Daily Archives: April 15, 2011

Funding Texas Public Schools & De-funding Bureaucracy

Un-Educated Misdirection

All across Texas children, parents and teachers rise to protest imminent budget cuts to public school funding. School administrators encourage phone calls, organize rallies on the steps of the state capitol and flood the halls of the State Legislature with teachers and parents who fear public education jeopardized by curtailments of state spending. What is the real threat?

What’s Under the Hood?

Americans For Prosperity set up a web site called The Red Apple Project that provides financial reports for all Texas public school systems. Let’s look up data on our Rockwall Independent School District. Click on the RISD linkand download the report in PDF format. While you print the report, let’s consider a

Take a Bite Out of Waste

few facts.

We senior citizens remember when public schools were managed very differently. Relating to my own Palacios ISD, I remember well that teachers were in control of students, the school office would have two or three administrators, including the principal and janitors were lowest paid employees. Teachers represented about 90% of paid staff – that’s about a 1 to 10 administrator-to-teacher ratio.

According to Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans, Rockwall ISD student population increased 96% over a ten year period of time. During that same time period, school staff increased 140%. Today, our non-teaching staff to teaching staff ratio is right at 1:1. So, what’s the big deal? Let’s look at some numbers.

Take a look at that report you printed out. Focus on line items 43 through 46. What do you see? Shameful, isn’t it? Our top-heavy administration siphons off the big bucks, while average teacher salaries fall dead last. Our superintendant’s salary is higher, almost by a factor of two, than the salary of the Governor of the State of Texas. Next in line are Assistant Superintendant salaries.

Across the state, Assistant Superintendant salaries range from $36,565 to $160,896. Rockwall ISD pays $123,109, according to the Texas Tribune.

Administrations Have Taken On a Life of Their Own

This week in Austin, I talked with a young public school teacher from Sugar Land, Texas. She never knew about the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) whose office is walking distance from the State Capitol. It’s an affiliate of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). What do we find on the TASA website?

Corporate sponsors, news about legislation and links to reports from districts around the state. For example, there is a bill before the Texas Senate to cut teacher salaries. What? No bill to cut administrator salaries?

School administrations exist to protect the jobs of administrators – some exceptions, but few in number.

Useful Idiots

School administrations foment anger and fear among students, teachers and parents. Cutting state spending, they say, will hurt children, harm the classroom and so forth. Nonsense, I say.

School administrators use students, parents and teachers as “useful idiots” to lobby the Texas Legislature, hoping to maintain their own lifestyles.

Bottom Line

State lawmakers, yielding to all the cards, letters, emails, telephone calls and busloads of children, are going to draw from the state’s “rainy day fund” to fund recurring expenses – this is absolute foolishness.

Budgets cover salaries, debt service and miscellaneous expenses. Contingency funds, the “rainy day” fund, is how we cover unexpected expenses, like wildfires, hurricanes, floods and like “acts of god” over which we have no control.

Take Action

Tell your state representative and your state senator to cut administration overhead, while preserving class room teachers. While we’re at it, let’s demand the legislature empower teachers to better and more efficiently manage their classrooms by cutting onerous mandates.

Texas SD-2 Senator Bob Deuell

Bob.Deuell@senate.state.tx.us

(512) 463-0102 Austin Office

(972) 279-1800 Mesquite Office

Texas District-89 Representative Jodie Laubenberg

jodie.laubenberg@house.state.tx.us

(512) 463-0186 Austin Office

(972) 772-8525 Rockwall Office

(972) 468-4189 Murphy Office