Monday, July 26, 2010

SBOE Cannot Be Trusted With Money, Either

You might remember that the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) has been one of my favorite topics, usually because of its over-the-top thinking regarding school curriculum (e.g., demoting Thomas Jefferson, questioning separation of church and state, balancing Lincoln's Gettysburg Address with Jefferson Davis' speeches, rehabilitating the reputation of Senator Joseph McCarthy, etc.). The Dallas Morning News' Jacquielynn Floyd described the SBOE as a "whacked-out troop of underqualified ideologues ... [who] make us look like a bunch o' goobers in the eyes of the whole nation."

Not content with being goobers regarding school curriculum, now the SBOE insists on being goobers regarding money, too. Last week, the SBOE voted to raid the piggy bank for their pet cause. The SBOE voted to allow tapping into the Permanent School Fund, taxpayers' money that's been entrusted to them for investment, to make loans to charter schools.

After the jump, what others think of this latest move by the SBOE.

Texas Monthly's Paul Burka explains why it's a bad idea:
"You have to hand it to the far-right faction on the State Board of Education. They never seem to run out of bad ideas. This one is really terrible -- a $100 million loan program for facilities for charter schools. ... I favor charter schools, but I would not invest in one. I have read enough stories about charter schools going bankrupt, or shutting down operations in the middle of the school year, to know that some are very marginal operations. That comes with the territory. Charter schools are attempting to break new ground, to operate free of the regulatory framework that often handcuffs public schools. But that doesn’t mean that the state should use its endowment to provide facilities for them. In no way -- no way -- is this a prudent investment."

According to The Dallas Morning News, a minority of the SBOE agree with Burka.

" 'This is a very irrational move, to put our funds at risk like this.' said Geraldine Miller, R-Dallas. 'Real estate experts say this is a bad idea. This type of investment is totally unsuitable for the Permanent School Fund.' She said the Texas Constitution 'very clearly states' that money from the fund can only be spent on textbooks and other instructional materials. Voting with her to oppose the measure were Pat Hardy, R-Fort Worth, and Mavis Knight, D-Dallas."

I haven't always been a fan of Tincy Miller, but she's obviously right about this. Miller is a lame duck on the SBOE, having been defeated for re-election in the GOP primary for SBOE District 12 by unknown George Clayton. As far as I can find, neither Clayton nor his Libertarian opponent in the fall election, Amie Parsons, has commented on this latest bad idea from the SBOE.

It's a different story in SBOE District 9. There, Thomas Ratliff defeated long-time leader of the far-right ideological wing of the SBOE Don McLeroy in the GOP primary. McLeroy continues to serve (and come up with bad ideas) until the general election in the fall. Despite not taking over until the fall, Ratliff is not shy about offering his opinion about this latest bad idea from the majority McLeroy still can muster:

"So the proposal is for the government to provide low interest loans to customers who have little or no credit history, inexperienced management teams, and short-term licenses in an industry with a 30% failure rate since its inception? Haven't we heard this story before? Can you say Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? I find it ironic that a Republican-dominated SBOE is actually considering the creation of a government-subsidized mortgage company."
GOP voters made the right decision in dumping Don McLeroy for Thomas Ratliff. Unfortunately, it's not known whether the same can be said for the GOP voters' decision to replace Geraldine Miller with George Clayton. It's time for him to start telling us where he stands.

No comments: