Criminal charges aside, Paxton bad news for Texas schools
I doubt that most Texans, including thousands of people who voted for him, could have told you the name of the state attorney general before he was indicted on securities fraud charges. Now, Ken Paxton has a higher public profile and a mugshot to boot. I am not going to prejudge the criminal case against him because he is entitled to his day in court. But even before his notoriety he was bad news for public education and still is.
As a legislator in 2011, Paxton voted for the $5.4 billion in school budget cuts that cost many educators their jobs, forced overcrowding of many classrooms and still plague many school districts. And, as attorney general, he avidly defended a school funding system that a state judge has declared inadequate, unfair and unconstitutional.
In a recent brief urging the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the lower court ruling, Paxton criticized the “experts and interest groups” (i.e. educators) who are trying to win a “public education system more to their liking.” Actually, the 600 school districts that sued the state are simply trying to win a final court ruling that orders the legislative majority to fulfill its constitutional duty to the school children of Texas.
Largely a political unknown even to Republican primary voters, Paxton won the GOP nomination last year by waving his anti-abortion credentials and claiming to be more righteous (no fooling) than his opponents. Then after conducting a low-profile general election campaign, he was swept into office on a strong Republican vote.
TSTA endorsed attorney Sam Houston, his Democratic opponent.