Friday, August 26, 2005

Where Did The 65% Rule Come From?

While reading this Austin Chronicle article, Perry takes a weak stab at education reform, I figured I should start looking around a little. This looked like a good place to start:
The "65% rule" is actually a national campaign launched by Overstock.com owner Patrick Byrne, a fact that galls most education groups. They say it's an arbitrary figure based on whim rather than research.
Turns out Mr. it's all about the O, has gone off and created himself a think tank complete with glamour shot, First Class Education. Now it's got all the right endorsements. I mean who could reform education without the endorsement of Grover Norquist after all?
"The First Class Education Initiative allows taxpayer dollars to directly reach the children instead of school bureaucrats. Voters can AND will send a powerful message to union leadership. Opposition to this measure to increase funding for classroom instruction and more qualified educators will be detrimental to their general membership."
Turns out that this campaign has nothing to do with making schools better it's just another "conservative" campaign against unions. Here's how another great "conservative" describes the so called solution:
His idea -- call it the 65 Percent Solution -- is politically delicious because it unites parents, taxpayers and teachers while, he hopes, sowing dissension in the ranks of the teachers unions, which he considers the principal institutional impediment to improving primary and secondary education.
While it might do that it also does this:

Inherent in Perry’s spending rule is the faulty assumption that school districts waste their money on things unrelated to education. Like administrators. Or librarians. Or computer specialists. Or social workers. Or school nurses.
So it turns out the "65% solution" is not about schools. Turns out it's about...hang on...wait for it...school vouchers. I know you find that hard to believe. Ever heard of All Children Matter? Ever heard of Amway? Well Richard DeVos, billionaire and former President of Amway, who runs this pro-voucher PAC, is also running for governor of Michigan. And last year in Utah we got to see what happens when these two and a few other of these groups get together:
Certain Republican incumbents in the Utah House of Representatives were the targets of aggressive and sometimes vicious campaigns funded mostly by out-of-state donors.

Three Utah political action committees -- married by one issue -- were financed generously by All Children Matter (ACM), based in Alexandria, Va.

In fact, ACM's $ 252,000 combined with $ 50,000 from Overstock.com's Patrick Byrne accounted for 86 percent of the $ 355,000 taken in by Parents for Choice in Education, the main Utah advocate for tuition tax credits for parents who enroll their children in private schools.

The principals and major local contributors to Parents for Choice in Education overlap considerably with those involved with Education Excellence and Children First, which also promote tuition tax credits.

Those three organizations, made up mostly of Republican Party supporters and contributors, tried mightily to defeat Rep. Dave Hogue, R-Riverton, despite Hogue's credentials as a proven conservative and the support he received from most of his colleagues in the House Republican caucus. The reason? Hogue has voted against tuition tax credit legislation.
For our discussion the Orwellian "tuition tax credit" is a school voucher. Look out Republicans that voted against vouchers, the bell tolls for thee. This is a preview of what is going to happen in many Republican house primaries in Texas next year. The Houston Chronicle shows us some of their handywork in Texas already, and Williamson County's own Dan Gattis has taken $10,000 from All Children Matter. To see who they've given to in Texas just go here and next to Contributor type in All Children Matter and click search, it's quite an interesting list of names.

These groups along with those in Texas that already support vouchers will be spending millions in the Republican primary in an effort to take out those that are against vouchers and install those that are for them. As I pointed out earlier in the week, I don't believe that the last special session had anything to do with school finance. It was just about paying back big donors (Telecom bill) and highlighting moderate Republican house members to be challenged in the upcoming primary. If the Republicans get a majority in the legislature that will pass vouchers the defunding of our public schools will begin in earnest and 65% of nothing is nothing.

2 Comments:

At 10/23/2006 12:59 PM, Blogger Kathi Thomas said...

Your blog was just forwarded to me by a friend. I'm running against Jeff Wentworth in SD 25 (South Travis to North Bexar Counties.) Jeff introduced the 65% bill into the Senate last session, at the behest of Red McCombs- a big school voucher proponent.
A school board member from Dripping Springs went to Wentworth and asked him to specifically exempt transportation from the 65%, since, for example, DSISA has over 200 miles of bus routes, while Wentworth's "home" school district has less than 9 sq. miles! He refused.
The 65% rule is nothing more than a blatant attempt to fail more rural schools in the "financial accountability" portion of the state laws- if they fail, the state can take them over and turn them over to private entities. Can you say "ruining schools?"
Most Texas schools are already spending around 62% in the classroom. By forcing this 65% rule, they may be forced to cut bus routes, air or heat, or "go bare" with no insurance, and hope a tornado or fire never hits their school. The unintended consequence of this could actually force teachers' salaries up! Since schools can't control the cost of gas, electricity, insurance or natural gas, in order to have the 65% in classrooms, they may be forced to raise teachers' salaries in order to keep the balance. The question has to be, from where will the money come? I'm guessing that the proponents of the 65% rule never thought that far out, they just intended to shut down public schools.
Kathi Thomas

 
At 10/23/2006 12:59 PM, Blogger Kathi Thomas said...

Your blog was just forwarded to me by a friend. I'm running against Jeff Wentworth in SD 25 (South Travis to North Bexar Counties.) Jeff introduced the 65% bill into the Senate last session, at the behest of Red McCombs- a big school voucher proponent.
A school board member from Dripping Springs went to Wentworth and asked him to specifically exempt transportation from the 65%, since, for example, DSISA has over 200 miles of bus routes, while Wentworth's "home" school district has less than 9 sq. miles! He refused.
The 65% rule is nothing more than a blatant attempt to fail more rural schools in the "financial accountability" portion of the state laws- if they fail, the state can take them over and turn them over to private entities. Can you say "ruining schools?"
Most Texas schools are already spending around 62% in the classroom. By forcing this 65% rule, they may be forced to cut bus routes, air or heat, or "go bare" with no insurance, and hope a tornado or fire never hits their school. The unintended consequence of this could actually force teachers' salaries up! Since schools can't control the cost of gas, electricity, insurance or natural gas, in order to have the 65% in classrooms, they may be forced to raise teachers' salaries in order to keep the balance. The question has to be, from where will the money come? I'm guessing that the proponents of the 65% rule never thought that far out, they just intended to shut down public schools.
Kathi Thomas

 

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