MCISD receives political letters


Employees of Madisonville CISD received a letter, the contents of which have been provided, from a conservative political group last week encouraging them to whistleblow on any misuse of funds by the school board to back liberal candidates.

The letter was also sent to multiple other districts throughout the state of Texas.

"It's a far-right faction of the Republican Party that creates issues that don't exist and try to get people to react to them," said Madisonville CISD Superintendent Keith Smith.

Empower Texans, which is partly funded by Midland oilman Tim Dunn, has also called for measures to limit increases to property tax revenue that local schools and other government entities collect.

The group and its supporters have recently voiced their opposition to Texas Educators Vote, an organization that was founded in 2015 in an effort to get teachers in the state to vote. Empower Texans and their supporter claim the organization, which was founded in 2015, may be using illegal taxes to promote liberal policies.

Texas Educators Vote countered that they are simply promoting the act of voting itself for those who encourage their students to do the same. However, opponents have cited the organization's "culture of voting" resolution, which pledges to provide transportation to and from poling places in districts that allow it.

"I don't know of a Superintendent that would use district funds to bus students and teachers to vote," said Smith. "But the letter incorrectly states that the Attorney General made a ruling that it would be a misuse of public funds to do so. That was actually just his opinion, but I can't think of anyone who would do it anyway."

Smith stated that the panic of Empower Texans and their supporters is an effort to keep a stronghold on property taxes.

"Most people think that all of your property taxes go to public schools but it technically doesn't," said Smith.

Smith explained that their funding consists of a state contribution as well as local taxes, but when taxes are raised, the state takes away a portion of their contribution to make up for the difference. They then place the blame on local school districts for raising taxes and have contributed significantly less from the state level over recent years.

"We can't even technically raise taxes without a vote," said Smith. "I find it funny that members of the same party that say they want less government are taking the power away from local governments and school boards to keep for themselves. That's definitely not Republican."

Smith is not alone, his concern is shared by many in the state's academic community who believe this is a desperate move to stop the changing tide that will hold such groups accountable. Smith believes that the state's horrid voter turnout rate has allowed organizations like Empower Texans to become influential.

"When no one participates, it can really allow a small group of people to dictate how some of these things turn out," said Smith. "(Empower Texans) is funded by a few wealthy people who want to essentially buy elections."