Last session, former Democrat Texas House member Patrick Rose pushed a bill attacking the State Board of Education (SBOE), HB 710 (81st session). That bill lost and so did Patrick Rose in the November 2010 election.
Patrick Rose is gone, but his bill to place the State Board of Education under “Sunset Review”, has been resurrected by another Patrick, Rep. Diane Patrick, who is a Republican. Her bill is HB 862, and the relevant language is virtually identical to HB 710 from 2009.
This bill requires the State Board of Education to be subject to “Sunset Review”, which is a form of periodic review where a group of 10 elected officials and 2 unelected officials review state agencies and have the ability to abolish such agencies.
The sunset review committee describes part of the reason for such review to “question the need for each agency”. The SBOE is not an agency, though, and any questions that exist should be answered by the voters at the ballot box, not by 2 unelected persons on a commission who are not accountable to the voters.
Voters can decide on their own if they think elected officials are doing a good job – that’s the input you have as a voter. HB 862 strips the public of their role as a “check” on elected officials and their control over fair representation in jeopardy as well.
Democrats pushed this bill last session because they didn’t like the SBOE’s votes on curriculum issues. Just two years later, it’s hard to think of some other reason that this same bill is being brought forward, even if it is by a Republican. I am told this bill is about efficiency and transparency. Any arguments and need for efficiency can be handled by analyzing TEA. As for transparency, if you’ve been to an SBOE meeting you know that everything is out in the open and the public has more access to the members in process than you’ll ever see at the Capitol.
SBOE members have no state staff of their own, no state office, no state phone and no salary. They could harldy be more efficient and and transparent.
I’m sure the Austin liberals are so excited that Patrick Rose’s defeat has had no impact on their ability to attack the SBOE, so far.
Just another example of how this legislation does not honor the will of the voters.
If HB 862 passes, the SBOE would be the only elected body to be subjected to Sunset Review.
Diane Patrick’s office information (if you live in her district): http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Members/MemberInfo.aspx?Leg=82&Chamber=H&Code=A4050
Public Education Committee Information (if you live in the district of any of these members): http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Committees/MembershipCmte.aspx?LegSess=82R&CmteCode=C400