HISD's Harvin Moore: Nothing 'Heroic' About Gutting Education

Houston ISD trustee Harvin Moore has just issued his third in a series of columns on the Texas education funding crisis, and this time he examines whether all the public funding woes can be laid at the feet of so-called inefficiencies.

His column, which first appeared in the Examiner newspapers, raises the issue of possible efficiencies that HISD and other districts might consider, such as: "reduction or elimination of the salary supplement for masters degrees in education, which have consistently been found to have no average positive effect on achievement; charging bus transportation for families who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch, and reducing absenteeism of teachers, which reduces the cost of substitutes who must be paid in addition to the regular teacher."

Toward the end of this column, he writes:

Sadly, some Legislators are proudly saying they have passed a budget that "stays within our means" - even though the Legislature created those means by their funding formulas, supplantation of State education spending with federal funds, numerous exemptions from State taxes and fees to many industries, and the fateful 2006 property tax swap.

There is nothing heroic or statesmanlike about balancing the budget by drastically cutting public education. The quality of our elected leaders, and our society as a whole, is not demonstrated in times of surplus. It is instead demonstrated by the actions we take in times of trouble, when our priorities and values become clear. A quest for efficiency is an essential part of any funding discussion during difficult times. But while increased efficiency is a part of the solution, it is utterly disingenuous to suggest efficiency is the full solution.

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing