Michael Quinn Sullivan of EmpowerTexans.com posted on his Facebook: “The AP is reporting that SAT reading scores have dropped to new low. We’ve doubled per-pupil spending in Texas, yet test scores are declining. Who’d have imagined that?! Just waiting for the predictable “we just need more money” from the education establishment.”

The story, out Wednesday, was that national scores fell, even in those bigger-spending, best-education states. Texas scores fell too but actually held up fairly well for minority students relative to others.

The posting generated numerous responses including some oft-read but very wrong. Earl C. stated in one response that we need competition, he’s right. But in a later post he wrote: “…the TRUTH is that local school boards have VERY LITTLE discretion about much of anything these days. THAT has to change!”

Earl is wrong. School boards still have most all the power and, you can see that when you realize that districts with similar financial condition and demographics have hugely different scores on testing and have differing school cultures.

It’s true that ex-administrators teach most required board member training and try and tell them that their job is to go along with administrators but, that’s all bunk the elected should, and can, ignore. Texas school boards set most all the policies which matter to school culture (the learning environment, discipline, standards of performance, goals, etc.) and they hire all of the people who execute and enforce those policies.

Higher standards and better hiring of top officials by local boards would do far more to improve public education than any more amount of money. More money backing low standards, bad policy and bad hires, just gets you more of what’s wrong.

Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt has been active in Texas Republican politics since the Reagan re-elect in 1984. He has served as Lubbock County Republican chairman, and in 2006 founded the Pratt on Texas radio network, providing the news and commentary of Texas on both radio and podcast. Learn more at www.PrattonTexas.com.