As lawmakers unveiled the first draft of the 2012-2013 state budget, liberal advocacy groups wasted no time threatening teachers with the axe.

Is slashing classroom spending really where to start in budget savings? Perhaps, if your primary goal is to defend government spending rather than promoting the best possible education for Texas children.

Lynn Moak is an Austin-based lobbyist who works for school district administrators in finding new ways spend your money ineffectively. On his website, he brags that he “has been involved in virtually every major education finance policy change since 1967.” Not sure one would want to brag about that…

Mr. Moak described this year’s proposed budget draft by saying, “This is Armageddon.” (So much for keeping the hyperbole to a minimum.)

He and others claim 100,000 school district jobs could be slashed. But as TCCRI pointed out in its new report “Blueprint for a Balanced Budget,” there are so many public school employees in Texas that, taken as a whole, it would be the fifth largest corporation in the world. And half of those employees work outside the classroom!

So surely there must be some efficiency to be gained without cutting in the classroom?

Frankly, academic Armageddon would be preserving the hundreds of thousands of non-teaching positions while cutting classroom expenditures. If that is where they start, then it will indeed be a very cynical game.

If this occurs, perhaps it will awaken Texas voters to the fact that their public servants have forgotten who serves whom.

Firing good teachers is politically unpopular, because it is bad policy; meanwhile, reducing administrative costs are popular, and right.

Hopefully reason will prevail. We need the good teachers and principals to step forward and be the voice of public education; indeed if they don’t the legitimacy of their profession will be on the line.

Educators must not allow the grow-government crowd to make the primary goal of public school systems the employment of adults rather than the education of children. The kids are the imperative, not the excuse.

In tough budget times, the grow-government crowd can be counted on to hide behind teachers and kids, using them as foils to prevent accountability and thwart efficiency.

State dollars should be spent directly in support of the constitutional imperative to fund a “general diffusion of knowledge” (Article 7, Sec. 1). That happens in the classroom, so the classroom must be the primary beneficiary of the state taxpayers’ dollars.

Then, let locals can decide how many extra layers of administrators and deputy superintendents they want to employ; let local elections make that determination, not how much is paid to an Austin lobbyist.

At some point the tie to “general diffusion of knowledge” goes from direct to tangential, as we consider sprawling administrative buildings and layers of non-teaching “coordinators.” The state should fund the classroom, support our teachers, and ensure kids are well prepared academically for tomorrow.

Michael Quinn Sullivan is president of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. Follow him on Twitter: mqsullivan.


Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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