With more time testing and less time learning, Texas students are being short-changed. With testing activity now taking from 28 to 45 days each school year, testing is out of control. What can we do? Save Texas Schools asks our legislature to take a second look at high-stakes testing that is draining both time and resources from…
The 2011 Texas Legislature chopped more than a billion dollars from higher education, dashing the dream of college for many Texas students. While scholarships disappeared, many campuses were forced to raise tuition costs, a deadly combination for families without the resources to make up the difference.
The following letter was published in the Washington Post :
This is an open letter issued by John Kuhn, superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District. Addressed to Texas legislators, this plea for help is modeled on the famous letter that William Barret Travis sent from the Alamo right before it fell in 1836 (the text of which follows Kuhn’s). Kuhn refers to plans by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to cut billions of dollars from public school funding.
How Many New Students Can Texas Expect?
According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, the State Data Center estimates that the number of public elementary and secondary school students will grow by about 900,000 between 2010 and 2040.
Texas already has the nation’s second-largest elementary and secondary school enrollment, accounting for 9 percent of the U.S. total.
How does Texas school funding stack up against other states?
State rankings for school funding vary by year and methodology used, but Texas has consistently trailed most states in per pupil education spending. Texas was already ranked 45th in 2008, well before the 2011 Legislature slashed an additional $5.4 billion from funding for public education.
Texas schools are in financial crisis due to a $27 billion hole in the most recent state budget. In short, the state simply did not have enough money to continue funding public education at current levels without increasing taxes, which many elected officials had sworn not do. Instead, these legislators chose to slash $5.4 billion from public education, along with huge cuts to other vital programs.
The Rainy Day Fund, formally known as the Economic Stabilization Fund, is the state’s savings account. The money comes from excess oil and gas production taxes and some unspent general revenue. It is intended to provide a cushion for unexpected budget shortfalls, but requires a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature to use it.
As the state budget crisis forces more Texas schools to close their doors, expect an attendant loss in property values for Lone Star homeowners. A number of academic studies have found that what common sense already tells us: when a school closes, property in the surrounding area loses value.
When the 2011 Texas Legislature eliminated all state grants for full-day pre-Kindergarten programs, it was a body blow to many struggling Texas families. But the harm to our state’s economic and social future may be far greater.
Education dollars invested now pay big dividends later – and nowhere is this benefit more evident than in high quality pre-Kindergarten programs. Numerous studies show that, for every $1 invested in high quality pre-K, taxpayers save up to $7 in future costs by reducing the need for remedial and special education, welfare, and criminal justice services.