Sens. Florence Shapiro and Dan Patrick were pretty forthright this morning about why they were sponsoring legislation (Senate Bills 3 and 443) to relax the 221 class size limit for K4 and repeal other important educational quality standards. Instead of paying for quality, as the state constitution requires, they are passing the buck to school districts and setting up local superintendents to take the blame when parental anger grows over larger classes, dropped electives, etc.
“If these decisions result in teachers being fired, courses being canceled, this will be done at the local level, not at the state level,” Sharpiro said during a meeting of the Senate Education Committee.
Patrick said he wanted parents, school administrators and teachers “to make decisions and take them out of the hands of the Legislature, as much as possible.”
Unfortunately, many budgetstrapped school superintendents are alltooeager to wave the white flag instead of demanding more state funding. When they inevitably are forced to fall on their swords, it will be painful, not only for them but for thousands of Texas school children.
Despite all the perceived popularity of “local control,” Article 7, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution makes the Legislature, not school superintendents, primarily responsible for an adequate and equitable public school system.
But legislative leaders are prepared to repeal quality standards – what the superintendents call “unfunded mandates” – while trying to wash their hands of the Legislature’s constitutional responsibility.