School Reform Isn’t Acceptable if It Isn’t Equitable

Statement by María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., IDRA Executive Director on the Closing of the First 2005 Texas Legislative Special Session – July 22, 2005

Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something, especially when “something” is the wrong thing to do. The Intercultural Development Association is committed to creating schools that work for all students. We were pleased that the Texas legislature has chosen to end the latest special session without acting on a school finance plan that most agree was inequitable, inadequate and inappropriate.

Our assessment of the plans under consideration in the just-concluded special session indicate that neither the House nor the Senate proposals even came close to meeting the mandates outlined by the district court in West Orange-Cove vs. Neeley, which called for substantive increases in state funding, increased funding for bilingual and compensatory education, and expanded state efforts to fund facilities.

According to the Equity Center, the legislature’s final proposal would have increased the funding gap by giving a “typical elementary school in a property-rich district approximately half a million more a year for education than other elementary schools across the state.” And the lack of attention to facilities funding would have made inequities dramatically worse.

Our leaders must do what is needed to meet the state’s constitutional requirement of making “suitable provisions for the establishment of an efficient system of public free schools.” While the state continues to complain about court “interference” in providing quality schools, it has yet to produce a plan that addresses the issues plaguing the current system.

As the Texas Legislature opens yet another special session this week, it is time to worry less about providing tax swaps that only benefit the wealthiest schools in the state and to focus on equitable funding for all schools.

In order to provide meaningful school finance reform that will improve our school finance system, close the educational achievement gap and meet the standards set by the courts, the legislature must:

  • Keep and improve equitable funding between property rich and property poor school districts.
  • Substantially fund facilities construction so that school districts can provide a nurturing and supportive learning environment for our school children.
  • Keep and increase funding “weights” to meet the cost of educating school children who are English language learners, economically disadvantaged, gifted and talented, and/or who are disabled.

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Texas cannot afford an excellent system for some and a minimally adequate system for the rest. We can have excellent education for all Texas school children! The future of Texas depends on it.

Media Contact: Christie L. Goodman, APR 210-444-1710; christie.goodman@idra.org

IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, directed by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to creating schools that work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.

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