Lawmakers Get Failing Grade on Public Schools

Lawmakers Get Failing Grade on Public Schools

TFN Report Card Tracks School Votes in Regular Session
June 23, 2005

AUSTIN Four out of every ten House members earned the lowest rating “academically unacceptable” on a Texas Freedom Network report card that tracked votes on public education issues during the recently ended regular session.

“Parents would be up in arms if 40 percent of our schools were rated academically unacceptable,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “Texans shouldn’t put up with a substandard performance from their lawmakers either.”

TFN’s “Legislative Report Card” should help Texans judge which legislators are most and least supportive of the state’s public schools as lawmakers once again try to fix school finance in a special session, Miller said.

“We all agree that our public schools should be held accountable,” Miller said. “Lawmakers should also be held accountable when they support radical agendas that actually make it harder for our kids to succeed in those schools.”

For six critical votes that would have undermined the state’s public schools, 63 legislators received “academically unacceptable” ratings on the TFN report card. All of those lawmakers are Republicans. On the other hand, 86 lawmakers from both parties earned either “exemplary” or “recognized” ratings by voting for public schools. Three Republicans and 60 Democrats received an “exemplary” rating for their perfect scores on the six votes. Two Democrats and 21 Republicans received a “recognized” rating by standing with public schools on at least some of the votes.

“The governor and legislative leaders pushed hard to pass what was a truly radical agenda that would have undermined public education in Texas,” Miller said. “We recognize that it took no small amount of courage for two dozen Republicans and all Democrats to oppose at least some of the most reckless measures in that agenda.”

“Exemplary” House members earned their rating for six votes on the House floor:

  • against a provision in House Bill 2 that could lead to the privatization of hundreds of public schools,
  • against a provision in the same bill that would allow exemplary schools to ignore quality education standards that helped their students succeed in the first place,
  • against a private school voucher provision in the Texas Education Agency reauthorization bill,
  • for removing Fort Worth and Dallas schools from that proposed voucher program,
  • for replacing private school vouchers with a public school choice program in the TEA bill, and
  • a final vote against H.B. 2 because of the many anti-public education measures included in that legislation. H.B. 2 narrowly passed the House but later died in a House-Senate conference committee.