A child’s future should not depend on his or her heritage, parents’ income or neighborhood. Our sense of justice insists that America be the land of opportunity where all citizens are considered equal, that wherever a student comes from or lives he or she should have the opportunity to succeed.
All children must have access to quality education. How we carry this out has led to an ongoing debate. There are still people who have difficulty accepting that access should be relatively equal for all children. But we can have a strong public school system that provides an excellent education for all children. We can and we must.
IDRA Fair Funding Policy Issues for Texas
Currently, Texas has a two-tiered, unjust public school system that provides poor or mediocre education for most children and excellent education for a select few.
Until the backwards steps in the early 2000s, many schools were beginning to reap the benefits from the state’s earlier commitment to equalize education funding for all of its children. Student achievement improved, taxpayers were more equally sharing the cost of paying for public schools, and businesses were seeing the results of better-prepared graduates.
After a 12-year span of more equitable school funding, changes were made that weakened the system, privileging a few children to the detriment of many. This was followed by huge unnecessary funding cuts that are crippling our schools. The Texas Legislature made significant improvements in 2019, but the state is not where it needs to be.
- All state and local aid made available for public schools should be funded through equalized formulas.
- Efforts to reduce recapture must be done equitably.
- State aid for students served in bilingual education or compensatory education programs should be increased to 40% of regular program costs.
The quality of children’s education should not be determined by the neighborhood where they happen to live. In the context of global competition, excellent schools are needed for all students – not good schools for a few and mediocre ones for the rest. The research is clear: educational resources matter, especially for low-income and English learner (EL) students. Research indicates that compensatory education and EL education costs in Texas average about 40 percent over regular program costs. However, over 35 years ago, the state set funding far below recommended levels for those students, and those funding formulas remain unchanged.
Infographic: Texas State Divestment of Education – The Texas Constitution requires the State to provide education for all students. But state funding has dropped, not risen. During the last almost two decades, the state has reduced its contribution from 54 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2018. See printable infographic (PDF).
Testimony and Statements
Infographic: 7 Things to Ensure School Finance Equity
Video and Text: Without Increased Resources for English Learners, Texas Compromises Education for One-fifth of Students, Invited testimony of IDRA presented for the House Public Education Committee on the recommendations of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance – Morgan Craven, J.D., National Director of Policy, February 13, 2019
Testimony: Equity Matters for All Schoolchildren
Bilingual Education Funding
Bilingual Allotment Data Dashboard: IDRA created this data dashboard to show scenarios of how increasing the bilingual education allotment will impact schools within each Texas House or Senate district.
IDRA Texas School Finance news dashboard for curated news and resources during the 2019 legislative session.
New Report: Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, Education Law Center, 2018
Radio: Explaining School Finance: How Does Texas Fund Public Education?, Ryan Poppe, Texas Public Radio, August 4, 2017
Video: School finance and opportunity: The law and the road ahead, American Enterprise Institute, February 13, 2017
Online Story: Business Group’s Report Says Broken Education System Will Sink Texas Economy, Bekah McNeel, The Rivard Report, January 26, 2017
Online Story: In school finance decision, the poor people have lost again, David Hinojosa, Texas Tribune, June 14, 2016
Video: Conversation: Albert Kauffman and David Hinojosa on Texas School Finance, NowCastSA, May 18, 2016
Print Story: Texas gets ‘F’ in school funding report, Ericka Mellon, Houston Chronicle, March 16, 2016
IDRA’s initiative, Fair Funding Now! for Texas Education
Principles for Fair Funding for the Common Good
Testimony: Equity and Meaningful Educational Opportunity for All
Invited Testimony of IDRA – Presented by David Hinojosa, J.D., National Director of Policy, before the Texas School Finance Commission, March 2018
The State of Texas has reduced its share of public education spending during the last decade from 49 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2017. These state cuts to education and increases in property values have resulted in local communities footing the bill for K-12 public schools. And in 2016, Texas received a D on a national school finance report with Texas ranking only 45th in the country. It doesn’t have to be this way.
At the start of the 2017 special session, a diverse collective of education groups with hundreds of thousands of members across Texas called on state leaders to enact positive school finance reform that ensures each and every child in every neighborhood public school has access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.