Public education elites appear nervous that the Texas Legislature may soon enact the nation’s finest parental empowerment program, thereby giving families the ability “to pick the public or private school that best fits their child.” This unease, especially among public school superintendents, is easy to detect in their media commentary.
Here are just a few recent comments to illustrate the point.
- Texas Association of School Administrators Vice President and Whitehouse ISD superintendent Christopher Moran on the prospect of compromise: “We’re not interested in compromising for vouchers to gain school funding. This is a hill that we’re willing to die on.”
- Katy ISD superintendent Ken Gregorski on wanting more state revenue: “The district cannot effectively take care of our teachers and staff when the state is more interested in passing policy that will send public funds to private schools.”
- Dallas ISD superintendent Stephanie Elizalde on declaring a funding emergency: “We are here to declare an emergency…Mayday, mayday, mayday. Texas public schools are in need of immediate rescue.”
Rhetoric of this nature signals a few things. Namely, a commitment to blocking any sort of good government reform and a protection of the status quo at all costs. Assuming that’s correct, then the question becomes why?
There are a handful of possible explanations, but one likely motivation has to do with pay.
As has been often reported, superintendents are among the highest paid public servants in Texas. And, as one recent investigation found, those “salaries for superintendents are higher than ever.”
Given that some superintendents earn more in one year than the President of the United States, it’s not unthinkable that these elite administrators are fighting to preserve their fiefdoms and their six-figure salaries.
But look at the data for yourself and decide for yourself if supersized salaries are a motivating factor in the fight against parental empowerment. It is hard to believe that it plays no role whatsoever.
Figure 1. Top 50 Highest Paid Full-Time Superintendents
Source: Texas Education Agency’s Superintendent Salary Reports for 2022-2023