Patrick’s S.B. 2: Charter Schools and Home Rule Districts

Senator Dan Patrick is waging, clearly, a war against public education in Texas.  Evidence?  Well, look at the bills he has filed, look at his comments in press conferences, and, importantly, look who his supporters are, his co-advocates for destruction of the children’s schools!  There is a clear line from the Koch brothers to ALEC (also Koch-funded) to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (also Koch-funded) to the Texas chapter of the Americans for Prosperity (also Koch-funded), to Rick Perry.  Look also at almost identical bills filed in other states, supported by the same special interests and using identical language to talk about them.  There is no doubt!

Patrick does it all under the slogan of “school choice” and his justification is the slogan about how good it is for there to be “competitiveness.”  (These words are used repeatedly in the same contexts in other states to talk about the same bills with the same names.)  Both phrases are nonsense, and both lack veracity.  Patrick and his advocates care nothing for poor children.  Nothing.  What they care about is using the tax money available and finding ways to channel it into the pockets of the wealthy, in whatever way they can.  Plain and simple.  Children already have choices in their schools and in their school districts.  No child ever failed due to lack of choice.  Children fail every day due to a lack of appropriate, timely opportunities to learn.  It is ridiculous to think that tiny, for-profit charters, staffed by uncertified teachers and administrations, accountable to private boards, will do a better job educating Texas children than its schools.

Linda Ethridge laid out a great argument against S.B. 2 in a recent column in the Sunday Waco Tribune-Herald.  It is posted, in full, on this website.  Just click on ISSUES and then on CHARTERS, and you will find it there.

Another great response is Kim Burkett’s blog about how fiscally irresponsible Sen. Patrick is with this proposal.  The link to her blog is also posted on the same page as Linda’s.

A third response is from Paul Thomas’s blog on AlterNet, Mar. 6, 2013.  It too is posted on the CHARTERS page for your reference.

These three commentaries outline powerful arguments against charter schools period, against raising the cap, against forcing school districts to provide facilities for charters, and also against diluting the resources of public schools.

Also on the CHARTERS page are links to third-party research that over and over again show that, at best, charters perform as well as public schools.  In many cases, they perform worse, in some much worse, and, as you might predict, many, many are closed due to corruption, fraud, violations of student rights and safety, etc.

We really need to look no further than the performance of charter schools in Texas.  For example, in 2010-11, 8% of the 482 Texas charter schools were rated Unacceptable in the accreditation report.  Only 5% of the 8,526 traditional campuses in the state received that negative rating.  And, yet, Senator Patrick goes around the state proclaiming that public schools are “failing,” when the truth is that state policy resulting in 60% of our children living in economically disadvantaged homes (low minimum wages, low percentages of adults with high school diplomas, almost 30% of Texans with no health care, etc.) on top of most schools being both inadequately and inequitably funded are THE major causes for the 5% of schools that do struggle. The causes of academic failure are NOT due to children not being able to choose a different school and not because the neighborhood school doesn’t compete in the market place.  The causes are due to impoverished homes and school-funding austerity!

Please spread the word to all fellow Texans that we need to overwhelm the legislature with our opposition to Senate Bill 2 by Patrick–all of it.  We will not be mollified with tweeking it here and there.  We want it to be defeated by as many votes as possible to send one clear message:  TEXANS want quality public schools, and at least 62% of us, according to the most recent UT/Texas Tribune poll, are willing to pay higher taxes to have quality public schools!  There is nothing good in that bill.  There is nothing that needs to be salvaged.  Kill it dead in its tracks NOW.

So–spend a little time reviewing the information on the CHARTERS page of this website.  Then click on ADVOCACY and then TEXAS SENATE to find the contact information for Senator Patrick, the Senate Education Committee, and your own state senator–and either call or email each of them to express your opinion.  Then click on ADVOCACY and then TEXAS HOUSE to locate contact information on the House Education Committee and for your own House representative.

We can win this war if we all will step up to the plate.  Never underestimate the power of the people’s voices!  If many of us call/write, they will start worrying about re-election.  And if they vote against the children on any of these critical bills, then we all need to remember and make sure that they are NOT re-elected!  That is how the system works.  If they do support the children’s schools, then we need to support them, praise them, thank them in public as many times as possible.  –by Bonnie Lesley

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