Thursday, August 18, 2005

Editorial: Craddick blame game can't spin this failure

San Antonio Express-News / 08/18/2005 12:00 AM CDT

With school finance reform as elusive as ever, House Speaker Tom Craddick has expended more energy rationalizing the failure than he did trying to prevent it.

And make no mistake, the failure is colossal, a lack of legislative will and authority that affects every school-age child in the state.

But if you think Craddick, as the most powerful individual in the House, accepts some of the responsibility for that mess, forget it.

First, he blamed his colleagues, launching attack ads on the radio in which he accused the Senate of watering down an early House version of a school finance reform bill.

Now, he is going after school superintendents, saying they are more interested in funding than they are in reform.

"All they want is money," Craddick told the Express-News. "They are not interested in any reforms, any changes. ... They just want money, and they don't want any changes in the system."

With his accusatory finger pointing in all directions, one has to wonder who his next target will be. Why not blame the kids? After all, they are not even interested in the legislative process; all they want to do is go home every day feeling as if they learned something.

As for the rest of us, we are learning plenty. We are learning that petty politics trumps the future of our children. After one special session and another one nearing its close, the Legislature is no closer to resolving an issue that lawmakers identified, at the start of the regular session, as the most important on their agenda.

"Those people — and the speaker especially — see public education as a liability, not as an asset," North East Superintendent Richard Middleton told the Express-News. "They don't see it as something that's worth keeping and nurturing and developing."

With lawmakers whimpering and pointing fingers, the only option is to await guidance from the Texas Supreme Court, which is reviewing a lower court ruling that the public education system violated the state constitution.

After expressing his frustration over the issue recently, Craddick said he might "go fishing."

If he fails to catch any fish, don't worry; he'll find someone to blame.
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