Education Reform

Charter schools have been heavily promoted in Texas in recent years, but funding for teachers’ salaries remains a matter of contention in the state. The state was a model in the 1990s for then-Governor George W. Bush’s (R-TX) efforts to hold teachers to a higher standard and fund schools based on performance by implementation of student assessment tests that grade knowledge, skills, and learning levels. However, the tests have been highly criticized because teachers in the state ended up spending a majority of the time teaching to the tests.

Texas Citizen Action Network President and CEO Jim Cardle said a recent poll “should be of particular interest to legislators vowing to hold the line against new taxes. The State Board of Education has done its job by sending $3 billion in new money to legislators to help them address the budget crisis, and not a single cent of that money came from taxes. This is six times more than the cost of the new textbooks. Now it is time for legislators to do right by the schoolchildren of Texas and buy them the instructional materials they were promised.” Texas lawmakers should make sure $550 million of the $3 billion provided by the State Board of Education (SBOE) is used this session according to the purpose specified in the Texas Constitution, which is to buy textbooks for the state’s 5 million schoolchildren.

The Texas Insider has written:

“Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) is again serving as Chair of the Finance Committee’s Education Subcommittee to work on the Education portion of the state’s budget and leading efforts to examine how education dollars are being spent, evaluate the effectiveness of spending & working diligently to come up with a strategy for funding education. Currently, Education and Health & Human Services funding constitutes 86% of the state’s budget, which makes it essential that spending priorities in these sections of the budget be accurately assessed before any other of Texas’ financial obligations can be reviewed.”