During the 2011 legislative session conservative higher education advocates worked to make transparency and cost reductions a reality at publicly funded universities in Texas. They were met with vitriolic rebuttals from entrenched administrators, and their liberal partners in the legislature and media.
This week the media has highlighted the role that Speaker Joe Straus played in quashing substantive reform. It is an example of liberals glorying in their shame.
On Tuesday Aman Bathja with the Fort Worth Star Telegram relayed that Joe Straus viewed the efforts as an “assault on higher education.” In truth, the reforms were an assault on the system’s many parasites. Other lawmakers like Democrat Judith Zaffirini are on record claiming the system is running smoothly. Straus used his position as speaker to empower them.
Straus’ role in destroying reform efforts and empowering liberal lawmakers was to create a joint committee. The idea came straight from Straus’ office, according to Reeve Hamilton, a writer for the Texas Tribune. Hamilton, we discovered early in the process was in on the game to fight reforms.
While Bathja gets props for getting Straus on record opposing conservative efforts and Hamilton gets props for his finger pointing, Jason Embry of the Austin American Statesman gets highest marks for adding value.
In his First Reading this week Embry called attention to a powerful Straus advisor whose name is becoming more toxic in conservative circles, Karen Hughes. Recently Hughes has come under fire for securing government funding in Texas for a Muslim charter school network owned by a man who was chased out of his native Turkey for being too fundamentalist for the regime in power at the time.
Hughes also worked with big education advocates, setting up an advocacy group to counter reform- minded conservatives.
While reformers would have liked this first step to have been bigger, silver linings continue to emerge. This is one more clear example of Speaker Straus siding with entrenched interests in order to block the kind of meaningful reform Texas, our nation, and our friends across the pond are desperately in need of.