Just What Should We Look for in Schoolboard Candidates?

Posted on May 2, 2011. Filed under: Conservative, education, Elections, Politics, Texas | Tags: , , , |

The ISD’s throughout Texas and across the country have worked hard to grow their empires.  Sources of Education funding ( State, Federal, and local funding) comes to the ISD administration.  The small committee of people  are tasked with the creation and management of  budgets for the respective district.  What has occurred through the years is the administration has grown, along with the budget required by the ISD.  One could argue there are so many students representing a diverse population both economically and cultually, it is a direct impact on the needs of the community.  This point of view is not standing up to scrutiny in the majority of the ISD’s in Texas nor in other states.

We have gone toward an education system where people from prestigious colleges and posessing high visibility in community organizations rule.  These people determine how taxpayer dollars will be used in the district.  I am not disparaging their qualifications, only to say that the qualifications do not inherently mean they have common sense nor the experience required for a job managing millions of dollars and thousands of students.  People in those school districts pay exorbitant amounts of money in school taxes.  There is a duty to provide good stewardship of funds and programs to the entire community. 

Money does not guarantee a person will excel beyond their wildest dreams.  There have been a lot of studies that show when students have it too easy, they don’t necessarily become good citizens.  These people continue to expect everyone in society to contribute to their quality of life.  A good case in point, is the highly educated people of privilege who brought down Enron.  The people making the trade decisions and influencing poor accounting policies were from elite households and had the finest educations.  One might also point out without relevant experience, people easily get into trouble on big projects.  A good example of the result of lack of experience  is the President of the United States. 

What are the ISD’s doing to build character within the school community?  Is it building character to squander money in the ISD?  Are we teaching the children all things are possible with other people’s money?  There is no way anyone can convince me that schools should cost in the tens of millions of dollars and be “architectural gem” to provide good educations.  Are you getting bids?  Are you making smart choices on bond money?

Sadly, the school administrations are not doing a good job.  I would suggest the school boards need to be made up of people with varying backgrounds and expertise to counter balance each other and provide well-rounded solutions based on a total approach.  There should be a person who truly understands budgets and school financing, a teacher who understands political trickery at schoolboard level,  a person who is able to see both sides of an issue and bring good solutions to the table, a person who has experience in IT inclusive of emerging technologies, a person well-versed in state textbook curriculem,  a person who possesses knowledge of buildings and structure, and a leader who can facilitate.

The school superintendent should look over the management of teachers and receive the guidance from the School Board.  This should be his only job.  Simple is better for all concerned, rather than a manifestation of grandiose ideas at the expense of everyone in the community.

Looking into the expenditures of the various school systems in our state, has been eye opening, frustrating, and points to something that has evolved over years of the community not paying attention.  The evolution of a corrupt, power hungry, expensive school system in Texas did not happen over night.   It will take several cycles to strip away the problems, beginning with school board replacements at local and state level.

What can we do?  Please send messages on facebook, email, and twitter to remind everyone of the importance of voting.  If you have data on the local candidates, share it!   The quality or lack thereof in the education system will directly impact future leaders in our country.  It is up to the communities to change current school system challenges.

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Texas Legislature Not Adhering to Fiscal Responsibility Advice

Posted on April 25, 2011. Filed under: Politics, Texas, Texas | Tags: , , , , , |

Where does the budget process in Texas stand at this time?  The Texas House passed a budget with various cuts, and  identified a need for using 3.1B of the Rainy Day Fund.  This proposal then went to the Senate. The Senate has their own budget proposal.  It spends 12B more than the House Proposal.  This budget process is going to end up in conference. 

When the House and Senate offer two different solutions to the same bill, the legislation then moves to a committee made up of some members of the House and Senate.  Their job is to negotiate a solution which satisfies the legislature as a final solution.  In this instance, there will be debates about where to cut money and how much.

Mr. Talmadge Heflin, of the Texas Public Policy Foundation identified 3 priorities for the legislature with regard to the budget for the next biennium.  Go to this site for more info on the House and Senate budgets: http://www.texaspolicy.com/legislativeupdates_single.php?report_id=3719   

There are 3 things that lead to logical solutions on the budget.

  1. Make the necessary cuts
  2. Don’t raise taxes
  3. Don’t use the Rainy Day Fund

The Senate chose to disregard the advice of economists, experts, the Governor and the people of Texas.  They have elected to spend more money when they are fully aware of the unfunded mandates the state is facing in 2013.  New sources of money were used by the Senate to help pay for some of their programs, but it does not solve the future problem.

Before Texas gets into dire straits, there must be austerity measures taken in the state.   In the past year, Americans have witnessed many states teetering on the verge of bankruptcy trying to make quick fixes.   Several states have bond ratings now in jeopardy of a downgrade, due to excessive spending.  Is this what we want for Texas?

Please call your legislators and state clearly the need for fiscal restraint prior to the emergency!  Let’s show the rest of the country how it’s done.

As a final thought of what to say to the legislators:   We pay you to be smart and do the very best for the citizens that elected you to office.   Show  you have the integrity and character to do what is best for Texans. 

  1. Get rid of duplicity across departments
  2. Freeze all discretionary spending for two years
  3. Freeze hiring in all departments of the state for two years.
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Katy Schools Suffer as Superintendent Wields Power

Posted on April 15, 2011. Filed under: Economy, education, Politics, Texas | Tags: , , , , , |

This week, Katy Texas was the scene of unprecedented power plays by the School Superintendent.  Texas has a budget shortfall due to many contributing factors,  but primarily from unfunded Federal mandates.  Mr. Frailey, Katy ISD Superintendent,  decided to leverage teachers against the legislature for his own purposes.  For the past couple of days, he authorized the immediate firing of dozens of teachers due to the shortfall.   Here is a few links to the local news media that had several stories on the events:  http://instantnewskaty.com/ , http://katytimes.com/news/article_c3a35ab6-66c6-11e0-9b79-001cc4c002e0.html

The official story is an administrator would call the teacher out of the classroom to inform them.  They would also inform them of all “their options” and then the teacher could either return to the classroom or go home.  Several teachers were too devastated and tearful to continue working, and the school already had substitute teachers waiting to help. 

Students were upset and staged protests at several schools.  Tomorrow in Katy, there are a minimum of 7 staged school protests that have been planned.  There is also a major protest rally at 11:30 in front of the school administration building.  Parents are upset, students were disrupted and upset, teachers were traumatized, and for what?

Tonight at a town hall in Katy, the teachers, students, and community gathered to try and make sense out of this week’s dramatic actions by the administration.  Tearful teachers spoke about the event, and wondered what can be done.  Everyone was looking for answers.  The community united and determined it will remedy this situation.  People will gather tomorrow at 11:30 in front of the administration building in Katy.  They are demanding answers and deserve them on so many levels.

Why is this so ridiculous?  The Texas House passed a budget which cut education, and other departments across the board.  It has not passed the Senate.  The Senate is introducing their own bill with fewer budget cuts.  It is likely to pass.  At that point, the Senate and House bill will go to conference.  In this process, 5 members of the House and 5 members from the Senate will compromise on a final bill.  The budget battle is far from over, and the Superintendent begins firing teachers and blaming the legislature.  This begs the question of why this Chief Administrator of Education for Katy ISD would arbitrarily elect to fire large numbers of teachers before the budget is settled.

What is the truth of the matter?  Local ISD’s have built up mini empires of administration.   In Texas, there is a one to one ratio of non teaching individuals to teachers.  The Superintendents command enormous salaries and perks for themselves and an abundance of non-teaching personnel.   Specific ISD information was published recently on a website sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, Texas Chapter.  For the highlights of statistics onState Education Spending: http://www.americansforprosperity.org/021511-grassroots-resource-talking-points-education-spending-texas    Americans for Prosperity took it one step further and have invested the time and resources to make ISD information readily accessible to the public.   It is called the Red Apple Project.  You can access all the financial details here: http://www.redappleproject.com/    Katy ISD, in particular only spends  49.7% of each dollar on the classroom.  The Administration makes a lot more money than the teachers.  Add this to the fact, that over 80M is sitting in a bank account in the district, and you see just how ludicrous the actions were of this administrator.  There is zero requirement for 80M to be in the reserve funds of the ISD.  Yet, he still wanted to make political points.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Frailey sent out a letter to the students with his spin on why he had to take the actions this week.  You can read his letter here:  http://instantnewskaty.com/2011/04/14/20699

I urge all parents and teachers to investigate the money being spent in this ISD and the decisions made by the Superintendent.  Students deserve quality teachers that are paid appropriately.  Bureaucratic overhead is destroying the budget.  Good solutions to the budget dilemma can be had without firing teachers.  Perhaps the Superintendent didn’t do his homework?

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Texas Education FAQ’s

Posted on March 25, 2011. Filed under: Economy, education, Texas | Tags: , , , |

Wrong information on the education situation in Texas and in America is being circulated by leftists who continue the exercise of attempting to divide conservatives.  This week the focus is on clarification of misinformation circulating about education and teaching professionals.  Americans for Prosperity sponsored a teleconference featuring Senator Florence Shapiro.  Senator Shapiro was a former educator and small business woman who truly understands budget challenges facing Texans. Currently the Senator is chairman for the Education Committee in Texas. Her ability to paint the picture for listeners was useful, and showed a great depth of caring for children and the education system.  The Education budget will necessarily need to make cuts, just as many other state government departments will need to do in this biennium.  What does this mean to children, teachers, and everyone concerned about quality education in Texas? 

  • Many people have received fliers in their children’s weekly take home information, stating Texas wants to cut teachers and are going to hurt the children.  This simply is not true.              

Fact: The education budget is bloated and necessary cuts will need to be made, just as all the other departments in the Texas budget are facing cuts.  The budget cuts for education will be left up to the local School Districts as to how it is handled.

  • What is causing the “bloat” in the education budget?  We know the teachers must supply schoolroom materials from their own money in a lot of cases.                                                                                           

Fact:  The current ratio of non-teachers in the education systems in Texas is 1 to 1.  This means for every teacher there is another person!  Why?  The non-teachers on the education payroll account for billions of dollars in salaries and benefits.  In a recent call with Governor Rick Perry, it was pointed out that the non-teaching staff in Texas has grown 300%!  This is the same  kind of outrageous growth across the country.

  • The teachers deserve more money.  This isn’t fair.                                                                                    

Fact:  The state will have to make significant decreases to the overall Texas general budget at all levels.  No one is mandating teachers be taking pay cuts or be let go.  The decisions are being left up to the local ISD as to where they cut the budget.  Studies have shown there are many duplicate efforts that should be eliminated, “perks” that should never have happened, and services that can be shared among multiple ISD administrations. All Texas citizens will need to share in the sacrifices being made due to the strain of the unfunded mandates.  Budgets can be cut, without cutting teachers.

  • Why are the teacher unions protesting in other states, if teachers are not being hurt?   It looks like the government is out to “get” the teachers!                         

Fact:  When the union negotiates with the government for pensions and raises, it is the taxpayer that must pay for additional benefits and monies.  A good example is the state of California.  Example: There are currently over 9,800 people who retired from a public job and are receiving over 6 figures for the rest of their lives.  These people did not contribute anything to the pensions and many are under the age of 50.  Economic hard times prevail currently in the country, and the pensions and spending levels are unsustainable.

Closer to home in Texas, data is offered on the Local ISD.  Please take the time to read the charts.  There are dozens of bureaucratic positions that make no sense, look redundant in functionality, and also…….they are not teachers in the classroom!

http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/government-employee-salaries/fort-bend-isd/               

Go to this website, to gather the data on your local ISD and hold them accountablehttp://www.redappleproject.com/

Want to know what cuts are being made in education and other departments?  Look at the following legislature passed this week in the Texas State Senate on budget: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB4

The quarrel is not with the teachers.  In fact, the teachers should be up in arms over the money being wasted by the bureaucrats in the ISD.   The money stops at local administration level, and does not reach the classroom.  Less than half of each dollar intended for education, actually reaches the classrooms.

What is the answer?  The state is leaving the power and decision on how to change the system at local level.  This plan on budget cuts and how to achieve them is sponsored by the state legislature.  These are bi-partisan members that came up with the plan.  The children deserve benefits afforded by a system focused on education.  Instead, the children and the teachers are currently getting the crumbs left over by the ISD bureaucracy.  It is not the Governor, nor the legislature causing the problem for the local schools.   It is time for the parents, grandparents, and taxpayers in general to stand up and say ENOUGH!

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Education Reform Underway in Texas

Posted on March 10, 2011. Filed under: education, Texas | Tags: , , |

There have been a lot of wakeup calls during the past few years in America.  In Texas, we have learned there are major problems in our education.  There are people in the ISD’s who are given a $61,000 King Ranch truck to drive for their purposes.  In other ISD’s manicures were paid for by the taxpayer.  What is wrong?  What are we doing?  

We have a bloated education budget for the state that has not improved our overall education system.  What has occurred is a lot of administration has been added at local level with large salaries and amazing perks.  This has done nothing for the actual education of the children.  It has lined the pockets of many greedy, self-centered individuals.  Looking at elimination of bloat, and innovative new ideas for our schools, there is no reason to cut any teacher’s jobs.  This would result in an efficient school system that directly benefits the children.

This is a short, to the point blog.  The intent is to share a few sources for everyone to get involved in the transformation of their ISD and in the state education system.  

Actions to take and resources to utilize:

1.  Find qualified new people to run for local school boards  and the state school board.

2.  Attend all school board meetings.

3.  Look at the school budget to see what is going on in the district.

The following resources are for education/assistance/ideas in resolving the bloating education budget in Texas:

1.  The Red Apple Project has gone live with a brandnew website that focuses on ideas/information for education reform.  It is sponsored by the Texas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity.  It is an amazing resource.  I’ve spent the last hour on the site, and realize this is a first for our state.  Kudos to Americans for Prosperity.  Ck it out to learn more about your school ISD:  http://www.americansforprosperity.org/021511-grassroots-resource-talking-points-education-spending-texas

2.  The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a thinktank in Texas that focuses on research that helps to further best practices in Texas state policies.   http://www.texaspolicy.com/publications.php?cat_level=1

3.  Governor Rick Perry gave his state of the state speech in January.  His speech gave many new ideas for efficient, high quality education without the current high costs.  http://www.rickperry.org/issues/education

Citizens of Texas who care about the future of education and the future of Texas have a multitude of resources to get involved, and help with the transformation of education for Texans.  Time to roll up our sleeves, and get to it!

It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.

Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America
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Innovation is Key for Texas

Posted on February 9, 2011. Filed under: Economy, government, Healthcare, Politics | Tags: , , , , , |

Today was the annual State of the State speech given by Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Throughout the year people have seen the lists declaring Texas is rated great for business, jobs, and quality of life.   The speech given earlier today in the State Legislature was indicative of the why.  Texas, like so many of the states is facing challenges primarily due to unfunded Federal Mandates and a flagging national economy.  Listeners heard dozens of ideas on how Texas will effectively manage the challenges in tough times.  The core of Texas is strong, and the following ideas were offered as evidence that the state government is working hard to insulate Texans as much as possible from the deficit battles at national level.

Rather than bore my readers with rhetoric, I will attempt to list the ideas given today by the Governor that will ensure Texas remains high on the list of desirable places to live.

Budget

  1. Each group/division that receives monies, will need to justify their fiscal viability.
  2. Duplicity in different departments will be either eliminated or merged functionally.
  3. Non-Critical groups that receive monies will be suspended for two years (no monies given).
  4. Push Washington to have a balanced budget amendment added to the Constitution.

Education

  1. Begin using “Outcomes-based funding” for undergraduate institutions. The funding would no longer be based on the number of students, but be based instead on the number of degrees awarded to students.
  2. Tie high school diplomas and GED’s to the Driver license.  A person would need to be enrolled in a high school or obtain a GED to get their license.
  3. Encourage a sharing of services between school districts to lessen the overhead costs.
  4. All school districts need to lessen their expenditures.
  5. Challenge the institutions of higher education to develop bachelor degrees that cost no more than $10,000, including textbooks.
  6. Leverage web-based instruction for high schools and others across the state.
  7. Congressman Doggett’s legislation is taking $830M from Texas School Children and we should encourage our Congressman to repeal this legislation.

Jobs

  1. Continue to lobby for businesses to come to Texas and increase the number of jobs in the state.
  2. Veterans are an untapped source of expertise that will be a great addition to the workforce – don’t forget them!
  3. Other state governors are now actively adopting the Texas model of making regulations that are good for business.

 Border

  1. Sanctuary cities must be abolished so the law enforcement can do their work
  2. Law enforcement should be able to ask for documentation for anyone who has been detained on criminal charges
  3. It is critical we work closely with Mexico to fight the violence of the drug cartels
  4. Human Trafficking is a big problem in Texas and we have two legislators who are continuing to lead the charge in this area.  They are Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Randy Weber. Stronger sentencing needs to be available for these offenses.  Proposed is 25 years minimum for first offenders and life without parole for repeat offenders.
  5. Washington continues to neglect their responsibility for the border.  Numerous efforts have been made to communicate the urgent need of help on the border to get the drug cartels under control.  Texas continues to need 1,000 National Guard Troops on the border as well as drone planes to aide our efforts.

Healthcare

The Obamacare legislation will cripple Texan’s  healthcare, and the end result will devastate the state budget.  Attorney General Greg Abbott is using every tool at his disposal to fight this example of government overreach.  We have several pieces of legislation  proposed which will help to protect the citizens of Texas in this area.  One bill that is proposed by Texas representative Creighton states it is unconstitutional to mandate a citizen purchase health insurance.  There are several other bills filed which propose innovative healthcare solutions for Texans.

EPA

Texas is being punished for doing a good job.  The  proactive efforts to improve air quality yielded good results and still created more jobs in the process.  The EPA has continued to try and penalize Texas for doing a good job.  This is a political ploy to usurp state rights.  Note from author:  Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed legislation against the EPA.

There were positive ideas in this speech, and credit was given to several legislators in the state for their progressive ideas and strong bill proposals.  It was clear that Texas has an A team  fighting on all fronts to maintain quality of life, increase jobs, and protect citizens as much as humanly possible. 

God bless Texas.

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