“This race,” said one observer, “ought to have old Kent running scared.”
Kent “A Laptop on Every Desk” Grusendorf, the District 94 legislator from Arlington, didn’t sound scared when he told Static that the only real issue in the Republican primary race between him and UT-Arlington Prof. Diane Patrick is “a liberal versus conservative” approach to education reform. “I am the conservative,” he intoned.
She, in turn, didn’t sound impressed. Patrick pointed out that, as chairman of the House Public Education Committee for five sessions, Grusendorf failed to get the bills passed to pull the state out of a school financing crisis that’s become the mother of all Texas education issues.
His effort during the last session to mandate laptops for every school kid “would have cost the taxpayers over $3 billion with no independent, long-term research to prove that laptops actually increase academic achievement,” classroom teacher and education writer Donna Garner said. The measure was strongly opposed by educators for its wording that would have cut the use of textbooks from the classroom almost entirely.
Regardless, Grusendorf said he will keep pushing for laptops if he’s re-elected.
Larry Shaw, head of Fort Worth-based United Educators Association, whose political PAC has endorsed Patrick and is actively working on her behalf, said, “No one who works with kids is for Grusendorf,” pointing to his support for private-school vouchers and his opposition to across-the-board teacher pay raises rather than merit pay tied to test scores. “He is the teachers’ worst enemy.”
Grusendorf blames his legislative failures on the “education lobby” whose agenda “is to force the legislature to pass a state income tax.”
Patrick said she’s no liberal, pointing to her election as a Republican to the State Board of Education in 1992 and her 11 years of service on the Arlington school board. And educators top the list of her supporters, including former Dallas schools chief Mike Moses and Richardson superintendent Jim Nelson.
Both those men have ties to a controversial commercial reading program, Voyager Expanded Learning, which gives some Patrick supporters, such as Garner, a touch of indigestion.
Well, politics and sausage … .