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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

A call from the superintendent or blowing smoke up my skirt... A couple of months ago I was concerned when FBISD Superintendent Dr. Tim Jenney sent out a letter that discussed, among other things, evaluating alternate methods of service delivery as a way to reduce costs for the cash-strapped district.

This immediately conjured up “outsourcing,” in my mind--the political answer to every budget crisis. When politicians want to cut budgets, they like to take the services that the city, county, school district, water district, whatever have been doing for themselves for years. They preach “outsourcing” those jobs, claiming that a private company can cut costs.

Not that a private company can actually do exactly the same thing  cheaper, but a private company can be owned  by  either a politician’s brother-in-law or major contributor, giving the decision maker preaching “outsourcing”  much more access to tax funds. 

And often the private company can do almost the same job cheaper because the private company hires un-documented workers who are paid less, get fewer benefits, and receive no health insurance. (Notice those preaching outsourcing also are the first to gritch about undocumented workers using the emergency room for their health care.) I’ve gotten to where I have extreme dislike for stingy people--you know, those “I’ve got mine, to hell with you” types. 

When I called Supe Jenney at the time he assured me that outsourcing was not the option. 

Then Superintendent Jenney called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that he had changed his mind about outsourcing and that sure enough, FBISD would be outsourcing some jobs although he hadn’t presented it to the board yet. I was overcome with self-congratulations that I had bluffed the supe into revealing his future plans to me as he told me that some 26 “mowing jobs” might be outsourced.

I was so eaten up with hubris that I forgot to ask about other jobs that might be cut. And he certainly didn’t mention that about 170 professional staff, including teachers, would be getting letters telling them  they had to go. 

Whine, whine.... When I called the head of  the district’s communications, Mary Ann Simpson, to complain that Dr. Jenney didn’t mention one word about other jobs being cut, she pointed out the fact that a TASB salary study posted on the district’s web site for several months had recommended the reduction of up to 450 jobs. 

In other words, had I looked I would have known for some time that many positions were headed for the chopping block. 

If all the recommendations in the TASB study were followed, the district would save over $23 million per year. 

The mailman cometh..... I received many letters this week from parents who bitterly complained that the district was increasing class size and cutting programs. I can understand their frustrations, but I would like to remind you that I have griped for years about the huge, expensively built schools we have constructed for years--temples to education. This newspaper has reminded you periodically that the school district seemed to exist for the sake of the real estate market, not the education of children. And for many years, the real estate developers have not given one red cent to the furtherance of education in Fort Bend ISD. No campus land has been donated, although a neighborhood school would enhance the development of any subdivision immeasurably. 

Fort Bend ISD parents seem to be like most Texans. They are more concerned with praying in school or taking out Thomas Jefferson and putting in Phyllis Schlafly than in making sure their kids have a teacher in their classroom and making sure their classrooms don’t have 40 students. 

The few parents who vote on school board members seem to be more concerned about the candidates’ religious and political affiliations than their educational  outlook. 

What you can do and when.... By the way, school board elections are right away so now might be a good time to familiarize yourself with the candidates. 

I’ve seen equipment put in new schools that I thought, “They must be out of their minds!” The biggest advance in the 21st century, the advance that will change our lives forever and altogether is the computer, yet Fort Bend ISD is woefully lacking in teaching and developing those skills and buying equipment for each classroom. My grandson in kindergarten can work the computer better than most 6th graders in Fort Bend ISD, simply because it is not available to them. 

I’ll say this for FBISD, if you want to know what is going on there and what is happening, you have only to go to their web site. They are very forthcoming about what they are doing.

Of course, you are not going to find any criticism of the district there; that is not its purpose. But all the studies and graphs and charts showing money and educational achievement are on the site. Simply google Fort Bend ISD and go from there. 

Political recommendations..... I got a letter this week from a self-styled political guru in Houston, Dr. Steven Hotze,  that recommended John Healey for our District Attorney because, first on his list,  Nina Schafer had never done anything for the Republicans.

I’ve heard that Dr. Hotze, the self-styled arbitrator of all things political, is a Christian man. That is why it is so surprising to me that he would just flat out lie about Nina.

But first I would like to say a few words about Dr. Hotze. First, he doesn’t even live in Fort Bend. What business of his who we elect for District Attorney?

Second, he is a charlatan because I’ve heard on many occasions that he requires you to PAY him for his endorsement. 

And third, the idea that Nina Schaefer has done nothing for the Republican party is simply a lie. Nina’s husband, Bob Maine, served as a precinct chair for many years with Nina right at his side. Nina has supported many Republican candidates and has given the county party money so many times. She and Bob have been to hundreds of Republican functions and can always be counted on. 

Hotze even had the nerve to criticize Nina Schaefer because she is a sole practitioner. He didn’t say one word about the fact that John Healey has never earned a paycheck that some government entity didn’t provide.  I say it is time to let John go out and get a real job, and put Nina Schaefer in to straighten out that District Attorney’s office.

Early voting is now through Friday. Run-off election day is  next Tuesday, April 13.

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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