In the mid 1960s, enterprising education proponent John W. Gardner and former North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford proposed a Compact on Education between the states that was endorsed by representatives of all 50 states and then approved by Congress. Today, the Education Commission of the States provides opportunities for education leaders across states to “interact, learn and collaborate,” and acts as a “comprehensive knowledge and resources on hundreds of education policy issues.”
Each state chooses its own commissioners according to the state’s statutes. In Texas, members are chosen by the governor. Today, those Texas representatives include: Gov. Greg Abbott, the Governor’s Proxy John Colyandro, Rep. Dwayne Bohac, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes, and Sen. Larry Taylor. This month, Abbott also added Sen. Pete Flores and Chairman Dan Huberty.
Given the latest legislative session’s focus on education funding reform, it makes sense that Chairman Dan Huberty, author of the session’s major education funding bill HB3, would be appointed as a representative to this commission. His leadership was praised this session from both sides of the aisle, and the consensus was that he led respectfully. He received a ‘Friendly’ designation from Texans 4 Public Education and an ‘A’ from Project Educo. Before he was elected as a House Representative, where he serves as chairman for the public education committee, he served on the school board for Humble ISD. This session, he sponsored several pieces of legislation for education advocates and stands as one of the experts in the House on education topics.
Yet three of the governor’s appointments are confusing choices for education advocates: Rep. Bohac, Sen. Flores. And Sen. Taylor.
Rep. Bohac received an ‘unfriendly’ rating from the Texans 4 Public Education rating, and managed to scrape by with a ‘C’ from Project Educo. His votes from previous sessions don’t instill confidence in educators. While he voted for HB3, his focus on school choice leaves many disappointed. This session Bohac voted against increasing special education allotment, against transparency for charter schools, and against allowing public schools autonomy to contract for services with groups. While he claims support for public education on his campaign website, his votes don’t live up to that rhetoric.
New appointee Sen. Flores received an ‘F’ from Project Educo and an ‘Unfriendly’ rating from Texans 4 Public Education. This session, Sen. Flores didn’t have to defend any previous votes as a freshman, and he supported HB3 in its final form. However, after the 86th legislative session, Flores may need to defend voting to divert public education funds and stopping local autonomy for districts to contract with groups. In addition, he voted against removing STAAR testing requirements, removing teacher merit pay requirements, and removing outcomes based funding for public schools.
Sen. Taylor serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, but received an ‘F’ from Project Educo and an ‘Unfriendly’ rating from Texans 4 Public Education. That irony aside, he voted for HB3 in the Senate, which is promising. However, his record of voting for diverting public education funds and stopping local autonomy for districts to contract with groups doesn’t make him a successful education advocate. In addition, he voted against removing STAAR testing requirements, removing teacher merit pay requirements, and removing outcomes based on funding for public schools.
With so many qualified former educators and pro-education advocates representing Texans in the state House and Senate, some question why Gov. Abbott chose these members of his party to represent Texas education nationally as education leaders.