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Letter from the Comptroller

January 25, 2001
The Honorable Rick Perry
The Honorable William R. Ratliff
The Honorable James E. “Pete” Laney
Members of the 77th Legislature
Commissioner James E. Nelson

Fellow Texans:

After more than a year of study, my Public Education Integrity Task Force, which I created to examine our state’s nationally recognized public school accountability system, has presented me with the enclosed report. The talented, experienced, and dedicated citizens serving on the Task Force have done an exemplary job. The Task Force’s goal was to identify ways to tighten internal and external controls in the current system to ensure the accuracy of data submitted to the Texas Education Agency and to ensure the integrity of accountability ratings. Moreover, the Task Force wanted to find incentives to encourage administrators, teachers and staff to adhere to the highest ethical standards in record keeping and reporting.

I am a staunch believer in local control; I am a staunch believer in public education; I am a staunch believer in public accountability; and, I am a staunch believer in parents having adequate and accurate information so that they can make the best decisions for their children’s future!

The value of an effective system is that it fairly and equitably weeds out those individuals who try to circumvent the system from the vast majority of honest people who have dedicated their lives to educating our children. The system should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. And there should be no defense for grievous errors. The Task Force recommends enhancing and preserving local control by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the process, improving training and support, adopting rules to improve the system and addressing the issues causing the problems so that the opportunity for error is minimized.

This report seeks to minimize the changes in the law to preserve the results of the Senate Bill 1 reform originally enacted by the Legislature in 1995. As a result, only a few changes in statutory law are recommended. The majority of recommendations focus on administrative rule changes or clarifying or emphasizing existing law­recommendations that can be accomplished within existing statutory authority. I look forward to working with you to ensure that these important recommendations are implemented.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts