Tuesday, August 21, 2018

#TXLEGE: Abbott is correct about teacher pay; real question is whether he'll fight for it effectively....

"He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich."
Proverbs 10:4

Yesterday, Governor Abbott held a campaign photo op "education roundtable discussion," from which we learned the following:
Could Texas teachers soon be on their way to a six-figure salary?

Governor Greg Abbott is on a round table tour around the state, talking to educators about the idea of putting the best teachers on the path to earning more than $100,000 a year.

The idea is to keep talented teachers in the classroom by giving them more money.

Abbott says the plan would allow districts flexibility to determine who gets the biggest paychecks. He also adds the money will not come from an increase in property taxes.

"We want to structure a compensation plan that will put the very best educators on a pathway to earning a six-figure salary," Abbott said.

It will be up to the legislature to determine how to fund the raises.
One of Governor Abbott's more commendable traits is that he recognizes the difference between bureaucrats and teachers.  Last year, during the special session, Governor Abbott proposed funding teacher raises by taking the money directly out of the bureaucracy.  It was a worthwhile proposal, but it's fate is instructive.

During the special session, Abbott's proposal quickly passed the Senate, but went nowhere in the house.  That, in and of itself, isn't surprising.  But the dynamic behind that failure revealed quite a bit.

During the 85th legislature, any attempt to a) increase teacher pay, b) structurally reform education, or c) reduce or reform property taxes was met with an incorrigible, intransigent demand: MOAR MONEY FOR THE EDUCATION STATUS QUO!!!

To be sure, the house didn't couch it that way.  The house, led by Dan "hide the interns" Huberty, called it "school finance reform."  But Huberty's bill did nothing but pour additional state funds into the status quo.

And that's the problem.

Any attempt to fix any of the three issues listed above will be held hostage by the house to extort more money for the socialized education bureaucracy.  Period.  End of story.

The only way you might untie that knot would be for the Governor to deploy an inside/outside strategy.  The inside aspect would involve glad handling at the Capitol.  The outside aspect would involve showing up in members' districts.

Unfortunately,  Abbott's record on both sides of that equation sucks.  On his inside game, irritation with the aloofness of Abbott's office is one of the most common complaints at the Capitol across the political spectrum.  On his outside game, the one time Abbott tried to take out members, he was so clumsy about it that it backfired BADLY.

And that's why we think the teacher pay proposal he made yesterday, while worthwhile on the merits, faces a very challenging path forward.

Bottom Line:  Governor Abbott's teacher pay proposal is a good idea.  But getting it to his desk would require significant legislative skill.  To this point, Governor Abbott has yet to demonstrate that skill.

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