Dan Patrick

Worry about fake “education reform,” not “fake news”


Dan Patrick knows a lot about fakery because that’s what he peddles. You know, fake “education reform.” A fake “public safety emergency” over who uses which bathroom. Last year, there also was a fake teacher “pay raise,” which fooled no one.

Now, it’s kind of amusing that he is complaining in a campaign radio ad about something he calls “fake news.”

I don’t know what prompted this particular tirade, other than the need to throw some more red meat to his base, but it’s disturbing how much political mileage Patrick can get from whining about how he allegedly is “mistreated” by the news media.

“The press has always been biased against conservatives, but what we are seeing today is total disregard for the truth. It’s fake news,” he says in his ad.

Attacking the media is an ageless political ploy, and it’s much easier for a politician like Patrick to do than proposing a realistic solution to a real problem, such as…say… inadequate school funding.

The media mainly is biased against political baloney, and Patrick obviously has a problem with that.



Dan Patrick disputes the truth about his war on education


As the entire education community knows, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his political allies, including Gov. Greg Abbott, declared war on public education a long time ago. And by education community, I don’t mean the pro-voucher and pro-privatization crowd because they are part of Patrick’s army.

Now, stung by recent editorial criticism, the lieuteuant governor is trying to strike back by renewing his war on the truth.

Last week, the San Antonio Express-News published an editorial about the severe financial plight of local school districts, including North East ISD, and laid the blame squarely where it belongs – on state government’s failure to adequately fund public education.

Headlined, “The state’s war on public education hits home,” the editorial pointed out that the state’s share of education funding is projected to fall to 38 percent in the 2018-19 school year, which begins next fall, increasing the school finance load on local property taxpayers.

The newspaper also criticized Patrick for his phony-baloney (my term) proposal to provide property tax “relief” by putting crippling limits on the ability of school boards and other local governments to raise property tax rates for needed services, such as the schools that Patrick and his allies refuse to adequately fund.

Patrick, in a published response emailed to political supporters, struck back. Among other things, he denied that the state’s share of funding had dropped to 38 percent. He called the figure a “myth that continues to be repeated over and over.”

The 38 percent figure, though, is not a myth. It is a projection from the Legislative Budget Board, the budget-writing arm of the Legislature that Patrick co-chairs, of the share of the Foundation School Program that the state will be contributing during the 2018-19 school year. The remainder, 62 percent, will be borne by local property taxpayers. That’s even worse than the current school year, when the state is paying 40 percent and local taxpayers, 60 percent.

The Foundation School Program doesn’t include federal funding. But even with federal funding, according to the Texas Education Agency, the state, as of the 2015-16 school year, was paying only 41 percent of school funding. The federal government was paying 10 percent, and local property taxpayers, 49 percent, the biggest share.

The state’s share of education funding has been slipping and the local share increasing for several years, including the entire time Patrick has been lieutenant governor and Abbott has been governor.

Updated rankings released by the National Education Association this week show that Texas spends $2,300 less per student in average daily attendance than the national average, ranking Texas 36th among the states and the District of Columbia. And average teacher pay in Texas has slipped to 29th, $7,316 below the national average.

“The problem here is the state has done nothing to address its byzantine, antiquated, severely broken, but somehow constitutional, school finance system,” the Express-News wrote in its editorial.

And sitting at the top of that state government are Patrick and Abbott, who keep turning their backs on school children and local property taxpayers.

The only way to remedy that is to vote…and Vote Education First!

The state’s war on public education hits home




More school funding or a political charade?


A series of public opinion surveys, including two commissioned by TSTA and a new one by a pro- education group with business ties, make it clear that the vast majority of Texas voters want the governor and the Legislature to increase state funding for public schools. But, unfortunately, there is ample evidence that the Commission on School Finance will ignore the voters’ wishes when it makes recommendations to the Legislature.

A minority of commission members, including House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty, are likely to fight for more state education dollars. But overall this alleged “study” of school funding may very well end up being a political charade, and here are some reasons why:

# Most of the commission members, including the chairman, were appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both of whom would rather spend our tax dollars on private school vouchers than on an adequate and equitable school funding system. Remember, they both rejected the House’s efforts to improve school funding during both the regular and special legislative sessions last year. So, don’t be surprised if the commission ends up promoting vouchers and squeezing more “efficiency” out of what is left of the existing education budget.

# As attorney general, Abbott consistently fought against lawsuits in which school districts and other plaintiffs sought better state funding. Abbott hired Ted Cruz as his solicitor general, and speaking on Abbott’s behalf, Cruz once argued before the Texas Supreme Court that the issue of how much to spend on education is a “political question that the Texas Constitution assigns to the Texas Legislature and not the courts.” Cruz’s political views, which mirrored Abbott’s, were as ideological and ill-informed then as they are now as a U.S. senator.

# Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Scott Brister, Abbott’s choice for commission chairman, was the only justice to dissent the last time the Supreme Court (in 2005) ordered improvements in the school finance system. That act alone may have won him the chair appointment.

# Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, a Patrick appointee to the commission, was quoted this week as saying, “We don’t have more money.” Not true. State government has several billion dollars in its Rainy Day savings account and a thriving economy. What’s lacking on the part of Taylor, Abbott, Patrick and too many other like-minded officials in Austin is the political will to do the right thing for the school children of Texas.

# And finally but certainly not least, Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston, one of Dan Patrick’s top allies, is chairing the study commission’s subcommittee on revenue. Instead of advocating for more education funding, Bettencourt instead has a history, along with Patrick and Abbott, of promoting the falsehood that local officials are primarily to blame for high property taxes. This argument deliberately denies the reality that property taxes are high because the state does a poor job of funding public schools. The state’s funding effort is so poor that property taxes will soon account for 68 percent of the basic school finance program. Bettencourt has never seemed interested in pursuing the only realistic solution to that problem, which is increased state education funding. So why should we expect that now?

Not so coincidentally, Bettencourt also was an early participant in the campaign to intimidate educators from voting. He asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for the politically motivated, but non-binding opinion, wrongly suggesting it was illegal for educators to encourage other educators and students to vote.

The school finance commission’s deck seems to be stacked, and not for more school funding.




Here is why Dan Patrick and his allies are trying to suppress the educator vote


Here, in one of their leader’s own words, is why Dan Patrick’s anti-public education allies are trying to keep educators from voting. The following quote, published over the weekend in the Texas Tribune, is from Tom Fabry, treasurer of the Frisco Tea Party and a collaborator in Empower Texans’ voter suppression campaign against teachers and other public school employees.

“Voting in mass, they (educators) would influence statewide office and state legislative races,” Fabry wrote for Empower Texans. “Locally, the combined voter block would have the mass to virtually guarantee approval of tax ratification elections and bond propositions. All it takes is registration, indoctrination and mobilization. And it’s all being done under the guise of ‘civic responsibility.’”

There are 650,000 or more public school employees in Texas, and the thought of most of those educators voting in the best interests of their students and their professions obvously scares the heck out of Fabry and his accomplices, who have been accustomed to large numbers of educators staying home on Election Day.

In Fabry’s view, which is shared by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, only people who would shrink government and privatize public schools should be encouraged to vote, thus assuring the election of state officials who will continue to cut education funding and promote standardized testing and school privatization. And they shudder at the thought of educators going out and voting for the local tax ratification and bond elections that have become increasingly necessary to compensate for the state’s neglect.

Educators don’t need indoctrination. They already know how bad Gov. Abbott, Dan Patrick and their allies are treating public schools and their students. But many educators may need mobilization, beginning with reminders of how important elections are to education and not to be intimidated by those who fear them.

There is no guise about civic responsibility, folks. Everyone has a civic responsibility to vote, and in the case of educators, that civic responsibility hits especially close to home because, like it or not, public schools operate in the political arena. Whether you vote and who you vote for will determine the future of public education and how well prepared millions of Texas school kids will be for their own futures.

Fabry, incidentally, says he is a voter registrar. If so, he needs to learn that his own civic responsibility is to encourage voting, not try to suppress it.

Blow the whistle on obstacles like Fabry and his Empower Texans cohorts and make their fears come true. Vote Education First!