Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rare praise

It's rare that I get to praise Gov. Goodhair (aka Gov. Perry, R-Texas), but I've got to admit he's had a good month. He responded as well as could have been expected to the influx of a quarter-million evacuees and now he's named one of the state's most prominent Democrats to a blue-ribbon panel on school finance. John Sharp lost narrowly to Perry in a Lieutenant Governor race in 1998; now he brings gravitas and a much needed (and long overdue) dose of bipartisanship to the fledgling effort to fix the school finance system. (One regular session of the Legislature and two called special sessions have failed -- so far.)

Within the next two weeks, the Supreme Court will almost certainly say the system is broken. Everyone knew it, but their decision -- and the guidance in it -- will lead the Legislature to try once again to fix the system. Sharp's presence in the process can only be a plus.

No doubt, how Texas deals with school finance could -- potentially -- be a model to other states that face similar challenges. For example, in Texas one in every eight children is in a special education program. One out of every four lives in poverty. And another one in four needs English as Second Language instruction.

These are massive challenges and no matter what my conservative friends may think, they're going to be expensive challenges to meet successfully. Of course, money alone won't do it. It needs to be well spent, targeted money.

Conservatives love to talk about "business climate." What business would want to move to or stay in a "climate" without a well educated populace?

Sharp and his soon-to-be-named fellow panelists will try to make sure that we don't find out.

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