Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Superintendents On The Take?LINK
In Texas, we lead the nation in illiteracy and trail the globe in academic proficiency. Given the facts, why do you think Texas Public School vendors are paying our superintendents handsomely for their "so-called" expertise?
Hint, nobody thinks "expertise" is what they're really buying.
Texas School Superintendents like to refer to themselves as CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) of their districts. In a legitimate business, the "so-called" CEOs described herein would be unemployed. Unfortunately for Texans, our public schools don't come close to being a legitimate business, as such; Superintendents are provided wide latitude with little accountability.
A number of Texas Schools Superintendents have taken thousands of dollars each from vendors hoping to sell to their districts. In addition to the money, they're provided all expense paid trips to luxurious locations. Vendors in attendance soliciting a "consultation" from our Texas superintendents have included textbook publishers, food-service vendors, computer manufacturers and others. While hidden away at these fully paid vendor retreats, our hard working Texas superintendents are "consulting" for cash and benefits.
Let's stop for a minute.
These Texas superintendents are part of the same crowd that, according to the Intercultural Development Research Association, led the nation in the production of adult illiterates. These Texas superintendents are part of the same crowd that, according to "The Condition of Education 2004" published by the National Center For Educational Statistics
, produces high school graduates requiring remediation at a rate 100% higher than the national average. These Texas superintendents are part of the same crowd that opposes Texas parents, children and Educators in their desire to extract themselves from their pervasive incompetence, i.e., the superintendents reject the accountability afforded by fully funded Texas educational vouchers.
Given their abysmal performance, we wonder what actual contributions these "so-called consultants" were making? I'd like to know what kind of "consulting" was required of our superintendents by the food-service vendors? Did they discuss napkins, paper or cloth? If not that, then what?
Getting started again.
These superintendents, along with the rest of the Texas public education establishment, have created the maximum number of illiterates and the least capable college matriculants in the United States. In spite of this, we're to believe that vendors seeking lucrative contracts with the Texas School Districts they lead are solicitous ONLY of their expertise.
Who would have thought we were suffering from a shortage of illiterates?
Let's name some names.
According to a July 23, 2004 Dallas Morning News article, a recent group of Superintendents and High Level Administrators tapped for "consulting" included:
Annette Griffin, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
Nadine Kujawa, Aldine ISD
Bill McKinney, Region IV education Service Center (Houston)
Leonard Merrell, Katy ISD
Hector Montenegro, Ysleta ISD
Mike Moses, Dallas ISD
Ruben Olivarez, San Antonio ISD
Doug Otto, Plano ISD
Rick Schneider, Pasadena ISD
Kevin Singer, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD
Keith Sockwell, Northwest ISD
Jim Surratt, Klein ISD
In the same Dallas Morning News article, two superintendents commented.
Plano ISD's Doug Otto is quoted as saying:
"If a company comes here to sell, it's here for the wrong reasons. If it's a good product, it stands on its own."
Later in the article, Mr. Mike Kneal had this to say about the vendors and the "consulting" they required from our Texas superintendents.
"The companies set the agenda. They can request the superintendents they want on their panel based on district size, geography or desire to gain more business in a certain district. "
Mr. Kneal, a former superintendent himself, is the owner of Educational Research and Development Institute
(ERDI). ERDI is the company setting up the lucrative deals for our "consulting" superintendents.
Despite whatever "consulting" services Superintendent Otto thinks he's providing, per the vendors and the company paying him his "consulting" fee, the only reason he's there is to purchase products from the people that paid for his road trip.
What about the other "consulting" superintendent who commented on the record? That would be Superintendent Annette Griffin of Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD who said:
"I'm looking for the magic bullet."
Newsflash for Dr. Griffin, educating children is not accomplished by magic bullets. It's accomplished by hard work. If Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD is going to educate anyone, they're going to need a directed, dedicated, diligent superintendent. I wish them well in their search.
Dr. Griffin, please direct your accounts payable department to forward my $15,000.00 consulting fee to Dave Zenker c/o Texas Journal. Thank you.
Is any of this illegal? No. How about unethical? Sure, it's unethical for everyone EXCEPT Texas superintendents.
For example, in the Texas Administrative Code rule 247.2(b)(4) it says:
"The educator shall accept no gratuities, gifts or favors that impair professional judgment."
Does anyone really think that our Texas superintendents could be bought for thousands and thousands of dollars in "consulting" fees and vendor paid trips to exotic resorts twice a year?
This partial excerpt is from the Texas State Board of Education guidelines for accepting gifts from vendors.
SBOE Member may not accept:
Loans, cash or negotiable instruments.
Travel or lodging for a pleasure trip.
Entertainment worth more than $50.00 for a calendar year.
Once again, the guidelines are not applicable. The "consultants" are not Texas State Board of Education Members. They're Texas superintendents. They're the CEOs of their districts. Apparently, they can take anything from anybody anywhere anytime. In return for their "consulting" fees, they'll share their expertise by showing vendors how to produce more illiterates and more remedial college students faster than anyone dreamed possible.
We've written about two of our "consulting" superintendents previously. Both of these Texas Educrats are capable of producing far more than illiterates. For example:
Doug Otto of Plano might consult interested vendors on how to protect their companies from the scourge of Christmas. For details, Click Here
Ruben Olivarez of San Antonio might consult on preparing written reprimands to six-figure administrators accused of Hustling The Homeless. For details: Click Here
Aside from the grotesque appearance of impropriety of Texas School Superintendents taking cash, trips and other goodies funded by fees from any and all vendors able to pay the cost of entry charged by ERDI, we're personally aware of no malfeasance by any Texas School Superintendent.
Having said that, how reprehensible is the conduct of these Texas superintendents?
Texas School Superintendents each make well over $100,000 dollars a year in cash, benefits and perks. There are 1,039 Texas school districts. Each district has its own so-called CEO. Collectively we pay these people hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yet, we can't trust them to show the same sense of propriety you'd demand from an accounts payable clerk. If any of our so-called consultants were compelled to work for a legitimate business, their career as CEO would be unceremoniously terminated.
Further, even though we pay our so-called CEOs hundreds of millions of dollars, their collective performance is wretched. By any objective standard, Texas is at the bottom of the educational heap. Texas is the illiterate capital of the free world. Despite this ignoble accomplishment these so-called CEOs, who are supposed to be working for us full time, have lots and lots of free time to buzz off to vendor retreats for cash and fun in the sun.
Is it illegal? No. It's the Texas Public School System.
Texas Public Schools are not unique. Similar activities go on all the time in both the public and private sectors. However, in the private sector, you can walk away from the crooks and non-performing companies. In the private sector they don't have a statutory claim on your cash.
Tens of thousands of Texans are catching on. They're beginning to ask obvious questions such as:
"Given the deplorable performance and questionable ethics of Texas Public Schools, why aren't we permitted alternatives?"
"Texas Public Schools don't work, why are we paying them?
The private sector already picks up the pieces of Texas Public Schools. Texans presently pay millions of dollars and spend countless hours working with competent Educators from caring organizations like Sylvan, Kumon, Score and Huntington. These remedial Educators work with Texas parents desperate to undo the damage inflicted on their children by Texas Public Schools.
Wouldn't it be nice if Texans could purchase services from competent Educators first, rather than after the damage was done?
Every man, woman and child in Texas contributes more than $1,500 to fund Texas Public Schools. What if that money wasn't wasted? What if that money were used to benefit Texas children? What if you had a say in your child's education? What if you could walk away from a bad school? What if you could flush these so-called CEOs when you found them abusing their office?
What if Texas had fully funded educational vouchers?
Work with us. It can happen.
Texas children deserve the best, Texas Educators deserve the best, and Texas parents deserve the best. When parents control The Power of the Purse, the best is available for all Texans.
Contact the Governor, your state senator, state representative and your State Board of Education Representative today. Urge them to support 100% Fully Funded School Choice in Texas.