Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of opinion articles concerning education funding and related issues submitted jointly by the superintendents and school board presidents named at the bottom of the article.
Another legislative session is upon us, and what should public schools expect this time around?
Well, let’s see. If the past is any indication, maybe we should once again prepare for the worst. Superintendents just don’t understand how the most valuable resource in this state continues to be looked upon as a liability line in the state budget.
Public schools are the most important factor in a successful future for Texas. Ask any young parent how important it is that their children receive a good education. Ask any grandparent how important it is for their grandchildren to be educated in today’s world.
What this state has done to public education since 2006 is embarrassing to say the least. Currently, our state ranks 47th in spending per student in our United States. Our teachers are paid better than teachers in 13 states. We think that means they rank about 37th in the U.S. In fact, the average teacher salary in Texas has decreased for the last two years, mainly due to a $5.4 billion dollar cut in public school funding over the current biennium.
As one of the richest states in the union, we spend as little as possible on our children’s futures. It just doesn’t make sense. The state increases testing and the rigors of the test and gives the schools less money to educate our students. At the same time, the state wants our schools to emphasize more career and technology oriented classes but doesn’t adequately fund those programs.
The state calls on professional witnesses to testify that “money doesn’t matter.” These “experts” reject the relationship between the quality of education and the rising costs of adequate instruction, even though numerous studies and plain common sense tells us that students need supplies and technology to be prepared to meet their futures. How could anyone say that if provided more money, a school could not recruit more highly qualified teachers, provide more technology for students, purchase more technical trades equipment, renovate school environments providing safer and more learner friendly settings for instruction, and on and on. The State just does not want to spend the money.