RISD Legislative Agenda – Opposition to Charter Schools is a Political Position

25 March 2015

What is the most fundamental role of government?

Do you know?

The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…

A flyer sent from our Rockwall ISD stated the district’s position on various fiscal and political issues within its legislative agenda. I draw your attention to one item: Funding Charter Schools.

Oppose voucher programs that remove funds from public schools

Point Number One

My former pastor Larry Lea would say, “Sometimes something has to be said.” As I see it, something has to be said, now.

First and foremost, those tax dollars don’t belong to the school district. The money isn’t “state public school funds”, but moneys collected via taxation for the education of all children resident in area. Those tax dollars are OUR dollars, as in “we the people”, we the taxpayers within the Rockwall Independent School District and elsewhere in the great state of Texas. We elect school board trustees to represent the interests of taxpayers, not the pecuniary interests of school administrators.

biz v govt cartoon
Second Point

Full disclosure: My children are all grown with children of their own. Some of my grandchildren attend public school and some are in home schools. None are in charter schools and I don’t expect they ever will be.

With the above statement in mind, I have no “ax to grind” on the issue of charter schools. However, I do have an “ax to grind” on the matter of the worldview of elected school trustees and hired school administrators.

On the subject of those unalienable rights, the “pursuit of happiness” means exactly what?

As for property rights, they were at the heart of the dispute which led to the American Revolution. When Americans at the time listed the rights of man, they often said “life, liberty, and property.” Boston’s 1772 “Rights of the Colonists” were typical: “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First, a right to life; secondly to liberty; thirdly to property.” As with happiness, this is not a right to property itself, but a right to use one’s talents to acquire property, and to use it as one sees fit, as long as one does not injure oneself or others.Founding.com

School revenues come from two sources: state treasury tax revenues and local (school district) property taxes. Rockwall ISD is building a backlog of debt that will never be paid off. We are facing debt obligations that will go out approximately 50 years.

Third Point

We live – at least we used to live – in a free-market economy where competition brings out the best in everything. Not some things. Everything.

Charter schools represent competition, even more so than private schools. Over in Dallas, many parents opt for charter schools like Uplift – Williams Prep over public schools for reasons apart from scholastic testing.

Source: http://www.schooldigger.com/
Source: http://www.schooldigger.com/

Perhaps uniforms are the reason. Perhaps not. Perhaps discipline and order are the reason. Perhaps not. Perhaps all the above. Chief among reasons is the desire of poor parents to give their children a boost out of poverty. Note the percent eligibility for free lunches.

This particular charter school serves as an example because I know Williams Prep. This school has been one of our customers several years and, no, I have no financial interest in Uplift Education or any of its schools. My company associates have enjoyed doing business with this school due to the politeness and respectfulness exhibited by students and staff.

Summary

Rockwall administrators and trustees have no business OPPOSING school opportunities outside the Rockwall Independent School District. We do not elect our trustees to engage in politics. We elect trustees to be stewards over our tax dollars and district property and to oversee district administration .

I point to the prescribed duties of RISD trustees, as posted on the official website.

“Texas law grants the seven-member Board of Trustees exclusive power to govern and oversee the management of public schools, including authority to levy and collect taxes, buy and sell property, exercise the right of eminent domain, accept donations, charge fees, and adopt employment policies.”

Absent are the duties of lobbyists. Also absent is a mandate to campaign against the interests of families not residing in our district. Borrowing from Sin City’s slogan, what happens in RISD, should stay in RISD.

Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston parents must be the best arbiters of what’s best for their children. Adopting a political position in opposition to charter school funding tramples the rights of our fellow Texans. Trustees should bring to mind the most fundamental role of government – securing the rights of citizens.

John White

Rockwall, Texas

Contact your Rockwall ISD trustees: http://www.rockwallisd.com/about/board-of-trustees/ 

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