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LiveBlog: TribLive with Rob Eissler

House Public Education Committee Chairman Rob Eissler talked with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith this morning. Here is our liveblog.

State Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, speaks with Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at TribLive on Feb. 3, 2011.

House Public Education Committee Chairman Rob Eissler talked with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith this morning. Here is our liveblog. 

Liveblog

by Morgan Smith
Evan is doing his introduction.
by Morgan Smith
First question: any reason to believe you won't be chairing Public Education this time around? Eissler: Well I put it on my preference card.
by Morgan Smith
It's a very important time in public education, Eissler says, but he doesn't think it's going to be as bad as everyone thinks.
by Morgan Smith
Assuming $10 billion is the number — that would be $1,000 per student. Do you believe there's that much to be cut? Eissler: At this point, that's what you're looking at, but it might not end up that way.
by Morgan Smith
Eissler says he's open to the idea of new revenue. What about the Rainy Day Fund? He's open to it, but "it'll probably be more handy in the current budget."
by Morgan Smith
What about that structural deficit? "I'm willing to look at anything," — including tweaking the business tax.
by Morgan Smith
Eissler says enrollment growth will be included in final budget: "What are we going to do, close the doors?"
by Morgan Smith
Now we're on to unfunded mandates. Eissler says he's in favor of raising the class size limit, which he doesn't believe will lower educational quality: "If you do the math, if we added one child per class we'd save $1.088 million."
by Morgan Smith
What about flexibility to furlough or reduce teacher pay? Eissler says that could help save jobs.
by Morgan Smith
Any other mandates? The 45 day notification rule in laying off teachers.
by Morgan Smith
Eissler says Rep. Riddle's bill that would require schools to check citizenship of students would be "another mandate." "We're required by law to educate whoever shows up," he says.
by Morgan Smith
Eissler's views for the future of the budget: "We need to move to a revenue based cost system, rather than a cost based revenue system. Instead of just adding on, we need to start replacing things that don't work with things that do work."
by Morgan Smith
"We aren't going to delay the implementation of the new testing system," Eissler says.
by Morgan Smith
And here's a pun. First of the morning? "It's pruning the garden, and even when you prune the garden, you have thorny issues."
by Morgan Smith
What about that Doggett money — that $820 million in federal funding for education? Eissler says he's for taking it, and that he believes it's still coming to state.
by Morgan Smith
The floor's open for questions now. Carl Parker, former Sen. Education Chair, asks about class sizes. Have you thought about lowering class sizes at the youngest levels, and raising them at the high school level?
by Morgan Smith
I'd like to look at that, Eissler says, let's see what we can do and save. "This is an opportunity to change things for the better."
by Morgan Smith
Fun fact: one in 10 American school children is a Texan.
by Morgan Smith
A question about bullying-related suicides. A dozen bullying bills have been pre-filed in the Lege, do they have a chance? Eissler says yes.
by Morgan Smith
Talking about teacher effectiveness now. Question from the audience: We want effective teachers, but training them is very expensive. Can we afford that?

Eissler responds: "Can we afford not to?"
by Morgan Smith
Evan asks, if we recognize that we do need to invest in certain programs, why are we not willing to have the conversation we need to about revenue?

"Everyone knows education is the most important thing we can do," Eissler says. But because of that we've "just said, let's add this, let's add that," without looking at what works. For instance: "how many dropout prevention programs do we have, and which one is most effective?"

"We're in a period in our finances, and near future finances where we can't afford to keep supplementing. We need to start making decisions on what is good."
by Morgan Smith
Brad Shields asks about the possibility of relaxing the regulatory burden on high performing districts. Eissler says yes, he's in favor of carrots.

"It's always good to have carrots because it is crunch time." And with that final pun, this TribLive is over.
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