School bill not made in Texas
In a disturbing trend, HB 2 was not drafted by Texas lawmakers but by a conservative think tank in California. From Saturday's San Antonio Express-News:
The road to passage began in December 2003, when Gov. Rick Perry; House Committee Chairman Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington; and Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, asked the Hoover Institution's Koret Task Force to examine Texas school funding and suggest ways to improve the effectiveness and delivery of education in public schools.
The result of the task force's work: "Recommendations from the Koret Task Force, February 2004," was published in book form last year. Its recommendations mirror the language in House Bill 2, including rolling back local property tax rates, establishing a system of financial accountability for districts, freeing exemplary schools from state regulation and phasing in computer-assisted testing for state-standardized tests.
The report also covers school board elections, incentive pay for teachers and how to budget for textbooks — all points covered in the bill.
"It's no surprise that conservative politicians will go to conservative think tanks, but there should be truth in advertising. We should know where this came from," he (SMU professor Cal Jenkins) said. "We're really getting a Hoover Institution piece of legislation pushed through the Texas Legislature."
Kathy Miller, president of Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group that often challenges the GOP, said legislators should talk to constituents, not cut and paste recommendations from outside organizations.