Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (TP) really, really wanted a vote on one of his pet projects – school vouchers. After getting the increasingly right-wing Texas senate to pass a bill that would create education savings accounts allowing parents to remove children from public schools and send them to private alternatives, and provide tax breaks for businesses offering donations to help pay for private schooling. The measure went down in flames in the Texas House – about the last bastion of occasional sanity in GOP-dominated Texas politics. The House voted 103-44 to reject Patrick’s plan. Democrats and rural Republicans torpedoed any chance of passage. Republicans wonder how they sell a bill that would reduce public school funding to parents who actually like public schools and have a harder time selling Patrick’s patchwork plan to rural voters where the public schools are the only option.
On to the bathrooms!
From the Annals of School Financing – In 1920, voters ratified the Better Schools Amendment to the Constitution of 1876. The amendment removed limits on school district tax rates and was intended to ease the state’s share of school financing. Supporters of the Amendment also hoped it would increase equality in school conditions by enabling each district to improve its facilities. The impact of the amendment was erratic. By 1923, there was a 51 percent increase in overall local taxes for school districts support for public schools. Yet, many school districts refused to increase tax rates and continued to rely on the state as their primary source of financing. The problems caused by the Amendment persist today as the reliance on local property taxes for the majority of public school financing has created great inequity between rich and poor school districts leading the Legislature to enact the very controversial Robin Hood school financing plan.
The Texas Tribune details the Hobson’s Choice facing voters residing within the Houston Independent School. Under the “Robin Hood” plan HISD is due to send $165 million to poorer school districts subject to voter approval. The voters can turn down the plan, but then the district faces the prospect of having some of its most expensive real estate figuratively moved to another close-by poorer district. That is, if the voters say ‘no’ to the incredibly poorly worded proposition on the November ballot, then the state can take some expensive real property off of the HISD rolls and instead assign it to another district to boost its property tax base. Locals bigwigs are lining up behind the “no” vote in the hopes that the Legislature will blink when faced with the proposition of telling the largest school district in the state that it is stripping away some $18 billion of its tax base. And the kicker is, the obligation to pay the $165 million is still there – only to be paid by the smaller number of taxpayers. Red envisions James Dean speeding towards the cliff and this time his sleeve gets caught in the door handle.
The 93 year old South Texas College of Law has decided to change its name. The only independent law school in Texas will soon be known as the Houston College of Law. The STCOL board apparently believed that the school needed an even closer association with its home city. Board Chairman J. Ken Johnson commented on the change
The law school has been an integral part of downtown Houston for almost a century. Our students are within walking distance of some of the nation’s biggest law firms and the city’s courthouses are in our back yard. With our diverse student body that mirrors Houston’s population, we will remain dedicated to educating future generations of attorneys.
Red for one does not really view Houston as being in South Texas. Houston falls into its own category. Will this require a lot of resume changing?
A middle school teacher in Sulphur Springs apparently has a tradition of handing out “Ghetto Classroom Awards” to students. The Root reports that the teachers have landed in a bit of hot water over what they claim was intended to be a joke. Some parents found the awards decidedly unfunny.
Jerrika Wilkins sparked controversy after posting a photo of the certificate on Facebook, explaining that it was part of the “8th Annual Ghetto Classroom Awards,” given to her eighth-grade son at Sulphur Springs Middle School for saying “Huh?” a lot in class, the report says.
Wilkins told Fox News that her son was “pretty hurt” by the award. “He feels pretty inferior,” she said. “You know, he want to succeed. You know, it just kind of hurt his feelings.”
The school’s principal called an emergency meeting, at which, Wilkins says, one of the teachers, Tim Couch—who also serves as pastor at the Cross Branch Cowboy Church in Sumner, Texas—apologized. The other teacher, Stephanie Garner, offered to resign, but the family said they didn’t want that, Fox writes. The district also issued an apology to the family.
The family said that they were told the awards went out to all the kids in the classroom as a joke and were not meant as a racial slur.
“‘Ghetto’ was not supposed to be a malicious intent to degrade him,” said Wilkins. “It was supposed to be all in fun. I didn’t take it that way.”