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“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham lincoln

Texas is lagging nationally and globally in our duty to equip our youngest citizens to lead us into a prosperous and positive future.

Less than 1 percent of new jobs created between 2010 and 2016 went to people with a high school education or less (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots.”). In Texas we have a mere 24% post-secondary completion rate at a two or four year institute within six years of high school graduation.

"Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement."

Texas Constitution, Article 7, Section 1

…it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make SUITABLE PROVISION for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.

STATE POLICY Texas Education Code 42.001.

(b) The public school finance system of this state shall adhere to a standard of neutrality that provides for SUBSTANTIALLY EQUAL ACCESS to similar revenue per student at similar tax effort, considering all state and local tax revenues…

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, in the court's 2016 school finance opinion

ADEQUACY: Texas needs to invest more in education

1. Texas ranks at the bottom nationally for investment in education.

Depending on how dollars are adjusted, this places Texas 36th or 47th out of 50 states for investment in education. In 2014-15, Texas spent $9,818 per pupil in non-federal dollars. The parallel figures in other states range from $7,032 to $23,096. For the country as a whole, the average per-pupil spending was $12,258. Explore the data with the links below.

Data Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education accessed through http://www.edcounts.org/createtable/step1.php

2. Education spending is not maintaining pace with inflation.

Overall spending in the current budget is up significantly — $5.8 billion more than it was in the previous two-year budget, according to the Legislative Budget Board. However, state support for public schools continues to fall behind the cost of inflation and is not adjusted to account for changes in student needs or increasingly rigorous academic standards.

3. The state continues to put more of the funding burden on local taxpayers.

The 2017 Texas Legislature passed a budget that is dependent upon local property tax payments (that pay for schools) going up by 14 percent, benefiting the state budget by billions. The exact line: “Property values and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based shall be increased by 7.04 percent for tax year 2017 and by 6.77 percent in tax year 2018.” The state’s share of education funding is definitely decreasing — sliding from 44 percent of the total Foundation School Program in 2016 to an estimated 38 percent in 2019.

Data Source: Legislative Budget Board, Credit: Center for Public Policy Priorities

Where do we find the money?

Currently, Texas' $10B "rainy day fund" is uninvested and, until last year, didn't even earn enough interest to keep pace with inflation. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar compares this strategy to burying the money in a hole on the Capitol lawn.

Hegar has proposed that a portion of the rainy day fund, $3 billion, be diverted into a separate pool with an aggressive investment strategy, which could generate revenue almost immediately. With additional biennial investments, within 10 years the endowment fund could pump out $1 billion a year to help pay for state priorities like education.

EQUITY: Texas needs to invest most where the need is greatest

1. Our students of color are disproportionately impacted by conditions of concentrated poverty and continued disparities in resource allocations.

Source: State of Texas Children 2016 Report

Bilingual education saw the most drastic reductions in spending of all the instructional programs. Since 2008, bilingual education spending has declined by 40 percent at elementary campuses with the highest percentage of low-income students.

2. Texas has one of the country's most regressive (least equitable) school finance systems.

One calculation puts Texas tied at the very bottom - #50 for 'progressive' (aka - equitable) school funding. Despite decades of lawsuits, court rulings, complicated funding formulas, and many legislative band-aids, the wealthiest school districts in Texas still receive 19% more funding for their students than the highest-poverty districts do (which equates to around $2,700 more per student).

Source: http://viz.edbuild.org/maps/2016/cola/resource-inequality/#_ftn2
Source: http://apps.urban.org/features/school-funding-do-poor-kids-get-fair-share/

3. More funding for low-income students helps close achievement gaps.

States with more progressive funding formulas have had a positive impact on low-income students' performance in reading and math. In fact, studies show that increased funding equity benefits students at every income level. Analysis also suggests that an improvement in the equity of funding across a state can improve academic performance slightly without any additional spending overall.

For children from low-income families, increasing per-pupil spending yields large improvements in educational attainment, wages, family income, and reductions in the annual incidence of adult poverty. In fact, a 25 percent spending increase over all school age years is sufficiently large to eliminate the attainment gaps between children from low- and high-income families.

INNOVATION: Texas needs to invest everything in proven strategies

How money is spent is just as important as how much money is spent. The programmatic choices made by districts and the quality of execution of those choices at the campus level – with a special focus on quality instruction – drive outcomes far more than macro-level budgetary decisions.

Where should we invest?

Texas Education Agency recommends several, research-based, promising practices worth exploring:

• Comprehensive Teacher Quality & Placement Initiatives

• Focused Instructional Leadership Initiatives

• Quality Early Learning Programs

• High Quality, Vetted Instructional Materials (Blended & Traditional)

• Increased Summer Learning Opportunities

• School Systems transforming into Systems of Great Schools

Promising practices show results and require investment.

Students attending Dallas ISD PreK perform better at every grade level, are less likely to be chronically absent, and are less likely to be held back than students who did not attend PreK. To resource these gains, Dallas ISD increased it's investment in PreK by $24 million since 2014.

Source: Dallas ISD Early Learning

ACE is a strategic staffing initiative of Dallas ISD designed to accelerate the transformation of our most struggling schools. After just one year in the program, student performance improved across all content areas, attendance improved, and discipline referrals nearly disappeared. This initiative costs the district about $1,200 additional dollars per student.

“Education costs money but ignorance costs more. It is the people of Texas who must set the standards, make the sacrifice, and give direction to their leaders as to what kind of education system they want. The problems only get worse the longer we wait. The time to speak is now.”

Judge Dietz, 2005

Credits:

Created with images by MabelAmber - "umbrella rain protection" • skeeze - "space shuttle atlantis liftoff mission rocket astronaut"

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