Kent Grusendorf

Author of Saving Public Education and Who Rules the Texas House

Kent Grusendorf was elected to the Texas State Board of Education in 1982. Four years later he was elected to the Texas Legislature where he served for 20 years. In both political races he defeated an incumbent by running primarily on the issue of education reform. Once elected to the Texas House of Representatives, Speaker Gib Lewis appointed him to the House Public Education Committee, to the Legislative Education Board, and with consent of Governor Bill Clements, to the Governor’s Select Committee tasked to deal with the state’s very first court finding that the school finance system was unconstitutional –Edgewood I. He has been involved in each round of school finance litigation thereafter.

Grusendorf served on numerous other select committees over the years and served as chairman of the 29 member House Select Committee on School Finance, which was tasked to deal with the West Orange school finance decision in 2003. He also served on the Southern Regional Education Board’s Executive Committee, and served as chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Conference (ALEC) Education Task Force. During his last two sessions in the legislature, 2003 and 2005, he chaired the House Public Education Committee.

Over the years, Grusendorf has authored research articles, and hundreds of editorials, regarding education and other political issues. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Austin American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Texas Tribune, Quorum Report, and many other publications.

Just A Few of the Author’s Previous Publications:

Focus on quality of education instead of structure

  • — Focus on quality of education instead of structure We often hear or read concerns that charter schools detract or draw resources from our local school districts. However, is that the question that should be raised? Shouldn’t we be asking how to best meet the needs of every single Texas student? Nothing is more important to the future of our society than the education of our youth. Politics often causes us to lose sight of the bigger picture and instead focus on them versus us.

Kent Grusendorf: Parental rights – and choice – are paramount regarding schools

  • — Why should Texas continue to deny parents the right and freedom to select the very best schools for their children? Nothing is more important. Why should the status quo continue to be protected at the expense of Texas children? Facts are troublesome things. The simple fact is: School choice would be good for everyone in society other than a few lawyers and bureaucrats who thrive on the gross inefficiencies of the current system. Let’s review some other facts.

Efficient is not the same as cheap, even for our schools

  • — Texas has thousands of highly dedicated school administrators. Over my 30 years of work on education issues, most school leaders I have met are totally devoted to what is best for Texas children. Most, however, do not really understand how conservatives think. A great example can be found with the recent school finance lawsuit.

Fear vs. principle in the Texas Legislature

  • — This year’s legislative session was different: The good, the bad, and the yet to be determined. From a liberal perspective, less bad than might be expected from a Republican-dominated state; and some new progressive spending. From a conservative perspective, less good than many hoped for, but progress on some fronts. From an independent perspective, yet to be determined: How will new spending levels will be sustained, and paid for, in future sessions?

Grusendorf: 9 Billion!

  • — February 12, 2019 Former Texas House Public Education Committee Chairman Grusendorf asks the following about new money for schools: “How will those dollars be distributed? What will Texas students gain in return?” A huge bag of new money is being put on the table for public education. That is the signal currently coming from state leadership.

Real reform can close the education achievement gap

  • — The recently announced National Assessment of Education Progress (NAPE)  indicates a stagnation of academic results in Texas and the nation. Unfortunately, Texas actually lost ground as compared to 2015 results. Critically, the achievement gap for minority students continues to haunt the state at totally unacceptable levels. These poor findings caused Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, to direct the respective education commissioners in Texas to explore effective solutions.

Who Should Decide What Is Best for Your Child

  • TPPF — November 10, 2016 While Texas is a leader on many fronts, it is sadly behind on education reform. The Texas Supreme Court called upon lawmakers to “upend an ossified regime ill-suited for 21st century Texas” and the legislature holds the key to unlocking parents’ ability to improve the educational welfare of millions of Texas children.

How Texans Can Take the Lead on School Choice

  • The Wall Street Journal — March 28, 2015 When the founding fathers of Texas gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos nearly two centuries ago and set forth their reasons for separation from Mexico, chief among them was the failure of the Mexican government to provide any education system.

Even More Previous Publications:

 Grusendorf: Sunlight Ahead for the Great State of Texas

  • — January 7, 2019 Texans are getting encouraging signals from incoming Speaker to be Dennis Bonnen that he is open to returning the office of speaker to a more traditional role –that of a presiding officer, not a commanding officer. This is a very encouraging signal for democracy coming from the new incoming speaker.

Grusendorf: Fed up

  • — January 3, 2019 Former GOP Texas House chairman Kent Grusendorf argues that “if the federal government, through monetary policy, drugs the economy for an extended period of time, it must use an ultimate degree of caution when it manipulates the withdrawal.” Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell is correct; interest rates have been far too low for far too long. However, current Fed actions are creating extreme havoc upon the US economy. That is not unusual, as most…

Grusendorf: What happened on election day

  • — November 13, 2018 What happened on election day Republican former House Chairman Kent Grusendorf argues losses for Republicans were not about issues; instead he says it was more about the mechanics of elections Republicans got their butts kicked. Democrats deserve credit – they successfully embraced and implemented a winning strategy for Texas.

Grusendorf: What Texas Blue Wave

  • — Former Rep. Kent Grusendorf, a Republican, doubts there will be a blue wave but says if there is one, the degree to which a partisan shift occurs in the Texas House will have great ramifications for the speaker’s race. A few weeks ago Republican Pete Flores won a race in a presumed safe Democratic Texas Senate district against Pete Gallego, a well-known and respected politician.

Grusendorf: Are We Funding Our Own Demise

  • — Former Rep. Kent Grusendorf seeks to set these youngsters straight about the realities of socialism. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a soon to be a member of the US House of Representatives, has received a lot of public attention recently regarding her aggressive support of socialism. Cortez is not unique. Despite the totality of world history and empirical evidence to the contrary, millennials have a more favorable opinion of socialism than of capitalism.

Grusendorf: Education Reform

  • — Well ahead of the next legislative session, former Texas House Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf lays out some history of what previous governors have sought to do about the issue and whether they really accomplished anything. If you talk to moms around Texas, you’ll quickly learn that a major issue for them is education. Education reform has been a top priority for Texas parents, business leaders, and politicians for decades. So, what have our state leaders said and done in recent decades?

Grusendorf: Death of a Nation, The Movie

  • — Former Texas House Chairman Kent Grusendorf offers a review of the controversial new film by Dinesh D’Souza, which is playing at conservative events around the state and nation. The Travis County Republican Party recently sponsored an advance screening of Dinesh D’Souza’s new film “Death of a Nation. ”D’Souza is an Indian immigrant who came to the US as an exchange student and is now a naturalized American citizen.

Grusendorf: The Next Texas Speaker

  • — Former Texas House Public Ed Chairman Kent Grusendorf lays out a case that Republicans, in caucus, could select a speaker who can garner bipartisan support on the floor. Selection of the next Texas Speaker will be unlike any in the past 170 years. The selection will differ in several respects. First, it will be the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans will actually have freely selected a leader from among their membership.

Grusendorf The Establishment vs. The Folks

  • — Former Texas House Chairman Kent Grusendorf argues that despite the fact that incumbent Texas House Republicans held their own in the primaries and runoffs, external forces pushing for change in state government have the wind at their backs The revolt against establishment forces is alive and well in the world today. In Europe, Brexit was the first major crack in the dam; then other events such as those in Austria and Italy have reinforced the movement.

Grusendorf: We need more money, the dilemma of school finance

  • — Former House Public Ed Chair Grusendorf says there are no easy answers to funding the current school system and that it has “been structured to meet the needs of adults at the expense of students. That is not surprising since adults vote, and students do not. ”Listening to recent testimony before the new Commission on Public School Finance you were assured of hearing one common theme –“ We Need More Money.”  Virtually every education interest group testified to the fact.

Grusendorf: Circle the Wagons Or Not

  • — Former Chairman Kent Grusendorf argues governor Abbott’s involvement in several House primaries is likely a stroke of genius. Although it has been widely reported that the Texas House Republican Caucus has circled the wagons in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s intervention into several legislative races, that is actually not the case.

Grusendorf: Winning

  • — Former Chairman Kent Grusendorf argues the upcoming speaker’s race may give Republicans an opportunity to stop trying to find ways to surrender at the Texas Capitol. Dan Patrick and Donald Trump have something in common. They both play to win. A friend recently told a story of two lobbyists working together in Austin. One had previously served in the legislature as a Democrat; a recently retired Republican legislator joined him to lobby on an issue.

Grusendorf: Supermajority Senate Rules Undermine Democracy — From the Right: With another potential government shutdown looming, former GOP Rep. Kent Grusendorf argues that supermajority rules “allow politicians to hide from voters and act in their own interests instead of dealing with the critical business of government. ”Do senate rules that require a supermajority vote really promote bipartisanship? Are they really traditional?

    Grusendorf: School finance, the next chapter

    • — After the Texas Supreme Court said the state’s funding of schools is legal but lousy, former Public Ed Chair Grusendorf policymakers should provide a 21st century education finance system. Tomorrow the new Texas Commission on Public School Finance will meet for the first time.

    Grusendorf: Balance of Power

    • — A Deliberative or Autocratic Texas House? It’s all about the rules. The holidays are behind us. The filing deadline for candidates has passed. The playing field for Texas politics in 2018 has been defined. The political decisions made this year will determine the nature of the 86th Texas Legislature. For the next twelve months, many in Austin will be focused on one big question:  Who will be the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives?

    Grusendorf: Tis the Season

    • — Republican former Texas House Chairman Kent Grusendorf says “some of the finest people I have known in politics have been liberals” and goes on to argue demonization and criminalization of political adversaries should be avoided. Politics has become very polarized in America and to a lesser degree, in Texas. We all need to remember that our political rivals are not our enemies.

    Grusendorf: The Big Question

    • — Former Republican House Chair Kent Grusendorf argues that unless the 2018 election results that are radically different from current expectations, the next speaker will be selected by the Republican Caucus. As we approach the filing deadline for the 2018 election cycle, many things seem to be known. The Texas Senate next session will look a lot like it looks now. Lt. Gov.

    Grusendorf: Power is Transitory

    • — Former Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf brings his institutional knowledge to the question of the first real speaker’s race many observers have ever seen. As we approach the end of 2017 and look toward changes in the political landscape, an examination of political power is appropriate. Texas will undergo a significant shift in political power –especially in the Texas House. Such change (new leader, new rules) could impact the Texas political power structure for decades.

    Brief History of Robin Hood in Texas

    • TPPF October 3, 2016 — Although most Texans think in terms of local and state funding for schools separately, such is only true for facilities funding. Local school district taxes collected for M&O purposes actually perform like a state property tax.

    Who Takes Advantage of Educational Choice?

    • TPPF November 17, 2016 — The appeal of parental choice is strongest among minority parents with lower incomes who are dissatisfied with the academic quality of their child’s current school.

    What Texas can Learn from Las Vegas

    • TPPF December 15, 2015 — In just a matter of weeks the Texas Public Policy Foundation will host its nationally known Policy Orientation an annual conference held in downtown Austin. Two Nevada state leaders, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson (R) and Sen. Scott Hammond (R), are among the many national thought leaders set to speak this year. They will both tell Texans about the most innovative educational-choice program in the entire nation.

    Transparency in Education Funding Sorely Missing

    • TPPF April 1, 2015 — Late last year, MIT Professor and White House consultant Johnathan Gruber made news when discussing the passage of national healthcare reform by saying: “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage, and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically, that was really critical to get the thing to pass . . . .” Complexity and lack of transparency worked to the political advantage of the few who understood the complex structure of healthcare in the United States. When complexity obscures a system and the effect of reform, lawmakers lack the information they need to make informed decisions.

    Are Government Monopolies Inherently Inefficient?

    • TPPF March 11, 2015 — If Texans actually believe government-operated systems are inherently inefficient, then it follows that the Legislature should not continue to insist on protecting the monopoly at eht expense of children, teachers, and the economy.

    School Choice is Crucial for the Texas Economy

    • Austin American Statesman January 20, 2015 — The goal of Texas is, and always has been, to be number one. Texans want and deserve a strong economy now and in the future. Texans want and deserve the best educational opportunities for every single child.

    Stop the Middle Class Decline

    • TPPF — Public schools are not preparing Americans to succeed in today’s global economy. As a result, students lack the knowledge they need to secure middle-class employment.

    Judge Dietz Erred – Money Alone is No Solution

    • The Quorum Report September 10, 2014 — Having sat through both of the recent school finance trials I gained great respect for the intellect of Judge Dietz. However, he gravely missed the mark in his recent school finance ruling. The likelihood of his decision standing on appeal is slim. Just as the Texas Supreme Court ignored most of his finding of fact in the last round of school finance litigation, they will likely do so again.

    The Moral Case for School Choice

    • TPPF September 9, 2014 — Morality requires the protection of our rights and liberties. Morality also requires the promotion of a greater equality.

    Original Intent of the Texas Constitution

    • TPPF July 2, 2014 — It isn’t commonly known that public free schools were not originally state-run schools, but community schools that allowed any group of parents to form a school, hire a teacher, and seek reimbursement from the state.