Testing Champion

Suddenly it’s fashionable to be against the ridiculously expensive state-imposed public school testing regimen. Let’s not forget that just a year ago the House education committee wouldn’t even take a vote on a cash-saving proposal by taxpayer champion and State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) to put the test on hiatus for two years.

Mr. Flynn introduced House Bill 2491 that would have placed a moratorium on the “assessments of certain public school students under the public school accountability system.” (TFR strongly supported Flynn’s HB 2491.)

Rob Eissler

After being heard in the House Public Education Committee, Chairman Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) blocked the bill from receiving a vote, thereby killing the legislation. (Committee chairs in the Texas House are appointed by the Speaker, which was Joe Straus last session.)

Mr. Flynn noted the moratorium was needed to help protect schools from the unreasonably high costs imposed by the new statewide tests. Many argued Mr. Flynn’s legislation would have saved $400 million… if only Mr. Eissler would have allowed it move forward.

So it is a bit ironic that the same Rob Eissler — who wouldn’t allow a committee vote on the moratorium, HB 2491 — is now saying the state’s education commissioner should do what he as the committee chairman would not. (Mr. Eissler has a challenger in the 2012 Republican Primary.)

This week the Texas Tribune reported Mr. Eissler has “added his voice to the growing chorus asking the Texas Education Agency to defer implementation” of the new statewide test. This means Mr. Eissler is now campaigning in favor of an outcome that he killed legislatively in the 82nd Legislature.

Such clear hypocrisy is probably welcome news for Mr. Eissler’s current primary challenger.

Of course, there is a significant difference between what Mr. Flynn proposed and what Mr. Eissler now advocates.

Mr. Flynn was concerned about the cost of the test, and wanted schools to have that money available for classroom instruction. He wanted to put resources in the classroom.

Mr. Eissler is only took notice when self-interested school district administrators started fretting about implementing the test. He was okay with spending the money on the test, he’s just trying to stop the scores from counting.

Frankly, Mr. Eissler’s new position is somewhat insulting. During session he wouldn’t allow a vote to stop the test and save money. Now, with an election coming, he wants taxpayers to still foot the bill for the tests, but not at least get the benefit of any data the test would allegedly collect.

Ultimately, Dan Flynn was concerned with substance, while Rob Eissler is concerned with perception and politics. Mr. Flynn tried to halt the tests and let more money flow to the classroom, while Mr. Eissler is only taking action when bureaucrats began worrying about their image.

Mr. Eissler is protecting the bureaucracy, when Mr. Flynn’s proposal would have protected students, teachers and taxpayers.