I want to be clear at the outset about what I mean by the term, “educrat.” I am not talking about the many fine teachers in our state. Rather, I am talking about bureaucrats who generally a) oppose real accountability for educating students to meet state academic expectations, b) oppose robust parental choice of school options, and yet c) want significant increases in spending, irrespective of effectiveness or efficiency.
It was mostly such educrats who brought the recent school finance case and were turned away by a unanimous Texas Supreme Court in a stinging rebuke. See http://sandykress.weebly.com/blog/-the-russian-novel-of-texas-school-finance-comes-to-an-inglorious-end.
In that case, the educrats tried to twist the language of the Constitution to suit their interests. In essence, they wanted the constitutional requirement of a general diffusion of knowledge through an efficient system of schools to be read simply as requiring the legislature to give them a huge increase in funding.
The Court had a choice to make. It could have decided with the educrats. Or, it could have decided that the constitutionally appropriate level of funding is, above certain minimums, whatever amount the legislature chooses it to be. The Court unanimously made the second choice.
What was most despicable in the educrats’ pleadings was their deceptive argument that the state should give them substantially increased funds to educate students to state college and career readiness standards. They failed to disclose to the Court that the state no longer had real college and career readiness standards BECAUSE THE EDUCRATS THEMSELVES HAD SUCCESSFULLY LOBBIED THE LEGISLATURE TO EVISCERATE THEM!
To make matters worse, educrats had already masked from the public the truth about real levels of academic success and failure in the schools.
In the late 2000s, educrats convinced the Education Commissioner to give 70% of the schools the state’s highest ratings, despite the fact that far fewer merited such ratings based on objective criteria.
In the 2010s, educrats went a step further by convincing policy makers to give 95% of schools the same passing rating. So, whether schools were great, improving, average, mediocre, or close to awful, they were all deemed acceptable.
In effect, though the Texas Constitution calls for a general (presumably effective) diffusion of knowledge, educrats had actually undermined that mission by making sure that 1) meaningful, high standards were lowered, and 2) the ways and means of assessing actual learning to state standards were so muddled no one could tell success from failure. In one of the classic cases of all-time chutzpah, they, then, after doing this dirty work, sued the state for more money - based on the Constitution!
This brings us to 2017. Having been tossed out of Court, the educrats quickly geared up to ask the legislature to give them the big bucks denied them by the Court. But, their current game is abundantly clear for all to see. While carrying a bag for money in one hand, they now carry poison in the other - to kill parental choice and the legislature’s new accountability system.
To be more specific, the educrats have declared war on one of the key priorities of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor - to expand parental choice in a significant way.
In addition, the educrats have set out to kill the new legislative system for evaluating schools with A-F ratings. These ratings would be based on factors important to taxpayers and parents, such as student achievement to state standards, student progress, and student readiness for college or career. Such ratings would be understandable to parents and the public, and, if administered appropriately by the Commissioner, they would be fair, transparent, and useful.
Here are three articles describing this latest effort by educrats to kill the new accountability system:
2) https://communityimpact.com/austin/southwest-austin/education/2016/12/20/austin-isd-board-passes-resolution-states-f-accountability-system/, and 3) http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/12/20/texas-schools-rebuff-f-ratings/.
Note the typical obfuscation: if only accountability were “different,” or “better,” or “alternative,” or determined by local bureaucrats, etc., etc., it would be ok. Yet, we know from the educrats’ own history what they really want. Essentially, they want virtually all schools to get a pass. That’s no-accountability.
The educrats will try to hide all this when they show up at the Pink Building this session. But the fig leaf has fallen off. Their position is crystal clear: they want to kill choice; they want to kill A-F or any other robust accountability system; and they want to reach into taxpayers’ pockets to grab as much money as they can get.
Taxpayers and legislators - be warned!