When Texas established its current system of funding education a decade ago, it went from being one of the least equitable to one of the most equitable. As a result of fair funding and other reforms it made possible, students of all kinds across the state are getting a better quality education. But today, we are facing a recent trend of inadequate increases in state funding and putting equity at risk. Texans need straight talk. Here are key facts about the current system and some proposed changes. Other parts of this web site give you district-level and county-level facts. By showing our commitment to equity, we can make sure that Texas public schools provide an excellent education for all of our children.
Texas has 4.3 million public schoolchildren, with 55 percent classified as economically disadvantaged and 14 percent as English language learners. Texas has one of the largest and fastest-growing school-age populations in the nation.
Our strength is in our diversity. About 62 percent of students are considered racial or ethnic minorities. The percentages of minority students in the lower elementary grades are even higher.
There are 1,035 school districts in Texas with 294,258 teachers.
There are 152 high-wealth districts that serve about 500,000 students. The remaining 883 districts educate about 3.7 million students.
Annually, about $30 billion is spent on public schools in Texas, with about $12 billion coming from the state, $1 billion from the federal government and $17 billion from local taxes.
During the last two decades, the State of Texas has dropped its share of education funding from 52 percent to 36 percent. (See graphic.)
In 2002, businesses paid about 44 percent of school property taxes, residential properties paid about 49 percent and undeveloped land paid about 7 percent.
About $91 billion in property value is lost because of exemptions for timber, agriculture and wildlife management.
About $238 million is lost through a legal loophole that allows major corporations to avoid paying the franchise tax.
If the current system’s equity provision (recapture) is eliminated, nine of every 10 districts will lose more than a combined $1 billion in funding.
About $8 billion in revenue would be lost by cutting school property taxes in half.
A 1 percent increase in the sales tax would raise $1.9 billion a year.