Will Texas End Federal Control Over Education?

Carole Hornsby Haynes Education Analyst
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Texas is leading the charge against the Obama administration’s May 13th directive that transgender students must be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their choice or face the loss of federal funding under Title IX. Put simply, the federal government will withhold funding for breakfast and lunch programs for poor children if this directive is not followed.

Shockwaves have reverberated across the country as parents, political leaders, and school districts have weighed in on the national debate. Though there are many concerns, the greatest are privacy and safety.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick publicly denounced the edict, stating that Texas will not be “blackmailed by the President’s threat to pull federal funding from schools if they do not follow his guidelines that insist teenage girls be forced to shower with boys and directing that boys and girls must share bathrooms, beginning in the first grade. The President does not have the authority to force our families to follow these absurd guidelines.” Patrick said that in Texas the President can keep his 30 pieces of silver, a Biblical reference to Jesus being betrayed by Judas.  

This is another step in the federal government’s long and determined drive to gain total control of public education and people’s lives.

No Child Left Behind gave us high stakes testing with federal accountability. Schools have been closed because they have failed — failed to meet federal accountability guidelines which include requiring 95 percent of the students to take the tests.

In spite of public protests over testing, the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act continues the testing mandate with 95 percent participation required.

It seems prudent to ask why we are even having such massive testing when no other country in the world does this!

Students are forced to eat lunches they don’t want — well, admittedly some have refused to yield to Madam President and just trash the lunches.  Mothers are told their children cannot bring lunches prepared at home because the school is the sole arbiter of proper nutrition.  

Students can no longer just calculate for correct answers. Not to worry if your answer for 4+18= 25. Just feel good about the problem and show your process in messing up the answer and you will receive a passing grade. Let’s just hope that Common Core math kids are not responsible for designing our bridges and other infrastructure.

On second thought, perhaps the bathroom and shower debate really is not the issue after all!

Just maybe Lieutenant Governor Patrick has it right. The President should keep his 30 pieces of silver – “free money” doesn’t seem so free any more – and Texans can return to the old fashioned activity of providing a well-rounded academic education for children.

According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Education Finances documents, Texas receives only 11.41 percent in federal funding while the state provides 38.55 percent and local funding is 50.04 percent. In spite of this small percentage – some states receive far less – the federal government exerts an incredible amount of control over education, which is forbidden both by the Constitution and federal law.

In Texas public education there is one support staffer for each teacher. Consultants earn high sums for offering still another “fix” for the problems the public education system created in the first place. Superintendents — dubbed the “high priests of waste” — earn lavish salaries and benefit packages, yet the quality of education continues to deteriorate rapidly. Enormous sums are spent on athletic complexes — legacies for the misuse of the public’s money — while some schools are forced into portable buildings.

Getting the bloated education bureaucracy under control will free up money that can be used to replace the nearly $2 billion that Texas receives from the federal government each year to pay for the breakfast and lunch programs. This crisis may well be the catalyst that drives Texas and, hopefully, other states, into forcing decentralization and regaining state control over education.