08 May 2009

Texas State Board of Education powers likely to stay

The Dallas Morning News reports that many bills intended to curb the power of the Texas State Board of Education are dying in the legislature.

A significant reason is the pressure that grassroots GOP and conservative groups are applying to lawmakers to maintain the Republican-dominated board's authority.

Evidence of that pressure came this week, when the House initially approved a bill to “sunset” the education board – subjecting it to a top-to-bottom review by legislators – only to turn around a day later and kill the measure in one of the chamber’s most partisan votes of the year. ...

Of the various bills that would remove or alter the current powers of the education board, only one has passed either house – a proposal by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, that would strip the board of authority over the $18 billion Permanent School Fund. Earnings from the fund, made up of stocks and other investments, are used to purchase textbooks and other materials.

Chair of the Board Don McLeory, however, is not likely to remain chair much longer.

Confirmation requires a two-thirds vote, or at least 21 of 31 senators. Democrats now hold 12 seats – enough to block confirmation.

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