Justice surely was done to the plaintiffs in the Texas school finance case this past Friday when the Supreme Court poured them out entirely in the unanimous decision to deny each and every claim the plaintiffs made in the case. In fact, the defeat was so utter and complete, it’s hard to imagine how and when such complainers could ever return again to the court to continue any sort of the litigiousness that has characterized the last many decades in Texas on the topic of school finance.
I wrote months ago on the duplicitousness of the plaintiffs. Here is a link to that blog: http://sandykress.weebly.com/blog/seduction-by-deception-how-texas-school-districts-played-both-the-legislature-and-the-supreme-court-to-get-what-they-want
In essence, the plaintiffs, wearing other hats and accompanied by allies and funders, went to the education agency and to the legislature over the course of several years, pushing hard to lower standards, soften curricular requirements, and eviscerate accountability. Culminating mostly in HB 5, they largely succeeded in this mission. As I have also written on many other occasions, their despicable actions have contributed to stagnation in student achievement, as shown consistently by multiple measures of student progress. http://sandykress.weebly.com/blog/the-texas-problem-pretending-its-good-when-its-not ; http://sandykress.weebly.com/blog/-the-texas-8th-grade-math-drop-is-bad-and-its-statistically-significant ; http://sandykress.weebly.com/blog/its-not-enough-to-dream .
Tragically, until these changes were put in place, Texas students had been advancing academically as well or better than their peers in other states.
Yet, the plaintiffs and their bunch weren’t done. They went to court, too, arguing there that they should be paid billions of dollars based on “adequacy” and “equity” claims. And what was the basis for these claims? The plaintiffs dared to argue they needed all this money to jump the higher bar THEY THEMSELVES HAD LOWERED through the very administrative and legislative actions they had pushed successfully.
We no longer promote a 4X4 curriculum. Students no longer need to take a science course beyond biology. Students no longer need to take a math course beyond geometry. Students no longer are tested in end of course exams in their junior and senior years. The Algebra II and English III exams, which were highly predictive of college readiness, are no longer administered. The few freshman and sophomore exams that remain do not need to be passed to graduate. Social promotion is back in full force. Virtually all schools continue to be well rated, irrespective of how poorly their students are doing. In other words, there’s nothing left of the college and career readiness policies that were passed in the 2000s. And this evisceration was effected principally on the motion of the plaintiffs and their enablers.
Yet, the plaintiffs went into court arguing for billions of new dollars needed to achieve the college and career readiness policies that they themselves had obliterated. I don’t think that those who invented the Yiddish word, “chutzpah” ever could have imagined what the plaintiffs did in Texas!
So, where are we now? The plaintiffs and their enablers are like the chess player whose king is hemmed in in the corner of the board by his opponent, with multiple checkmate moves available. It’s worse than it’s ever been for them. They shooed away their reform and traditional business allies with whom they had earlier made “common ground” agreements, only to bust them up with their all-or-nothing strategies in the legislature. Now, they can only look to hard Rs, many with deep Tea Party loyalties, to beg for the bundles of $$ they seek. These were the folks with whom they “went to bed” to weaken accountability. Now let’s see if these fiscal conservatives will be willing to open the money spigots to the educrats. Not likely.
Even worse, the future for Texas and its children looks as bleak as ever. Our policies that were working have been leveled. Our consensus to move forward together has been destroyed. The Court - rightly - has put the issue of funding back on the legislature, but it’s a legislature that has not acted recently with much vision or leadership.
The educrats and their buddies who created this mess should be held accountable for the damage they’ve done. New leadership is badly needed. Perhaps we can work our way back to the path forward. Let’s hope so. In the meantime, the loss has been tragic and incalculable.