Saturday, July 24, 2010

Millions for Charter Schools, But Not One Dime for Textbooks

On Friday Texas’ internationally famous state school board reversed itself and passed another motion that should endear themselves to media pundits who love to hate what Texas’ educational institutions are doing to their own school children.

They voted to invest $100 million from the $22 billion Texas Permanent Fund, a fund that is supported by the sale and lease of public lands, including mineral rights, and net realized gains from the sale of Fund assets, to invest in developing and leasing buildings for charter schools, which are privately managed public schools.

The Texas Permanent Fund is a fund that is completely overseen by the State Board of Education. Texas Charter schools, however, are answerable to no one.

Still, according to this article in the Austin American-Statesmen, that is what the majority on the board decided to do, spend public money for charter schools that are run by private companies.

They decided to do that instead of doing something that is more in line with the founding purpose of the Texas Permanent Fund, that is the funding of public schools, and in one particular case of interest, the funding of the purchase of school text books.

Because this year, facing a budget shortfall, instead of invoking use of Permanent School Funds to be used to buy school textbooks, the school board is instead putting off the entire book buying thing.

$100 million of which will now be diverted toward funding of charter schools, this despite the fact that 71 school charters were pulled in the past due to low performance, a rate that exceeds public school failures.

But this is the state you live in, you know? The SBOE was handed the Permanent Fund purse strings several years ago and no one in the Republican Party, the party in power, and the party that saw that handover take place, objected.

As this article suggests, all of that may come to a screeching halt next year when the State Legislature convenes.

After all, when you give a fortune in state funds to a band of kleptomaniacs you are bound to reap what you sow, and the only way to solve it is to snatch it back from them.

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