June 27, 2012
Too many education “experts” are part of the problem
by Clay Robison
Some of the business “leaders” who are bemoaning what they see as an inadequate public education system simply refuse to admit that they are a major part of the problem. Why?
The major, overriding problem with public education in Texas is that it is inadequately and inequitably funded by state government. And many of the self-styed education “experts” from the business community who are whining the loudest have been the strongest political supporters of Gov. Rick Perry and the legislative majority, which slashed $5.4 billion from the public schools’ budgets last year.
These same business people, including the Texas Association of Business, stood idly by, for the most part, and let it happen. Now, they are crying because they fear the Legislature next year will take steps to weaken the new STAAR testing program, an unpopular, unproven set of high-stakes tests that should be discarded in favor of a more realistic accountability system. They have gone so far as to demand that education funding be frozen if STAAR isn’t salvaged.
At least 11,000 teachers already have lost their jobs, and more than 8,400 overcrowded elementary classrooms were above the capacity limit during the recent school year – all because of the budget cuts. Freezing funding at that level while school enrollment continues to grow by about 85,000 students a year would simply be irresponsible. It also would be extremely short-sighted for a Texas business community whose future depends on an educated workforce.
Instead of continuing to deprive teachers and students of the resources they need to succeed, these business “leaders” should be demanding that the governor and the legislative majority adequately fund the public schools. In other words, they should start demanding accountability from the officials they have helped to elect and keep in office. Then, the powers-that-be should listen to concerned parents and enlist the real education experts – teachers – to help develop a fair, broad-based accountability system that actually means something and is based on more than standardized test scores.