Butch rising

The long goodbye from Beaumont Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Carrol “Butch” Thomas is still an ongoing drama at the district’s Harrison Avenue headquarters. Apparently he isn’t willing to just retire and spend his days counting the loot he stashed during his 16 years as one of the highest paid school superintendents in the state. Word out of Austin is that Thomas has applied to Gov. Rick Perry for appointment as commissioner of public education for the state of Texas. If he gets the job – which is far from certain – he surely would make no less than Robert P. Scott, who left the job on July 2 making $186,300 a year. Although that is only a little more than half the $360,000 Thomas made at BISD, it is still a pretty good income for a retired guy.

Thomas was recommended for the job by Roscoe C. Smith, member of an ad-hoc Dallas group of educators, politicos and preachers known as the Coalition for an Accountable System of Education (CASE), which was formed last year in an unsuccessful attempt to get a former Dallas school district superintendent reappointed to his old job. Smith wrote Perry recommending Thomas, who at the governor’s request submitted a thick, hard-bound book about himself labeled a “profile” that describes the “educational leader and strategist” we have all come to know.

This book runs into trouble in the opening sentence of the section labeled “Biography,” which describes Thomas as “a highly sought after educational leader who is renowned for his work in inspiring people in communities and government to achieve the best for those who depend on public education.” Maybe that’s true in some parallel universe, but not here in Beaumont where Thomas and his cronies have sought to divide the community along racial lines to cement their power. They have largely succeeded with this divisive ploy, much to the regret of many city residents of both colors who lament the byproduct of this tactic — a Beaumont divided like it hasn’t been for 40 years.

The fourth paragraph of this sham bio revisits a tired BISD talking point about some ephemeral online magazine that named BISD one of the nation’s Top 10 school districts – in exchange for a list of BISD vendors to whom they could sell advertising. The whole Top 10 rating is a blatant lie as even the most dimwitted functionary at BISD headquarters must surely know. A recent report by the Texas Education Agency shows only four out of 23 BISD schools evaluated in 2012 meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards, the federal accountability system under the No Child Left Behind Act. With 19 out of 23 BISD schools failing to meet minimal standards, anybody calling that a Top 10 track record needs to take some remedial math.

You might want to give Rick Perry a call. If you think Butch has done a good job here, tell that to the guv. But if you’ve had your eyes and ears open for the past 16 years, tell him what Thomas has done to this community.