ACTION STEP — IMMEDIATELY — DO NOT PUT POLITICIANS IN CHARGE OF TEXAS STUDENTS’ TEXTBOOKS

Apr 8, 2019 by

4.8.19 – FROM DONNA GARNER – “DO NOT PUT POLITICIANS IN CHARGE OF TEXAS STUDENTS’ TEXTBOOKS”

ACTION: SB 2440 is scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow, 4.9.19, in the Senate Public Education Committee. 

SB 2440 is the enabling legislation for SJR 78.  

Sen. Larry Taylor is the author of SB 2440 and of SJR 78.  He is also the chair of the Senate Education Committee. 

On 3.30.19, the State Republican Party Executive Committee (SREC) passed a Resolution supporting continued control of the Permanent School Fund (PSF) by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.

Wording from that Resolution:

“THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the State Republican Executive Committee reaffirms our commitment that the elected State Board of Education remain directly accountable to Texas citizens and independent of the legislative and executive branches, responsible for managing the Permanent School Fund through transparent deliberations and active public engagement.”

Please contact your Texas Legislators immediately and ask them to vote against SB 2440 and SJR 78 — https://capitol.texas.gov/

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“Do Not Put Politicians in Charge of Texas Students’ Textbooks”

By Donna Garner

3.11.19

PLEASE SEE ACTION STEP AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE:

For eons, Texas Legislators have been salivating over the “Pot of Gold” – the Permanent School Fund. The PSF is the largest educational endowment in the United States; at the end of fiscal 2018, the fund balance was $44 Billion. The elected members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) are charged under the Texas Constitution to manage the PSF.  The investments from the PSF (1) put money into the Available School Fund which pays for textbooks and other instructional expenses for the 5,399,682 Texas public school students, and (2) helps school districts, including charter schools, to get lower interest rates on construction bonds. 

At the very last minute for filing new bills by the Texas Legislature (3.8.19),  Sen. Larry Taylor popped up with SB 2440. This bill would take the authority away from the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to manage the Permanent School Fund (PSF) and puts it into the hands of a Governor-appointed, nine-member board. The board would be called the Texas Education Investment Management Organization (TEIMO), and only one member out of the nine would be a member of the SBOE.  

As someone who has watched the SBOE carefully for more than 35 years, I can testify to the fact that there have been many highs and lows as various elections cycles have come and gone. The one thing that has stayed fairly stable is the fact that the majority of the SBOE members have always tried to preserve and invest wisely the PSF to make sure our Texas students have textbooks. 

With only a very few exceptions, the SBOE members are dedicated to the issue of education first and foremost. That is why they ran for the SBOE, and that is why they serve on the SBOE. They want to make sure that the curriculum standards (TEKS) that they adopt are implemented into the textbooks which eventually reach the students’ desks.   

[Unfortunately, the best Type #1 IM’s do not always reach students’ desks because of the insidious intervention of SB 6 passed by the Texas Legislature on 6.27.11.  SB 6 allows school administrators to purchase IM’s (including digitized IM’s) using Permanent School Funds.  These school administrators often do not make wise choices based upon the subject content being aligned to Texas’ curriculum standards but instead choose products from vendors/lobbyists with Type #2/Common Core to sell. I blame the Texas Legislature’s SB 6 for allowing Common Core to pour into our Texas classrooms. The Legislature could always reject SB 6 if they so decided.]    

CASE IN POINT:  Now let’s take a closer look at the Texas Legislature. They want to get re-elected, and the way to keep their voting bloc happy is to appeal to their special interests.  The PSF’s “Pot of Gold” is a very tempting target; and if a politician decided to put politics first and if he happened to be appointed to the TEIMO, it would be very tempting to scatter the funds among vested interests rather than making sure the dollars were well spent on quality instructional materials aligned with the TEKS.   

As I have stated before, it is far wiser to have those closest to the classroom (15 elected members of the Texas State Board of Education) who are handling the adoption and costs of textbooks/instructional materials/other education expenses to make decisions over the Permanent School Fund.  In fact, that is why the writers of the Texas Constitution gave the fiduciary responsibility over the PSF to the 15 elected members of the SBOE, knowing that they would know when, if, and how much PSF money is needed for expenditures.

As an example, the SBOE passed new English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS which are being implemented in K-8 this coming school year (2019) and in 9-12 in the fall of 2020.  This implementation requires all new ELAR textbooks over two years for almost 5 ½ million students (both in English and in Spanish). Because of the many strands of curriculum that fall under ELAR, there is an extensive list of different textbooks which are required to teach these strands (e.g., reading, language arts, spelling, handwriting, literature, and composition).  The SBOE understands the importance and also the expense of these textbook materials.  Politicians in the Texas Legislature would not have the expertise nor the concerted interest level to make sure that our Texas public school students always have access to quality IM’s. I believe it would be very unwise to put politicians with personal and/or vested interests to be in charge of that $44 Billion “Pot of Gold.” 

ACTION STEP:

Please contact members of the Texas Legislature and tell them to vote “No” on Sen. Taylor’s SB 2440:  https://capitol.texas.gov/

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    TYRA RAHMA

    knowing that they would know when, if, and how much PSF money is needed for expenditures.

  2. Avatar
    Charles Paschal

    I would normally say the teachers should have the say but in today’s times I tire of the left wing monopoly on education and the indoctrination into Socialist guidelines. Though the government may not be any better. It is after all the conservatives bringing up the bill. I haven’t heard enough to make an informed decision here.

  3. Avatar
    Madeleine Myers

    During my teaching career, I felt constantly frustrated by one political agenda after another ( including the statewide tests) interfering with our ability to teach the subjects we knew were important to the intellectual, mental, and character development of our students, dumbing down and lowering of expectations. Please allow teachers to teach, approve the textbook content and curriculum, and do the work we were trained to do. Educate, dont medicate or indoctrinate.

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