Those who still believe that public school boards and administrations are magically non-political and values neutral, might want to take note of Round Rock ISD Superintendent Jesus Chavez' recent comments.
While addressing parents at a PTA luncheon last month, Chavez seized the opportunity to attack State Representative Charles Schwertner. Chavez emotionally prefaced his remarks by saying, "I really want to encourage you to understand who you have elected to state office!"
Apparently, Chavez is very upset that Lt. Governor Dewhurst has announced that the Texas Senate will take up school choice legislation during the 2013 session. Since Representative Schwertner handily won the primary election to replace retiring Senator Steve Ogden (and his only opponent in November is a little-known Libertarian,) Dr. Schwertner stands to be the next Senator for District 5. Therefore, Schwertner will have a strong voice in the public education reform debates next year.
At the PTA luncheon, Chavez went on to slam Schwertner on education reform, saying that anyone who favored vouchers was "not a friend to public education."
It is interesting that Superintendent Chavez is so afraid that allowing parents to choose schools will hurt his district. After all, aren't most parents perfectly happy with the great schools of the Round Rock ISD? Why does he believe that vouchers will lead to mass exodus? It is unfortunate that Chavez, who enjoys a salary of $260,000 per year, has so little compassion for less affluent families who need educational alternatives. In some cases, the local public school simply cannot meet the educational needs of certain children, but in other cases the schools are failing to provide an adequate education. Chavez and his fellow reform opponents seem more concerned about protecting the status quo than making sure all children have access to the education they need.
Of course we are constantly being told that the school district is politically neutral, and that we must not concern ourselves with the political leanings of school board candidates and the administration. While I do not believe party affiliation can tell us the whole story on a candidate, it is naive to think that political philosophy will not impact district governance, and tax payers should be aware of the millions of dollars school districts spend lobbying on political issues.
In publicly attacking the next Senator for the district, Dr. Chavez has clearly indicated he has no intention of putting aside his politics to work with Williamson County's state representation. I guess those politically neutral school zones aren't so neutral after all.