In over 30 years of involvement with public education reform, I can’t remember a time that offers more opportunity for transformational change than this moment. The combination of overall underperformance of public education, the recalcitrance of the teachers’ unions to allow teachers to return to work during the pandemic, the direct impact of COVID itself on family structure and work and living habits, and the parents renewed and intensive involvement in their children’s education and how it is being corrupted have all converged into a perfect storm for systemic change. This phenomenon is being played out in different places and different ways across the nation, and Texas is no exception.
To take advantage of this opportunity, I am pleased to have joined a group of friends and colleagues as board members of Liberty for the Kids, a project founded and led by Kent Grusendorf, former Chairman of the Public Education Committee of the Texas Legislature and long time advocate for school choice. We hope to build grassroots and opinion leadership support for a movement that will culminate with significant legislation expanding parental school choice in all of its manifestations, both public and private, during the 2023 Texas legislative session.
In case you missed it, here is the recent press release announcing our rollout:
LIBERTY FOR THE KIDS: ONLY PARENT EMPOWERMENT AND SCHOOL CHOICE WILL IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION
Austin, TX (March 29, 2022) Six Texans, among the highest profile and stalwart education advocates in the state, today announced the roll-out of Liberty For The Kids (LFTK), a single-issue, Texas nonprofit striving to “empower all parents regardless of race, wealth, or zip code, with the right to determine where and how their child can learn best.”
“Every child should have the freedom to learn where they learn best;” said Dr. Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former Houston ISD superintendent. “Educational funds, held in trust by the state, should follow the child to the delivery system, public or private, best suited to meet the needs of each individual child. The Texas Legislature should make this possible.” He is honorary board chair of LFTK and chair of its advisory committee.
Having worked in the trenches at the local, state, and federal levels, Dr. Paige knows “the best way to improve and save the public education system is to require schools to compete for their clients, which means giving parents the right to choose.”
The term “School Choice” is being reinvented and recharged as parents become more chagrined with their public schools and the hurdles blocking their children’s educational attainment. “LFTK is a single-issue, Texas-based C4 nonprofit dedicated to assuring that every Texas child can learn where they learn best;” said Allan Parker, a LFTK Board member, former ISD attorney, and former school-law professor. “Child centered funding is the wave of the future, where the money follows the child to the school of the parent’s choice for all students.”
“For almost half a century we have attempted to improve and reform education with top-down mandates,” said Dr. Don McAdams, LFTK vice president, former HISD board president, and author of three school governance books. “Although well-meaning, many of these directives have become a burden to teachers. And when they have worked, over time they have been undone due to political pressure from special interests.”
Kent Grusendorf, LFTK board president, former member of the State Board of Education and former chairman of the Texas House Education Committee, pushes back against the argument that public money should only go to publicly operated schools. “Your tax dollars do not belong to the schools; instead, it is your money held in trust for the education of your kids. This is why school board members are called ‘trustees’.”
“The Texas Supreme Court has made it perfectly clear, in its Edgewood IV ruling, that tax dollars held in trust for Texas students can be used for their education in any manner as determined by the legislature – public or private,” said attorney John Shields, LFTK Secretary/Treasurer, former member of the State Board of Education, and former state representative.
As Abraham Lincoln reported said: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
According to Jim Windham, founding chairman of the Texas Institute for Education Reform and LFTK Board member; “Never before have I seen better prospects for meaningful change. The 2023 legislative session provides a unique opportunity for complying with the law and improving the state’s education system.”
LFTK Board Members
Dr. Rod Paige is Honorary Chairman of LFTK’s Board of Directors and Chairman of its Advisory Council. He served as Education Secretary under President George W. Bush, and is a former superintendent of Houston ISD, the largest school district in Texas.
Kent Grusendorf serves as LFTK President. He is a former member of the Texas State Board of Education; a former chairman of the Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee, and a former chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council Education Task Force.
Dr. Don McAdams serves as LFTK Vice President. He is a former Houston ISD school board president; founder and chairman of the Center for Reform of School Systems; a former college president, and author of three books on public school governance.
John H. Shields serves as LFTK Secretary-Treasurer. He is a former member of the Texas State Board of Education; a former member Texas House of Representatives; a former public school teacher, and a former college business law instructor currently practicing law in San Antonio.
Allan E. Parker, Jr. serves as a LFTK Board member. He is a former attorney for public school districts; a former education law professor, and current president of The Justice Foundation (a non-profit advocating for limited government, private property, and parental rights.)
Jim Windham serves as a LFTK Board member. He is a past chairman, Texas Association of Business; founder and past chairman, The Texas Lyceum; founding Director, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and founder, Texas Institute for Education Reform. He is a retired banker.
For more information, including data and performance results and to provide support, go to: LibertyForTheKids.org.
Let me have your questions. Needless to say, we’re going to need all the help we can get, so please consider a donation. We will spend it wisely.