Within the last few weeks, something big has happened: two public independent school districts in Texas have begun the journey to separate from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and become official partners with the state’s first true alternative service provider, Texans for Excellence in Education (TEE).
And not just any two districts, but Carroll ISD and Princeton ISD, two extremely well-regarded, highly successful, and respected public schools that are world-class in so many aspects.
So, what does it mean that these two esteemed districts have begun to move away from TASB and towards the upstart alternative? Frankly, it’s a game-changer.
For many decades, TASB has been the only option for Texas public schools for many critical services, such as model district policy drafting, legal guidance, trustee training, insurance, and so much more.
This unchecked monopoly produced what unchecked monopolies always produce throughout history: bad outcomes, lower returns for taxpayer dollars, and a silencing of dissent and alternative points of view.
While Texas is a culturally conservative state, currently dominated by the political party most aligned with those values, TASB has long used its perch as the most trusted voice in the room for local school boards to push its own values in an attempt to reshape Texas—one child at a time.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than TASB’s “legal guidance” pushing Texas schools to adopt far-left policies on transgender students, advocating for biological men in girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, as well as advocating for biological men to play in our girls’ sports.
Parroting the Biden Administration’s talking points and under the not-so-sublte threat of potential federal investigations for following the will of their own voters, TASB openly pushed Texas school trustees to sacrifice the safety and innocence of our young girls.
TASB also engages in a systematic diminishing of the power of the public-elected school board trustees, pushing its so-called “Team of 8 social contract” where they recommend elevating the superintendent to the trustees’ peer.
This distortion of the chain of command further undermines the will of the voters. The trustees, as a board, should set the course for the district and the superintendent—hired by and answerable to the trustees—is tasked with implementing that vision.
TASB’s “Team of 8” upends this structure and reduces the voice of each trustee who now must negoitate and compromise with their own employee. And it is not without intention. TASB knows that trustees come and go, but administrators endure. Allying themselves with administrators ensures that they have an advocate regardless of who wins or loses the most recent elections.
TEE was created to provide the same essential services to our public schools as TASB without the cultural and worldview indoctrination that is so pervasive in TASB. It’s hard to believe that an organization doesn’t want to set the agenda, but wants to empower those elected to implement their own, but that is exactly TEE’s mission
We operated under the assumption that TASB was only as successful as it has been because there was no competitor. That was our concept. And we set about becoming a viable alternative that empowered trustees to set the agenda for their district, elevate the voices of parents, and ensure that no child is left behind academically.
With the partnerships with Carroll and Princeton ISDs, we have moved from concept to competitor. TEE is here to stay and we feel confident that the success begets success. This is only the beginning.
The days of being an unchecked monopoly are officially over for TASB.
John Petree is the president of Texans for Excellence in Education.