in Houston, Texas
Texas schools want local control, state cash -- $1 billion in supplemental funding as Legislature convenes
Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013, 11:20AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Texas Watchdog last week celebrated with prolonged reverie one of the Internet’s several birthdays. I’m sure you remember the 30th, the day Network Control Protocol gave way to Transmission Control and Internet Protocols that changed everything.

What those protocols eventually gave us was the ability to gather news, not just from our mossback hometown newspaper, but from everywhere.

Take today, for example, the day the Texas Legislature convenes for its 83rd biennial time. On this day Texas teachers, administrators and school board members want the Legislature to know how they bridle for control of their school districts.

They struggle with their budgets and staffing, the imposition of State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness testing, tailoring their curricula and setting their school calendars. As the Dallas Morning News headline reads today, “Texas School Districts Want State Off Their Backs.”

“We see this every session when we go through our biennial legislative agenda. Every time, it’s about local control,” Dax Gonzalez, with the Texas Association of School Boards, tells the Morning News.

Oh, and while you are liberating us, could you spare an extra $1 billion?

Without that infusion of state tax money, Shirley Beaulieu, chief financial officer at the Texas Education Agency, testified in an ongoing public school funding lawsuit, school districts won’t be able to pay their bills come summer, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Rick Gray, a lawyer for many of the more than 600 school districts that have since joined the lawsuit, reminded everyone just how far local control extends on school matters.

"This just magnifies the need for the Legislature to seriously get in and solve the problem once and for all," Gray says. "We're playing the robbing Peter to pay Paul year in and year out."

For his part, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee, tells the Morning News he fully intends to work on the issue of local control. From Austin.

“I’m willing to bend over backwards to help school districts be flexible and successful,” Patrick tells the Morning News. “But they have to be willing to be flexible as well.”

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of school bus by flickr user Whatknot, used via a Creative Commons license.

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