Sheesh. Sid Milller of our District 59 thinks there's no conflict of interest in voting for a bill that directly affects his wife's livelihood. Um. Hello! CONFLICT OF INTEREST LESSONS HERE! Here's what it is. Senator Shapiro has a bill that would reward good charter schools AND CLOSE THE POOR ONES. Guess which side Erath Excels Charter School in Stephenville falls on. Erath Excels Charter School has gotten unacceptable ratings in 2005 and 2006 (and probably would have in 2004 except it wasn't rated then). So does Sid Miller take himself OUT Of any debate about charter schools or perhaps, take the limelight off his wife's so-poor performing schools? Nah. He thinks it's fine for him to be offering up amendments against Shapiro's bill and even voting.
Mr. Miller said he has the same right as any other lawmaker to try to defeat the bill. Shutting down the worst-performing schools – those that "need the funding most," he said – is about giving kids education options, he said, not about his wife's profession.
"I have no intent to abstain" from the debate, Mr. Miller said Monday. "This is a broad topic, a statewide issue. Education is our No. 1 priority."
The Texas Constitution says that any lawmaker who has a "personal or private interest in any measure or bill, proposed or pending before the Legislature" must disclose the conflict to the chamber and not vote.
Except Sid Miller is above the Texas Constitution.
Until Mr. Miller offers an amendment, Ms. Shapiro said, "technically, he's still within the spirit of the law." But Ms. Shapiro said she still has a problem with the appearance that he's meddling with a bill he shouldn't be.
Erath Excels, which has about 115 students in grades nine through 12, has received the state's worst rating, academically unacceptable, for the past two years. Just 11 percent of students passed all TAKS tests in 2006. About 15 percent of students drop out, and less than half graduate, according to state data.
The Millers say the school serves kids in dire circumstances and shouldn't be held to the same standards as other charters.
"Most of our kids come to us at risk – they're teen parents, on probation, just out of the penal system. And we're expected to have them caught up and passing?" Mrs. Miller asked.
Yes. You're expected, if you take taxpayer money to run a school and are paid a nice salary of $45,000 per year, that you will meet academic standards for your school. And if you can't, maybe you need to, say, go into the plant nursery business.