Day: <span>February 23, 2016</span>

School privatization group increases donations in key educaton race


Texans for Education Reform (TER), the Austin-based school privatization group that wants Chente Quintanilla to help it turn public schools into cash cows for well-heeled entrepreneurs, now has invested almost $300,000 – maybe more by the time you read this – into Quintanilla’s effort to unseat state Rep. Mary Gonzalez in the Democratic primary for House District 75 in El Paso.

A victory by TER and Quintanilla would be a serious loss to school children in El Paso and throughout Texas because Gonzalez, as I have written before, is a true advocate for public schools and has the record to prove it.

Gonzalez has voted to increase school funding and reduce standardized testing. And, as a member of the House Public Education Committee, she has opposed private school vouchers and other school privatization schemes. Quintanilla, as a House member a few years ago, voted for a school finance law that created a permanent funding shortage for public education and voted to increase high-stakes testing.

Despite its name, TER is not interested in real education reform. Its goal is to convince the legislature to expand corporate charter schools and experiment with other privatization ventures that offer its business supporters new investment opportunities – with your tax dollars. The more charter schools, for example, the more rental opportunities for TER members, etc., etc.

When he was in the House, Quintanilla also voted against strong regulations for charter schools, which operate with your tax dollars.

TER has contributed almost $200,000 to Quintanilla during the past month alone in the form of in-kind donations for TV advertising, direct mail to voters, social media, consulting and get out the vote efforts. That kind of support will be hard for Quintanilla to ignore back in Austin if it helps him defeat Gonzalez and TER comes calling. And TER will come calling.

School kids, parents and educators can’t afford to lose Gonzalez. With early voting ending on Friday and Election Day next Tuesday, Gonzalez can use every pro-education vote that District 75 has to offer.

Gonzalez isn’t the only strong supporter of public schools that TER is trying to unseat. Among other targets, the group also is trying to defeat state Rep. Gary VanDeaver of New Boston in the Republican primary for House District 1 in Northeast Texas.

VanDeaver is a former public school administrator, but TER has contributed more than $100,000 for advertising and campaign mail to his opponent, George Lavender, a former House member who voted to cut $5.4 billion from public education in 2011.

Education reform? Baloney.