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get its money’s worth, he emphasized. He reeled off statistics: $8.3 billion spent in this country each year on education, 70 % for teachers, 12 % for administrators; thirty cents out of every dollar goes to public education, twenty cents to colleges; education expenditures growing at a 25 % rate annually, a half billion dollars annually just to keep up; 31/2 million school children in Texas now, 41/2 million by the year 2000; Texas with largest school debt of any state in the nation. “We haven’t gotten to learning yet,” Perot told the reporters. “I’m just giving you the finance side. Where does all the money go? Too much of it goes to electives, odds-and-ends, special projects. I’m asking that we put those things back into perspective. Now they’re the forces that drive the system; they used to be what you did after school. I’m for balance. It seems to me we’ve lost our balance.” Perot conceded that Texans may not be ready for the reassessment he urges. “The public elects the school board, and the school board reflects the communtiy. What the community seems interested in is how well the boys play, how well the girls prance, and if the coach doesn’t perform, you fire him and make him a principal.” Wendell Hubbard, Sherman’s superintendent for the past 25 years, is a big man with a soothing baritone voice who looks like he might have been a coach himself. He’s beeri in education for 38 years, he told the committee, “and the answers have decreased each year; nevertheless, he offered a list of suggestions: a full-year of school based on something called a 45/15 plan; under the plan, now being implemented in Illinois, students would attend school 180 days a year as they do now, but a new group Would begin every fifteen days year round; eliminate all work co-op programs and make vocational education part of the regular curriculum; “provide sufficient ‘personnel units’ to accomplish the purposes decided upon”; make it possible to organize schools around fewer certified teachers; more adults would be involved in the education process but they wouldn’t necessarily be certified teachers; eliminate minimum-competency testing and institute more rigorous testing; make it more difficult to enter teaching by requiring examination by a certifying board, not by the degreegranting institution. “We’ve been traveling since July,” Perot told Hubbard, “and you are literally the first senior school official to come up with a creative plan for what we ought to do.” “There are a few good schools of education, many poor ones, and a number that ought to be closed.” Ross Perot Late in the day, the committee got around to teacher salaries. The SISD had hired thirty new teachers, Hubbard said, most of them experienced teachers, average age 35. Ten held masters degrees. For nine elementary positions, the district had 110 applicants; for ten math positions, fifteen applicants. Sherman pays the highest teacher salaries in the area, Hubbard said, with beginning teachers making $3800 above the state minimum. “We’re able to attract a better teacher by paying a better salary. Salary does help in recruiting good teachers.” Admittedly playing the devil’s advocate, Perot asked Hubbard, “Where is the entry-level shortage?,We’ve been to the poorest districts; it’s not there. It’s not here. It may be coming, but it’s not here. This shortage everybody comes down [to Austin] and talks about does not exist as school starts in 1983.” “A people shortage does not exist,” Hubbard said. “A teacher shortage exists.” “A liberal arts graduate cannot make any more in corporate America than does a beginning teacher, Perot noted. “A doctor makes almost nothing as an intern, but he makes so much down the road, it’s worth it. A teacher looks at his starting salary and what he makes down the road and decides it’s not worth it.” \(“That’s why I quit teaching and went to the legislature,” Bill Haley said with a Earlier Haley, who chairs the House Committee on Public Education, asked the Sherman teachers which they would choose if they had to a $5,000 annual salary increase or a reduction in the student/teacher ratio. “I’m not trying to say you don’t need a salary increase,” he assured them. “I’m behind that a hundred percent.” The teachers were taken aback by Haley’s question, but Carl Parker wasn’t. “I’d rather have my child in a class of fifty with a $50,000 teacher,” he said, “than to have him one-on-one in a classroom with an idiot.” “This committee will recommend more money for teachers,” Perot said, “but we have to make sure taxpayers get their money’s worth. The reason this legislature’s being so tentative is because there’s a tradition in the state of Texas that whoever votes for a tax increase doesn’t get re-elected. Put yourself in their shoes.” \(A Sherman school board member sitting in the audience whispered to a fellow board member: “School boards have to do that every year. Why Perot briefly sketched the “career ladder” he endorses for teachers. They would begin, under his plan, at a relatively modest salary, they would be subject to frequent and rigorous evaluation, and they would not be finally certified until they had taught for perhaps five years. Turnover would be high, but in his view that would not be cause for concern; indeed it should be encouraged since it would guarantee a young, energetic, relatively inexpensive pool of teachers. Those who were certified would be experienced, talented, and well paid. Under the current system, Perot said, we move the mass of teachers up the career ladder, instead of the relatively few outstanding teachers, and we’re saddled with an expensive system. Several times during the day, he challenged teachers to endorse a rigorous evaluation plan in return for advancement based as much as possible on merit. “At some point,” he told the group, “teachers are gonna have to ask themselves, ‘Do we want to be a profession, or do we want a cozy, sure thing?’ ” If that was the question for the teachers, the question for the schools, in Perot’s view, was this: “Are we interested in learning or are we interested in play?” Superintendent Hubbard spoke of Billy Don Jackson, a Sherman High School football standout a few years back. Jackson was recruited by UCLA, got involved with drugs, and ended up killing a man. At the time of his conviction, it came to light that Billy Don Jackson had never learned to read. “At no time did we ever say he was eligible for college,” Hubbard said. “UCLA wasn’t interested in whether he was eligible for college. Two of our special education students were recruited by Texas Tech. At no time did we tell THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9