in a normal world the 5th hour into a 9 hour house hearing–any 9 hour house hearing–finds you dusting your keyboard with Cheeto crumbs and wondering where all the Tylenol disappeared to. you don’t remember buying Cheetos–you don’t even like Cheetos. but you will conquer this bag of Cheetos and origami its aluminum laminated with polypropylene husk into a hat. you’re sure you had socks at some point.
. . . but not today in your House Public Education hearing b e c a u s e I T W A S
the beginning of the hearing was a bit of a blur because Belle was still on its first cup of coffee and Media Services was having technical difficulties while the members were saying nice things about the exiting chairman. but somewhere in there Rep. Farney started talking about how she was “one of the few who read all the written materials” which is usually the sort of thing you say when the lazy committee members are out of the room. quick count: ten legislators and a clerk. hmmm… a quick poll of all the people Belle knows in public education policy provided the following possibilities:
a) I usually stick to the Senate. (as does Belle.)
b) it’s Masha Farney, so who knows.
c) I’m not the type of person who voluntarily watches train wrecks.
here comes the Waiting for Superman Brigade which is basically a bunch of people who think this is what the average public school looks like:
F E A T U R I N G :
Fmr. State Rep. Kent Grusendorf from Talmadge Heflin’s Museum of Malcontents
Jennifer Allman modeling this fall’s uniforms from the Texas Conference of Choir Boys
* * * S T A R R I N G * * *
Jennifer Dantzler of Ink IDs on the sousaphone
on little piggy wanted educational savings accounts, one little piggy wanted tax credits, one little piggy needed the 1st Amendment explained in small words, one little piggy wanted to give just the special ed kids school vouchers for Consumermas… this little piggy was thinking that no one was going to shovel the horseshit and then she found out what Rep. Farney had been talking about–
side bar–a few things you should know about Marsha Farney: she has a Pothole Diggers in Curriculum and Instruction from UT and was elected to SBOE District 10 in 2010 to serve as a “moderate replacement” for exiting
book publisher born again sometimes maybe racist Cynthia Dunbar; but she was only really “moderate” when you remember what a loon Dunbar is. after two years she left for the House because, while it doesn’t pay much SBOE members get paid $0. she’s been a facet of the school choice movement in the past, but was defeated in March’s GOP primary because she didn’t school choice goodly enough after she took some time to read certain passages in the Texas Constitution.
Belle was just pulling the its arts and garbage smock on when Rep. Farney suggested that it might not be such a good idea to ask the taxpayers to fund private education options when the legislature was already required to provide public, free schools. which is a good GOP argument against school vouchers. but that was just the start–she was about to go all ACLU on the unsuspecting band campers–reviewing a litany of requirements applied by private schools from physical appearance to drug tests to immigration status which would be illegal if applied by public schools.
after she was done with ‘splaining to Steinhauser what “access” and “accountability” meant, she took Grusendorf’s notion of “trusting parents” out for a ride on the NOPE TRAIN with stops at Singlemother Withtwojobsberg, Child Abuse Ally and Fraudville; terminating at Crymea River where she fed him a nice picnic of how: spending Texeros would require private, parochial and home schools to cede some control over their curriculum so that the state could assure they were being held accountable for those Texeros–which is what most people who choose these options wish to avoid by leaving public schools in the first place. finally, she played a quick game of patty cake, patty cake, school vouchers increase inequity with Allman and Dantzler before taking a well deserved potty break.
Rep. Bohac finally got the talking stick. he was very happy to get the talking stick because he’s always wanted to audition for this band! he knows they’ll love his idea that schools should be allowed to compete just like CARS and CELLPHONES and CONCRETE and… and… other things that start with C? he even filed a bill that he swears was exactly. the. same. as some by Democrats except for the minor detail of his including a tax credit program because he’s got massive bipartisan appeal just like his mommy always told him. (the bill didn’t die because of the line, it died because it didn’t have a budget rider.) at this point he’d started rambling about courage and creeping out Steinhauser who didn’t think that reading was bipartisan because she thought maybe, like, it wasn’t partisan at all.
who will save Steinhauser from the Dwaynemeister? Rep. Dutton is who because hes’ been on this committee for 28 years. but he only saved her so he could bop Grusendorf on the head with the talking stick because he started doing his impression of Donald Rumsfeld at the Nuyorican and, since Rep. Dutton spent the weekend catching up with WaPo, he asked them if they were even aware that some private schools still discriminate based on gender, religion and race. before they could but freedoms Rep. Gonzalez was there to explain why she was not sorry about voting against the school choice bill.
things that occurred to Rep. Allen (an interlude):
these Barbies did not do their homework on Houston schools.
it’s a distinct possibility that Ken based his report on a table of contents.
hold the phone! Skipper thinks that she can decide what her taxes are spent on?!
[Belle, for its part, thought the part where
Skipper Steinhauser got all huffy about the proposals all being called “school vouchers” and said, “It’s like if you call food stamps a coupon,” was Dee You ‘Em Bees. Belle thought, “no, Twinkle Britches: it’s like calling SNAP, WIC and TANF “food stamps”!]
SPOILER ALERT: remember a few weeks ago when Rep. Huberty was trying to get someone to find him a Leprechaun to fix pub ed? well, he either found it or ate some Wheaties. he was all over their bullshit about 900 thousand students in failing schools because it’s 317 thousand and it’s mostly for lack of funding since they sent some to the charters in 2011 and it hadn’t helped make charters more accessible. no it had not. but then he mixed up his metaphors again and asked if the state should “use a shotgun or a rifle” approach to pub ed. oops. Belle will still give him a C is for Cookie for the effort.
Belle doesn’t know much about Rep. Van Deaver and Rep. K. King except they both represent districts where there are probably more cows than people per square mile. but Rep. Van Deaver was all over how the proposals would screw with schools under Robin Hood. and Rep. K. King said he had tried to speak to a Choicy McFreedomSchools about how the kids in Muleshoe, TX didn’t live within 100 miles of a private or charter school and the SMRT person had missed the Muleshoe question in geography class. this was all so fun that Chair Aycock gave everybody a candy and 5 minutes of free time.
Belle knows where Muleshoe is. it is in the Panhandle and has a lot of oil derricks and dairy cows. which is to say that despite having very nice people, it literally stinks.
during the break, Belle also figured out that we were playing “don’t say Dan Patrick, Larry Taylor or Donna Campbell” which is where you talk shit about them without saying their names–it’s a common and very fun game that lots of leges play and you may not be able to mess with Texas, but no one said anything about not messing with our elected officials.
when we returned, Chairman Aycock got his digs in. Rep. Bohac tried out his rendition of “SCOTUS Said Voucher’s Not A Dirty Word”, Rep. Farney threw a Politico article in his face. (since when has Marsha read Politico?) and Rep. Huberty asked why people who would not be named and TPPF wanted a voucher program without standardized tests when they were the same people who trucked out we measure what we treasure every time anyone tried to suggest maybe the stress of high stakes testing wasn’t a good thing for children who attend public schools. and this is the hypocrisies, no?
introducing the School Vouchers Showdown Singers.
SBOE Member Thomas Ratliff who’s daddy literally wrote the law on open enrollment charter schools and had Thomas and his brothers memorize every edition of A Nation At Risk from an early age. the whole family did an about-face on school vouchers in 2007. he shared his DropBox account with everyone so that we can all read how terrible school vouchers are and I don’t have to summarize his testimony. account: firstname.lastname@example.org password: pokethebear
(I assume the bear he’s poking has a name that rhymes with “Manny Robe“.)
Pastor Charles Johnson from Pastors for Texas Children who thinks, “Education is not a commodity and we are not clients, we are not customers. We are citizens and we’re engaged in a common good,” and that children should not be restricted from receiving the good education based on their skin color, community, cash strapped status, belief in Our Lady, the Invisible Pink Unicorn or what appears on their birth certificate.
with special guest…
Dr. Luis Huerta of Teachers College at Columbia University who systematically destroyed not only the card houses left by the Waiting for Supermens, but the mudslides they were constructed upon as well. you know those “gold standard studies” the Friedman Foundation fed the first panel at breakfast? funny thing, all the studies come with the same caveat in their abstracts: none of the results were consistent–in fact, all gains were outliers within the studies themselves and could not even be correlative because they could not be disentangled from other policy changes effecting the sample population which were based on #FACTS. and, as private schools are private, the government cannot compel them to submit data points so the research that we do have is sketchy at best. finally, he reminded everyone that equity is not a market value and read from the Book of Brown v. Board of Education.
sometime during the break, Rep. Bohac had decided to staple a “Kick Me” sign to his forehead and proceeded to have the snot knocked out of him with Pastor Johnson’s WORDS.
tithes are not tax deductible because it defeats their status as a sacrifice to the GreaterGood™ if you get to write them off.
one of the few things that schools and churches have in common is that they serve the GreaterGood™ so they don’t usually have business plans and quarterly targets and Pastor Johnson needs to see both Rep. Bohac and his pastor in his office for counseling on how they think both should be profitable.
Rep. Bohac squandered his potential to be a roadie for the Brigade’s next tour when he admitted that he did not think public schools looked like present day Aleppo, but, rather the living room at DJT’s place.
the rubes need to quit and drive a bus for a living because over in Singlemother Withtwojobsberg people don’t have the luxury of adding a 2 hour commute to their schedule so their kids can go to Pearly Gates Elementary over in Good Side O’ the Tracks Village.
Pastor Johnson got in his TKO when he was all, “I know your neighborhood–wealthy. I know your congregation–also wealthy. I know your pastor–pretty well off. maybe you guys should tutor some kids and host a fundraiser for your local schools rather than stuffing wads of cash into the g-strings of private schools and trying to send my Texeros there, too. and, by the way: sending Texeros to religious institutions violates the gift of religious liberty.”
thank you, sir. may Rep. Bohac have another? well, he does have two eyes which can both be blackened. SURE! this panel is in a giving mood.
BOHAC: why is it a ruse?
DR HUERTA: because many of the programs are subpar.
BOHAC: then why is there demand.
DR HUERTA: because they artificially create the demand by maintaining wait lists when they have open slots to make it look desirable. half the kids go back to public school because the charters are by and large not that great. there’s a few outliers, but most of them are crappy.
BOHAC: you didn’t provide any data on that comment!
DR HUERTA: I just gave you TWELVE PAGES OF DATA.
BOHAC: I’ve got research studies that say you’re wrong.
DR TEACHER: really? are any of your studies are peer reviewed? thought not!
we’ll let Dwayne sleep for a while while Rep. Gonzalez has some nerdy nice times with the panel. Rep. Dutton and Ratliff conducted a little bit of a side bar brought to us by the letters I, S and D in which they discussed how SOMEHOW an open enrollment public charter school in a majority minority area of Dallas magically got a student population that is 90% white (non-Hispanic) even though they’re supposed to be picking students by a random lottery or a lottery with a side of random. gee whiz! you think they could be a “white flight school“? nah, it’s probably a Random House lottery, Daniel. see you all after lunch.
notification of abridgment: this is already long and the bill implementation stuff lacked fireworks. if you care about what Dr. Harrison Keller or TEA Commissioner Mike Morath had to say about the implementation of HB4, SB317, HB1842, SB2804 or the DOJ’s letter regarding caps on special education enrollment being WRONG, it’s on the video from about 5 hrs. 27 min. to 6 hrs. 39 min. but it can all be summed up with Mikey is intimidated by Dr. K’s 48 pages of handouts.
A Children’s Treasury of Selected Public Testimony
• 80% of Texas PTA members would prefer to have choice in extracurricular activities, fine arts programs and athletic credit options. some alternative schools within the ISDs like HISD has would also not be out of line.
• Rep. Bohac thinks HISD is just rollin’ in dough. it’s not.
• Toni Clay from Athens ISD thinks Rep. Bohac does not know the definition of “courage”. she thinks it includes the teacher who notified her of the hearing before going to transport 6 of her at-risk students to various places for various reasons has more courage than people wanting to send that teacher’s salary to St. Austin’s Catholic School. KTHXBAI!
• the Righty McConservativeFace from the Justice Foundation thinks that school vouchers will end suicide in adolescents, free Texas from having to use federal education Ameros and prevent any further school funding lawsuits. certain salient details seem to have been replaced by tinfoil.
• several parents who home school their children would very much appreciate it if the Waiting for Supermeans would go fuck themselves with their school vouchers.
• Momma Bear Amy Hedtk and her boots think anything other than a tax-credit program being enacted immediately will require a 2nd Amendment solution. Belle would advise her not to threaten the legislators if Belle hadn’t heard Amy do this so many times before. now she’s just crying Wolf Blitzer!
• Peggy “I’m not with AFP” Venable had barely started when Rep. Farney had some questions regarding Peggy’s Tweeters and the repeated references to “educrats”. Peggy says is short for “educational bureaucrat” har har har and refers to the support staff… like janitors? Rep. Farney would like to know why she referred to Dr. Huetra as an “educrat”. Peggy acquires a stutter because she doesn’t think she called any of the witnesses names, she means she might have, but who can remember? it’s not like you can look at your phone to find out! Rep. Farney tells her she can go sit on timeout until she learns to R-E-S-P-E-C-T the other witnesses.
• Celina Moreno with MALDEF has been known to be good at the lawyering on education issues and today was no different. she explained that even if NV managed to get its school choice bill square with the NV Constitution, because the NV Constitution does not specifically reference public schools and the TX Constitution does, it would not be applicable in TX.
and that’s how the TX House Public Education Committee publicly executed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s (nee Dannie Goeb) dream of a school in every garage and a voucher in every pot.
farewell, Chairman Aycock. you schooled your committee well.