant, attorney or medical doctor to help him or her get up to speed? No! We tell them what we want and inform them that we expect it done. If they can’t do it, we find someone who can.
Noodling Neeley has already abandoned standards on two separate occasions. In both instances, she imposed fines on families rather than forcing Texas Educrats to accept responsibility for their failure.
That’s not the end of it.
We learn from a News 8 Austin report that about 62% of all TEA ratings appealed were approved.
Families, consider this.
Aside from alerting the community that your school has serious problems, there’s no real sanction for being Academically Unacceptable for one year. As there is no penalty for the first year of unacceptability, why did we waste time and treasure reviewing school districts? Why not let the earned rating stand? If the low rating was a mistake, it will be addressed in the following year. If it wasn’t, the districts children will not have their tutoring and transfers delayed for another year.
Fear The Family
Texas Public Schools fear Texas families. We know what you’re doing and we’re not happy about it. The 65% Rule is an imperfect top down solution forced upon us by a runaway bureaucracy more concerned with preserving their perks than performing their duties. Until we can fully empower Texas families with “The Power of The Purse” we must insist on strict accountability to include sanctions at least as severe as those imposed by the TAKS.
Canary In The Coal Mine
There’s a better way than the 65% rule. Provided with fully funded 100% transferable education vouchers, Texas families are willing to be the “Canary in the Coal Mine” to public schools. Texas will know which of her schools are in trouble because their students will disappear. When a Texas public school squanders their resources on stuff and nonsense, families will react by removing their children to schools run by true Educators.
As we do so, true Educators will be richly rewarded. It’s conservatively estimated that fully funded educational vouchers will permit Educators to earn at least three times their current compensation.
For Educators to prosper, families must have choice. Work with us to make Universal School Choice a reality in Texas.
Work With Us!
Let’s provide families the ability to select the public, private or parochial school that best serves their needs. Let’s remove education dollars from millionaire administrators, union bosses and lobbyists; instead, lets educate our children with education dollars. Let’s place families in charge with fully funded 100% transferable education vouchers.
Contact the Governor, your state senator, state representative and your State Board of Education Representative today. Urge them to support embattled Texas children by empowering Texas families with “The Power of the Purse.” Urge them to support 100% Fully Funded School Choice in Texas.
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