We can produce better education at a lower cost by ending school property taxes and “Robin Hood” transfers and fighting cronyism and federal subversion of our curriculum. This will eliminate the need for expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, crony-enriching testing while protecting our right and ability to own property and growing the economy.
Texas faces two critical problems: 1) our government education system with its byzantine financing structure is broken and needs a complete overhaul, and 2) property taxes — especially school property taxes — are out of control and should be abolished. These two issues vitally important to Texans are so inextricably intertwined that they should be addressed together.
For too long, federal and state courts have improperly dictated how Texas schools are run and tax dollars spent, with disastrous results. In addition, cronyism and federal interference (C-Scope) has all but destroyed Texas public education.
In order to preserve “the liberties and rights of the people,” our Texas Constitution mandates a “suitable provision” for an “efficient system of free public schools.” The State of Texas currently sends about $8,000 per capita from the Permanent School Fund and other sources, to school districts to meet this mandate.
By restricting taxpayer-funded services including schools to citizens (the misrepresented Supreme Court case of Plyler v. Doe does not prohibit this), the per capita payment would greatly increase to perhaps $10,000 or $12,000. This would satisfy our Constitution and suitably provide for efficient public schools.
Texas tax monies should not fund crony projects such as Taj Mahal-like offices and buildings, “TajMahStadiums,” or interest on debt. Nor should any Texas taxes fund “FedLedEd” (such as C-Scope/Common Core). We should allow local supplementation of the State of Texas per capita payment with up to a penny sales tax if approved by the voters.
Using this approach, we can end school property taxes and “Robin Hood” transfers, fight cronyism and federal tyranny, protect our right and ability to own property, and grow the economy.
An essential part of this educational overhaul is a return to local control. Government education worked far better in years past when key decisions were made by parents (the consumers), local school boards, and voters. We must remove obstacles to the re-establishment and effective use of this local control, but bar surreptitious influence over curriculum, instructional methods, and testing by the federal government.
One size fits all does not work for a state as large and diverse as Texas. Vigorous expansion of local control will unleash teachers, parents, and local board members to craft the educational experience that they think best for their students and that they are willing to pay for. Experimentation will thrive as one district tries vouchers, another institutes on-line learning, and so on.
With this approach, the barrage of tests — the only value of which is to comply with some bureaucratic mandate from Austin or Washington — will end, as will the other administrative nightmares and paperwork.
We can abolish truancy laws, which exist to maximize revenue from the state, and allow students of a certain age and their parents to choose whether they continue to accept free public schooling or not. As every teacher knows, a teenager who does not wish to be in school is very disruptive — depriving other students of the ability to learn and denying the teacher the ability to teach — and can even be dangerous. It is time for our teachers to be able to return to being teachers and not be conscripted to serve as babysitters or wardens.
Property taxation is a liberty issue as well as a financial issue. If you can lose your home, farm, or ranch due to unpaid property taxes, you are really a renter from the government, not a landowner.
Bottom line: we will have better educational services at a lower cost, and more freedom and prosperity.