As we end 2018, I have a few observations as we look to the New Year.
We apparently have a new Speaker of the House in Rep. Dennis Bonnen. So far, the talk from all factions is positive about Rep. Bonnen, so we will see how he tries to do a very difficult job of making everyone happy when the new legislative session is underway. He certainly faces some challenges, as he has a history of standing up in the House to speak out about Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s extremist views. Now that he is part of the 3-headed leadership in Texas (Gov., Lt. Gov., Speaker of the House) it will be interesting to watch that dynamic play out.
The “School Finance Commission” wrapped up its work recently. As I said all along, this entire process was just a way to “kick the can down the road” to avoid doing something with school finance in the last session. Now, after a full two years of meetings, bringing in many “experts” and hearing all sides of the issue, the final report was a disappointment, but not unexpected. The two State Representatives on the committee even refused to sign it, because it did not call for the need for any new money flowing to education. Click below for a summary of the report from the Texas Tribune.
This commission was a clear case of “stack the deck” to get the results you want. The commission was filled with people who had their mind made up that no new money would help schools, schools are wasting the money they have, and what we really need are more tax cuts. This tired argument has been going on for years and it is this thinking why nothing meaningful is ever accomplished as it relates to school finance. There were some pro-education members appointed to the commission to show that “school people” were included, but in the end they were outnumbered by those whose minds were already made up long before the two-year process started. Good luck to Speaker Bonnen in helping to make meaningful changes to school finance. He has a tough road ahead.
Finally, each year as we broke for the Christmas break, I always reminded my staff of a few things. First, enjoy your break, recharge your batteries, and spend as much relaxation and fun time with your family and friends as you can. After a hard Fall semester, this break is much needed and much deserved!
I also reminded them, that although they would never admit it, there was a certain percentage of students in their classroom who could not wait for the Spring semester to begin. The classroom is a safe haven for many of our students. They feel safe, they are warm and well-fed, and they know they are loved by the staff of people at their local school. Not all students get this at home, and the school is where they literally find peace and comfort.
I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, and I am excited to see what 2019 will bring!
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