I Hope This Is a Rumor: Klussmann As Texas Ed. Comm.
“I Hope This Is a Rumor: Klussmann As Texas Ed. Comm.”
By Donna Garner
I hate to mess with rumors, and I try to ignore most of them. The problem is that in this case, if we do not respond to the rumor, the deed might be finalized before we have a chance to submit any input.
Dr. Duncan F. Klussmann, Ed.D. evidently wanted to be Commissioner of Education a few years ago and was on the short list when Gov. Rick Perry decided to choose Michael Williams as the Commissioner instead. Rumor has it that now Klussmann (and his allies) are trying to get Gov. Greg Abbott to appoint him as the Commissioner of Education.
From what I have been told, Gov. Abbott is not displeased with Michael Williams but feels that the new Governor should put his own stamp on the Texas Education Agency by appointing a different Commissioner. Of course, this could all be just a rumor being pushed by Klussmann and his cronies to pressure Gov. Abbott to appoint him. Such rumors are pretty commonplace in Austin and in the political world.
I do not know Duncan Klussmann, the ex-superintendent of Spring Branch Independent School District; but I know a few things about him. I know that Susan Kellner (Larry Kellner’s wife) used to be on the Spring Branch ISD School Board and that she and Klussmann have worked closely together. (Larry Kellner used to be the president of Continental Airlines.)
Last I heard, Susan Kellner was still on the board of Raise Your Hand. Her association with Raise Your Hand puts her in very bad company. Raise Your Hand is run by the Ratliff Clan (Bill and Thomas), Mike Moses, and Charles Butt (of HEB Grocery Stores). Klussmann became a volunteer chair for Raise Your Hand Texas in 3.26.08 (http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/memorial-news/article/Spring-Branch-ISD-superintendent-named-volunteer-1764845.php ).
For people who are new to Texas or for people who have forgotten the details, let me recap the serious problems Mike Moses had while he was the Dallas ISD superintendent (2000 – 2004).
All of the following were uncovered by The Dallas Morning News during Mike Moses’ years as the leader of the district:
Allegations surfaced about out-of-control spending with school credit cards, lost dollars for health plans, abuse of federal e-rate funds, irregular technology vendor contracts, misspent federal bilingual education funds, costly deals with Kinko’s, apparent conflicts of interest involving Voyager Expanded Learning, contributions by computer vendors, questionable bond sales, multiple teacher grievances, eyebrow-raising private consultancies, lucrative Coca-Cola contracts, and special privileges for vendors participating in the Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI) conferences.
Meanwhile, Mike Moses received the highest superintendent’s salary in the nation ($340,000 per year, excluding benefits) even though eleven school districts in the country were larger than Dallas ISD.
When the DISD problems began to surface in 2004, Moses resigned and walked away with an additional $480,850. Along with his ongoing and lucrative superintendent search business, he now receives a yearly TRS pension of $224,400 per year. Note that Moses’ wealth comes from taxpayers’ dollars.
During the years that Mike Moses was the Dallas ISD superintendent (2000 – 2004), Ruben Bohuchot was the Chief Technology Officer at Dallas ISD (August 1999 through February 2006). William Frederick Coleman, III was Deputy Superintendent and Chief Operating Officer at DISD from August 30, 1999 through Sept. 15, 2000.
Bohuchot, Coleman, and Frankie Wong were all indicted for plotting and carrying out a multi-million-dollar scam to misuse federal dollars; Buhuchot and Wong were sentenced to federal prison.
How could Bohuchot, Coleman, and Wong have carried out such an elaborate plan, including the many contract negotiations, without Mike Moses either participating in the scam or having knowledge about it?
I personally believe that Moses was shielded from the federal investigation. Maybe he threatened to reveal something damaging about a high-profile politician who had the power to make sure Moses was kept out of the federal investigation. Who knows?
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock is the chair of the House Education Committee, and his daughter Michelle Smith is a lobbyist for HillCoPartners which is tied to Raise Your Hand. “Raise Your Hand has its own political firepower. It reports spending an estimated minimum of $350,000 on a lobbying team that includes former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff and [Rep. Jimmie Don] Aycock’s daughter, who works at the Austin firm HillCo Partners.” (Watchdogwire.com – 5.22.13 – http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2013/05/22/legislators-lobbyist-relatives-create-questions-over-families-and-ties-that-bind/)
Mason Moses is the son of Mike Moses and is an employee who is financially tied to CSCOPE/TESCCC/ESC’s.
So what supposedly would make Klussmann, the Spring Branch ISD superintendent from 2004 – 2014, a good choice as Texas Commissioner of Education? Spring Branch’s student data is mediocre. The district joined the school finance lawsuit which is built upon a shoddy foundation since there is no independent research anywhere that proves that money = academic achievement.
It seems rather hypocritical to me that at the same time Klussmann was joining with other superintendents to sue Texas to give schools vastly more funding, Klussmann himself was making the second highest superintendent’s salary in Texas — $309,400 (“How Much Does Your Superintendent Make?” – 5.2.12 – Texas Tribune — http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/texas-superintendent-salaries-2011/.
If the rumor is true about Gov. Abbott appointing Klussmann as Commissioner, I would find it strange for Gov. Abbott to appoint a man who was suing Abbott when he was the Texas Attorney General.
Spring Branch ISD has nothing to set them apart as being a leader on early reading or digital learning which are both priorities of Gov. Abbott’s education platform. Klussmann also has no record of public support for the idea of grading schools A – F (another of Abbott’s objectives) and nothing particularly outstanding in the area of teacher effectiveness. Klussmann is “all over the map” on Pre-K initiatives which is another of Abbott’s platform issues. These are the type of issues that are high on the list for Julie Linn, president of Texans for Education Reform; and she is one of Gov. Abbott’s advisors on education issues.
In the last legislative session, Klussmann led the way to pass HB 5 which has gutted Texas’ postsecondary readiness plan, has taken the focus off academic achievement, and has caused schools to focus instead on an abundance of electives.
Klussmann is a spokesperson for the “educrats” who support low academic standards, no accountability, and a big increase in more taxpayers’ dollars going to the schools. Why would Abbott even think about appointing a Commissioner whose devotion to the “good old boy” system (money, bureaucracy, the lodge, fluffy standards, rhetoric instead of results) should be a disqualifier.
The relationship among Klussmann, the Kellners, Mike Moses, Bill Ratliff, Thomas Ratliff, and Charles Butt would make Klussmann, if chosen by Gov. Greg Abbott, one of the worst Commissioners of Education appointed by a conservative Republican Governor in America.
Picture this: If Klussmann became the Commissioner of Education, it would be the same thing as having Mike Moses, the Ratliffs, and Charlie Butt in charge of our Texas public schools!
I am a nobody; but if anyone who reads this has any sway with Gov. Greg Abbott, I hope you will share this information with him. I have been told that if Klussmann is to be the choice for Commissioner that he would be appointed in a few weeks as a senior advisor to Commissioner Williams; and the official nomination by Gov. Abbott would be made after the Legislative Session is over.
I believe Gov. Abbott either needs to leave Commissioner Michael Williams in place, or else the Governor needs to appoint someone who holds the same conservative and fiscal values as he does.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT RAISE YOUR HAND
1.18.07 — “Raise Your Hand for a Handout” – by Donna Garner – Voices Empower — http://www.voicesempower.com/sonic-wave-releases-new-album-2/