Texas does need a more effective regulatory system: Start with TEA

“Nobody;” this is the answer the lawyer representing Texas Education Agency gave the three judge panel at the Third Court of Appeals in Austin on November 18, 2006 when the judges asked “who holds you (TEA) accountable if TEA breaks the law and violates the rights of a charter school TEA employees dislike?” The Legislature, the Governor, nor the Courts have authority over TEA according to TEA. If you don’t believe me-order the court transcript.

Does the public know that in 14 separate administrative and court appearances, one Houston charter school soundly defeated TEA and the Attorney General’s lawyers? This is because TEA consistently denied substantive and procedural due process to charter schools it targeted. Mind you, this was not because the existing law is weak; TEA simply decided not to obey the law nor did it feel accountable to anyone – including the taxpayers.

Houston charter schools are the dumping ground of low performing and problem student for local school districts. Some charter schools were bad and needed to be closed. However, TEA’s systematic funding discrimination and underhanded procedural machinations against other Houston charter schools is well documented and the reason why TEA keeps losing in court and administrative hearings. Senate Bill 4 introduced by Senators Florence Shapiro, R-Plano and Kyle Jane, R-Houston does nothing address TEA’s abuse of power. Yes, Texas does need a more effective regulatory system – start with TEA.

Robert Muhammad is the minister of Muhammad Mosque No.45 in Houston, Texas and the Southwest Representative of the Nation of Islam. He is a doctoral student of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.