Columns in the Fort Worth Star Telegram and Austin American Statesman are today demanding a special legislative session be convened on school finance. Their contention is “politics” has hurt public-ed spending. But a special session in an election year? That’s precisely the brand of union-inspired politics that hurts academic achievement.

The writers — Mitchell Schnurman for the Startlegram, and Rita Haecker in the AAS — are apparently writing from the same talking-points memo issued by the AFL-CIO’s “National Education Association.” The NEA is a union that has nothing to do with education policy, and everything to do with promoting bloat and opposing reform.

(Mr. Schnurman is a FWST employee, while Ms. Haecker is the AFL-CIO education union rep in Texas.)

They both claim the state needs a special session to bulk up on spending, despite the fact that the only real cuts to education are those which have come from Washington, DC not re-upping the one-time stimulus money school administrators apparently failed to spend properly.

Gov. Rick Perry has wisely replied, “We’re not going to have a special session.”

Public education spending makes up 60 percent of the state’s “general revenue” budget — that is, the portions of the state budget over which the state legislature has discretion.

The AFL-CIO’s NEA recently claimed Texas spends $8,908 per child — an outright fabrication based on political expediancy and not facts. That the union rep repeats such fallacious claims is not surprising, but a FWST columnist? He should be expected to check his facts.

The NEA consistently misrepresents spending numbers — apparently to make their political points. For example, in 2010, the NEA claimed Texas was spending $9,227 per pupil. In reality, the official stats compiled by the Comptroller show that state’s per pupil-total was $11,603.

Over the past decade, public education spending has increased far faster than enrollment growth and inflation. That money isn’t going in to the classroom. School administrators in turn have used those dollars frivolously.

Dallas ISD recently spent $57,000 designated for early childhood education to take all the 5th-grade boys to see the Hollywood movie “Red Tails.” That’s a classroom teacher’s salary for…what, again?

One superintendent recently said he would use new state dollars to buy a jumbo-size scoreboard!

The AFL-CIO’s affiliated Haecker says the state should “appropriate $2.5 billion” from the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the “rainy day fund.” Just imagine how many union-built scoreboards she could buy with that!

Public education has for too-long been held captive to the disastrous head-in-the-sand politics of the do-nothing while spending-more union crowd. Listening to them is a recipe for getting more of the same.

This isn’t the time to shovel billions more into an unreformed system. Frankly, it’s past time to get serious about reforming how we let school district spend our education money.

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