Friday, May 27, 2011

Local control of public schools

This week we learned from Superintendent Michael Hinojosa  during his visit to the Cobb County, Georgia school district:

"On hot-button issues there's going to be an elaborate discussion. Right now, the national funders are pushing Dallas to be involved in charters. I told them, 'I don't mind having a conversation, but I am not going to push this if my board doesn't want to go there.' My board. A body corporate. A majority of the board."

What about the citizens of Dallas and all the stakeholders of Dallas ISD - not just the Regional Chamber - have they requested this charter school push in Dallas?  Of course not.  Our citizens are treated as if they don't matter.

We also learned this week that the Georgia Supreme Court has recently declared the 2008 Georgia Charter Schools Commission Act to be unconstitutional under the Georgia State Constitution which gives "exclusive control" over public schools to local school boards. 

See National School Boards Association Legal Clips

There is a reason why the word "Independent" appears in the name of "Dallas Independent School District."

There was a time when public schools were run by Mayors and local governments and political bosses.  And it resulted in abuse of the worst kind.  The employment base of a school district was also a political base for office seeking politicians.

That is why public schools were created by the Legislature to be "Independent" and self-governing in Texas.  No one except the elected school Board has any legal authority over a school district.

It is good to know the Houston area contributions to Trustee Blackburn's campaign are not related to charter schools.  Still  the issue remains one of local Trustees being locally elected by the efforts of local citizens.

School Trustees are elected to serve the local community and our campaigns should not be overly influenced by large financial contributions from cities and people who have no stake whatsoever in the local community.

Of course there is nothing that prevents such individual contributions.  But there is something to be concerned about large campaign contributions generated from far away cities that might influence the outcome of a local school board election.  It simply threatens to undermine the important local control of public schools.

Whether it is outside charter money or outside other money, if large outside funds influence the elections of local Trustees, then local citizens of a community will lose local control of their school board.

Public school districts tend to the closest link to citizens and communities.

It is simply about preserving and protecting the "Independence" of local school boards so they will serve the local public interest.