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Leticia Van de Putte on David Dewhurst's Education Record: "Short-Term Thinking, Long-Term Neglect"

by: Natalie San Luis

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 03:30 PM CST

Last Thursday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced the interim charges for the Senate Committees on Education and Higher Education.

Noticeably absent were assignments addressing some of the most urgent and significant education challenges in Texas: school finance and pre-K education.

On Monday, Senator and Lt. Gov. candidate Leticia Van de Putte called Dewhurst out for his "short-term thinking and long-term neglect" of Texas' underfunded schools.

Van de Putte criticized Dewhurst for ignoring crucial interim recommendations and forcing school finance issues to be resolved in the courts, not the legislature.

Read more about Dewhurst's education charges after the jump.

In a statement released by Dewhurst on January 9 claimed that he has "championed numerous pieces of education legislation during his tenure."

The 600 school districts involved in a school finance case soon to be reopened would probably disagree. In February, a state district judge ruled that the state unconstitionally does not fund schools adequately, forcing school districts to make harmful cuts and widening the gap between wealthy and economically disadvantaged schools.

But instead of calling on the Senate Committee on Education to investigate school finance reform, Dewhurst is again handing the responsibility over to the courts.

In October, Sen. Van de Putte submitted interim committee charge recommendations to Dewhurst, including the following:

Recommendation: Examine whether resource disparities correlate with disparities in state academic accountability ratings.
Recommendation: Review the 50-cent debt test as it relates to local districts' ability to provide facilities for increasing student populations. Evaluate positive and negative short and long-term impacts to a local community, including local economies, class size waivers and portable buildings.

But the Education Committee only received two charges: To review the STAAR and end-of-course exams, and to monitor the implementation of four education bills passed during the 83rd.

For comparison, last year the committee received six charges relating to student assessments, charter schools, disciplinary programs, and parental involvement.

Van de Putte also condemned Dewhurst's decision to ignore Texas' need for early childhood education opportunities.

Citing the Texas Association of Business report on the economic importance of pre-K, she said, "The urgency is there, the consensus is there, but the leadership is absent."

Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.

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