Local school boards seldom represent the community that elected them to serve. Rather, they get their direction from policies created by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and the state’s superintendents’ consortiums. TASA and TASB are taxpayer-funded lobbying groups that support the progressive agendas of Texas’ education establishment. Further, TASA and TASB often oppose the policies of Texas’ designated education oversight organizations: the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board of Education (SBOE), as well as opposing and even ignoring laws passed by the Texas legislature.
TASB membership dues for all RISD board members are paid with taxpayer-supplied district funds.
In 2008, TASA released its document, “Creating a new vision for Public Education in Texas”. A key item in the 2008 TASA vision reads:
“Attention of leaders is focused on the dominant social systems that govern behavior, beginning with those that clarify beliefs and direction…..”,
It is clear in the document that academics are to be pushed aside in favor of certain “social systems” that reflect TASA’s progressive set of values and vision.
Richardson ISD adopted the TASA vision in January, 2010. RISD’s state academic ranking had steadily improved from #384 for the 2003-04 school year, to #110 for the 2008-09 school year. Since adoption of the “Vision”, RISD’s ranking has declined yearly to #413 in the 2014-2015 school year.
Richardson’ ISD’s recent superintendent Kay Waggoner was president of TASA during 2006-2007. Ms. Waggoner was a key member of the North Texas Superintendents Consortium, an alliance of nine North Texas school districts: Allen, Coppell, Frisco, Highland Park, Lewisville, McKinney, Northwest, Plano, and Richardson.
Bottom line, the Consortium advocates using our Texas students as experimental laboratory rats, in their search for some elusive educational utopia. We shall see in the next section that, when the consortium’s principles are translated into teaching strategies at the school district level, they become common core-related. Although common core curriculum is prohibited in Texas, common core related teaching strategies are nevertheless being implemented behind the curtain of public scrutiny. As these unproven teaching strategies fail (Project Based Learning has been a colossal, expensive failure at Richardson ISD, causing student academic performance to decline), there is no second chance for the students, who will be penalized for life. Think about the generation of California kids who can’t read, victimized by educators who replaced phonics with experimental “whole language” teaching strategies.
Given the education establishment’s top down mindset and direction, it is not difficult to understand that local school boards are placed under heavy pressure to implement the policies of these organizations, rather than listen to the voices of their community.
School districts will respond that they do consider the will of their citizens. After all, school bond proposals rarely fail to pass. But in the recent Richardson ISD bond issue, less than 5% of eligible voters approved a nearly half-billion dollar bond, that included $60 million dollars for an indoor football field at each of the four high schools. “Early voting” locations were strategically placed at schools within the district, with hours timed so that overwhelmingly pro-bond PTA moms picking up their kids could conveniently vote. Conversely, the early voting schedule was an inconvenient, confusing mess to citizens without kids. One wag likened the district’s strategy to a local election on liquor policy, in which the “pro-wets” would place early voting locations at bars and liquor stores. Further, the RISD political YES vote campaign was financed by $32,500 in contributions from contractors who will directly profit from bond-funded projects. Citizens opposed to the bond simply could not compete.
At Coppell ISD, trustees used a “rolling polling” tactic to target district staff and other bond supporters in order to help pass its May, 2016 $250 million debt proposition. The measure doubled the district’s total debt and increased property taxes – and was narrowly passed with just 50.3% of voter support (22 vote margin).
Documents obtained by the Texas Scorecard show the Coppell district spent over $50,000 to execute the shameful targeting scheme, a cost seven times higher than if they had used traditional polling locations.
These examples clearly demonstrate that many school boards do not represent the communities they were elected to represent.
- In order to address school boards’ excessive reliance on TASA and TASB, prohibit use of taxpayer dollars to fund these lobbying organizations. Require school board members to pay TASB dues from their own funds.
- In order to attract a larger number of voters, move all school board and school bond elections to the November general election cycle.