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Riddle wants to abolish the HCDE

From Big Jolly:

State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-150) filed HB945 [last] week. If enacted, it would abolish the Harris County Department of Education, transferring control of the assets to the Harris County Commissioners Court, and giving the commissioners one year to liquidate them.

The brains behind this, if you can call them that, is former member Michael Wolfe, who was thankfully unelected last year after a thoroughly undistinguished term in office. I can see an argument for abolishing the HCDE as an elected office – it’s basically the same argument for abolishing the SBOE as an elected office, in that very few people understand its function and the districts are far too large for campaigning to have any effect on electoral outcomes – but where the functions of the SBOE could reasonably be assumed by the Legislature and the Texas Education Agency, there really isn’t anything in the county to do what the HCDE does. (If you need a reminder of what the HCDE does, see the Chron’s November endorsement editorial or this document about the HCDE and this effort to eradicate it; you could also listen to one of my interviews from last year.) A bill to create an appointed board might be worth debating, though no less politically motivated given the shift on the board to a Democratic majority, but this is irresponsible. It won’t save any money, and it will deprive schools, teachers, and districts of needed services. I expect this bill is an underdog to pass, but someone in the Harris County Democratic delegation needs to keep an eye on it.

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5 Comments

  1. Durrel Douglas says:

    Debbie Riddle always comes up with the best legislation. I mean, this is brilliant! Allow county commissioners to make education decisions! Can you sense the sarcasm oozing from my comment?

  2. [...] Look, I have no problem with HCDE hiring someone to speak for their interests, which are currently being threatened. It makes sense to hire someone who knows the players and has a rapport with them. Engaging Rob [...]

  3. jerry says:

    WHAT DO THEY DO?

  4. L2the6th says:

    The Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) supports the 26 independent school districts inside Harris County. It helps our schools, our students, our teachers, and our communities provide quality educational experiences to young and old which include:

    Head Start
    Early Childhood Intervention
    After School Programs
    Adult Education
    Special Education Schools
    Therapy Services

    HCDE wrangles federal and state grants that fund the Head Start, Early Childhood Intervention and after-school programs – programs particularly important to kids from low-income families…kids whose success is crucial to our area’s long-term health.

    HCDE runs a co-op, allowing schools to buy cafeteria food, school-bus gas and many other necessities at lower prices than any district could negotiate alone. Similarly, it allows schools to share the costs of expensive services, such as development of computer systems.

    Without HCDE, schools would begin paying much more for these services and that additional cost would then be passed on to Houston homeowners and taxpayers in the form of higher school taxes.

    Currently HCDE collects only $10-$12 per year from taxpayers which we multiply 5 times through our efficient use of funds and grant management.

    Additionally, HCDE provides county-wide competitions for all students in the sciences and arts with the Eco-bot Challenge and the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. These programs attract more students to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers as well as the arts. They are made possible by the many local and national business partnerships which support the HCDE and realize they are the benefactors of these programs which stimulate, motivate and educate tomorrow’s workforce.

  5. Immortal.Beloved says:

    As a person who degreed in Music Education, it is imperative that organizations such as the HCDE be kept and funded because they are essential to teachers who can’t or rightfully dont want to, spend their monthly salary on the implements of education. To even consider letting a group of government administrators decide what is best for students as well as teachers by further tightening the screws to a system already bereft of items and good personnel (let alone the training to make them better as teachers) is simply ludicrous.

    Lets give the teachers and their facilitators both the avenue and support of the HCDE instead of treating them like one more governmental fire sale which won’t do ANYBODY any good at all.

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