The new leadership of the Texas legislature has a plan. State Senator Dan Patrick, the new chair of the Senate Education Committee, wants vouchers, more charters, and a fast track for closing down public schools. He and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst want to shorten the time that schools have to improve or close–from five years to only two. That should clear the way for lots of vouchers and charters!

Allen Weeks, who heads the Save Texas Schools coalition in the state, wrote an article about the privatization agenda.

He wrote:

“How many schools would close under their two-year axe? Based on 2010-11 ratings, 40 Texas schools — including six charters — would shut down immediately. Dallas would lose seven campuses overnight, including five high schools. Fort Worth would lose two high schools and a middle school. Lights would go out in rural schools like Albany Junior-Senior High School and Hearne High School, triggering long expensive commutes for students to neighboring districts. Another 490 schools, already with one year of academically unacceptable ratings, would likely panic. A second miss by as little as a single student, and that’s it. No school in your community, no football team, no jobs connected to the school — and no guarantee kids will better off academically. Once scores from the new widely-panned STAAR/EOC tests are factored in, the number of “failing” schools may easily skyrocket into the thousands.”

Folks, these gentlemen are not conservative. They are radicals. Why would any sane Texan want to destroy the public schools when there is a boatload of evidence that charters and vouchers don’t do any better?

Allen Weeks is organizing a big rally to support public education in Austin on February 23. I will be there.