Texas Ought to Abolish School Superintendents Forever
A service of the Texas Public Policy Foundation at TexasPolicy.com.
Yes there are some good supers, but even the good ones are an anachronism.
They run our schools like schools. But they ought to be run like businesses.
Then, superintendents would be general managers; school boards would be directors; and teachers would be employees.
Parents would then be customers who would bring their children to a school expecting results. If the kids are not learning at an acceptable rate, or if they’re being indoctrinated, the parents would simply do business elsewhere.
Our current system is too opaque and too political. Like politicians, superintendents want to move up to larger districts and make more money. Under the current system, they can fail and get rewarded. It’s time for a change.
Case in point: Round Rock, Texas.
The nastiness going on in Round Rock is hard to describe. According to Texas Scorecard, the suburban Austin ISD is an example of what it calls “the local tyranny of the education establishment.”
Video: Sept. 18, 2021 KVUE-TV reports on two arrests.
RRISD has five school trustees that seem to have a desire to protect the school superintendent from the parents and taxpayers he is supposed to serve. They are: Tiffanie Harrison, Amy Weir, Amber Fellow, Jun Xiao, and Cory Vessa. These members attempted to censure two other trustees, Mary Bone and Danielle Weston, but this was blocked by the 425th District Court. Bone and Weston have taken the side of parents after RRISD used force to silence them.
The District, according to Texas Scorecard, even coordinated with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office two have two citizens arrested. One is Jeremy Story, who filed freedom of information requests but got no response from the ISD. Story says RRISD sent out what amounts to form letters to the Texas Attorney General listing some 36 reasons not to provide information, and hoping one of them might work.
Here’s what going on in Round Rock behind the scenes.
The superintendent, Dr. Hafedh Azaiez, has been credibly accused of demanding his mistress get an abortion. If she refused, he threated her with violence; presumably, he would take some action to stop the child from being born. The woman, who is likely an “educator” in the District, approached the School Board with this information. It was after that, according to Texas Scorecard, that Azaiez assaulted her.
Video: A June 15, 2021 report from KXAN-TV on the hiring of Hafedh Azaiez.
But don’t bother filing an open records request. RRISD will delay, obfuscate, refer to the Attorney General, and do whatever it takes to deny all such requests.
Why are the five school trustees trying to protect Azaiez? This is the system we operate under. School superintendents can do no wrong.
Texas public schools exist for administrators and educators.
This is the way it’s been for a long time. There are so many flaws in the system that it’s hard to list them all. But let’s start with the fact that the education establishment has embedded rules that favor the adults, with little regard for students, parents, or taxpayers.
When an ISD is searching for a new superintendent, it typically brings in a consulting firm at a cost of many thousands of dollars to taxpayers. The firm is often a lobbying organization called “The Texas Association of School Boards.” TASB is comprised of retired school superintendents who are living on fat pensions financed by taxpayers and who can make extra money at TASB.
The entire process is a sham.
It is by school supers, of school supers, and for school supers.
First, the consultants come in and ask for public input. The input is always the same. It always is precisely what the District and TASB is looking for. It is managed perfectly so that the standard school super always fits the profile.
Note that the general public asks the wrong questions. Every time. It never fails.
Then the consultants place want ads, and school supers looking to move up in pay start applying. Eventually a “lone finalist” is named and he/she becomes the new super, with a sparkling, high-dollar contract prepared from a template. It never favors the taxpayer. It is always a golden parachute. And understand that the new super will have to be run off in many cases. (See Round Rock example.)
Unless he/she is good at convincing the voters to pass bond issues. Any super who can do that is golden. And the system provides that unsuccessful applicants can remain anonymous so as to preserve current job and status. And salary!
This notion of “protecting” school superintendents is pervasive.
School trustees are indoctrinated at their TASB training sessions to vote unanimously in favor of what the super suggests. And supers get regular contract extensions so that no matter when they are fired (or if they are fired, if you prefer), they always float back to Earth on that most golden of parachutes.
It’s a sweet life if you have the stones to deal with irate parents whose kid did not start at quarterback, or the occasional serious journalist who dares to question the system.
What should we do?
Toss it. The whole system. It’s got to go. Public schools have degenerated into left-wing indoctrination centers with Diversity/Equity/Inclusion officers who exist to promote racism. So let’s turn the public schools into a business.
First, let’s open up the schools to companies that can administer them, or even purchase them. Then, they hire a general manager – someone with a business background who understands that a school is now a for-profit company and it must succeed. Then, run it like a business. If it’s good, parents will flock to it. If not, they will vote with their feet.
Each school might have its own GM. That would give parents a lot of choices. If they want more “diversity,” they can choose a school with a Diversity Czar. If they want better math instruction, then look for the school that offers it.
Of course, this would put the screws to a pretty good deal that school superintendents and consultants and DEI officers have. School lobbies like TASB would be forced to shut down because there would be no need. And it’s about time. The parents, students and the free market system would be running the show.
The U. S. Government cannot run a space program like the tech billionaires can. They do it cheaper, better, and far more efficiently that the government can. Say what you will about Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, but I’ll guarantee those guys could make our schools great again.
Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based author, broadcaster, and songwriter. Follow his podcast at https://www.PlanetLogic.us. Check out his author’s page at https://www.Amazon.com/author/lynnwoolley. Order books direct from Lynn at https://PlanetLogicPress.Square.Site. Email Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for Lynn’s new short story collection, Darker Secrets, coming soon!