Yeah, I know, shocking, right? But seriously, I read Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg’s column about Sen. Dan Patrick’s speech on “school choice” at the Beren Academy and was floored by her complete and total misrepresentation. I mean, I get that she’s against anything that a conservative Republican would try to do to improve anything but why not just tell the truth?
First off, she spends most of her screed talking about charter schools. Fact is, charter schools were not the focus of his speech – I know that it was taped but I cannot find it online. Falkenberg rants that Sen. Patrick talked about 500 public schools failing but claims that he didn’t talk about the problems of charter schools. Flat out false. He specifically said that not all charter schools were doing well and that some needed to close.
This paragraph really irked me:
But there’s one more problem with Patrick’s use of the “500 F schools” statistic: I don’t think any of the parents at Beren send their children to one. They can afford not to. Beren parents may indeed sacrifice to send their children to a private, religious school. They certainly would benefit from a state subsidy, but they are not the families central to Patrick’s speeches.
First off, OBVIOUSLY parents that send their children to Beren do not send them to one of the failing schools. Bizarre. But then she proceeds to claim that the reason they don’t send their children to a failing school is because “They can afford not to.”. How does she know this? All Jews are rich? Really? Is that what the tolerant one is saying? How does she know that these families are not central to Patrick’s speech? As I looked around the room, I saw children of all races – where does Falkenberg get her insight from regarding whether or not they were “central” to Sen. Patrick’s ideas?
And if Falkenberg had paid attention, the reason that many parents can “afford” to send their children to Beren is that the school is able to offset some of the tuition costs by raising money. The entire point of the rally was “tuition affordability”. Some of these parent’s forgo new cars or large homes in order to give their children a better chance to succeed in life. Where does she get off discounting this?
And then she claims that Sen. Patrick is hiding something because she couldn’t attend a question/answer session between Sen. Patrick and parents of students. Guess what? I couldn’t attend either because…listen up…I’m not a parent of a child at that academy. Good grief.
She did get something right that day but didn’t include it in her column. This is her tweet from the rally:
“It’s immoral to force a student to go to a school that cannot serve them.” Sen. Dan Patrick on school choice at Beren Academy.
I guess that is an example, in her mind, of
playing people’s gut feelings like a gut-string guitar
The truth that it is immoral seems to escape her.
I’ll answer the questions she has at the end of her screed, straight from the information she was given at the meeting:
- How would a small subsidy be enough for tuition at a good private school? – The schools have private fundraising efforts to help parents close the gap between tuition costs, any “voucher” or “scholarship from tax credits” and their ability to pay.
- What about transportation and accountability? – Transportation costs can also be offset by subsidies. There are various ways to test the progress of the students – none have been taken off the table.
- How can we be sure a private school, or a charter, is better than what students have now? – Statistics show that private schools generally have better academic progress. Charter schools have had mixed results. Failing schools are not an option.
- What happens if it isn’t? – Then, as Sen. Patrick clearly stated, you close the failing charter school and start over.
This is not an easy issue. Misrepresenting the other side’s views does not help further the debate on how to improve public education in Texas.