With Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calling for pay raises for teachers by directing existing dollars into the classroom, labor unions have been staking out positions in opposition to the benefits as an “unfunded mandate.” However, many of these same organizations opposed legislation that would have repealed some mandates on schools just a few months ago.
During the regular session, freshman State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg) authored House Bill 3759 which would have temporarily exempted school districts from scores of state mandates such as public notification of available pre-k programs, recycling programs, and vehicle emissions and inspections. And the bill went even further, banning the state from passing any new mandates on schools during the current biennium without providing funding.
Support for Biedermann’s legislation was extensive. Two of Biedermann’s Freedom Caucus colleagues, State Reps. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park) and Mike Lang (R–Granbury) coauthored the measure and two Democrats joined them. And when the bill was granted a hearing, groups as diverse as the Fredericksburg Tea Party and the Texas Association of School Boards testified in support.
So who was opposed to the bill?
The registration list against the bill reads like a shopping list of far-left advocacy groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and CPPP, a George Soros-funded leftist think-tank, and others.
The opposition list also included all of the ostensibly “pro-teacher” organizations in the state.
Lobbyists for the Texas State Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of Texas Professional Educators, and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association all registered against Biedermann’s bill – against removing state mandates on education and preventing new ones from being passed.
Indeed, the organizations opposed the plan because with the regulations lifted, school districts would be able to trim administrative budgets and positions.
“During the regular session the same groups that are now asking for mandate relief also opposed my unfunded mandate relief bill, HB 3759, which would’ve made optional 20 unfunded mandates. The goal was to work with public school administration to ensure real financial relief would find its way to the classroom,” said Biedermann. “I was very honored to work with many educators in my district who would’ve benefited from this bill, but unfortunately most statewide associations decided they would stand behind the existing mandates keeping the burden on the very schools and staff they represent.”
The truth is, all of the state’s “pro-teacher” associations aren’t against “unfunded mandates,” they’re just another set of educrat lobbyists screaming for the state to spend more money in their field. Like most labor union bosses, they’re more interested in increasing their own salaries – and those of their administrative allies – than they are improving the livelihoods of the teachers in classrooms actually educating the next generation of Texans.
Meanwhile, administrators are overseeing bloated budgets where they spend extravagant sums on line items that won’t do anything to improve a child’s educational opportunities or outcomes. Take for example Midland ISD, with its recent job posting for a “PR director” with an annual salary range of $98, 416 to $127,814 – more than double the salary of most classroom teachers.
Administrative decisions like MISD’s illustrate just how much fat exists in most school budgets, and how trimming them and redirecting the savings into classrooms would allow them to accomplish a lot more with existing tax dollars.