Texas ranks number 46 in the country, on the fourth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress reading proficiency, which is a deterioration from position 41, five years ago. There is also a general discontentment with the quality of education in high schools, which lowers the readiness for students to join college (Cortez 8). During the 2018 teachers strike, the funding problem emerged as a major factor in the general underperformance of the state in education. They cited that the state has underfunded public-school districts. Some critics have asserted that the funding problem is primarily a lawmaker’s failure to allocate enough educational funds.
Currently, Texas public education is funded through a sophisticated old formula. The formula sources funds from the state, local taxes, and some through the recapture – Robin Hood program (Elsaadi 356). The state revenue contribution is meant to supplement the local taxes, for the inherently inequitable districts. While this formula worked in the last third decade, it is currently undermining the quality of education, through ill educational funding approaches.
Nevertheless, lawmakers can correct the formula. Some viable methods include an increase in the per-student educational funding increase throughout the districts. Secondly, increase the funds allocated for students from low-income families. Thirdly, reduce the reliance on property tax to fund education. Fourthly, allocate funds for talent and special groups. Fifth, increase monetary support for early childhood literacy, and sixth, appreciate the outcome-based funding model.
This issue raises three critical questions. First, how much money is required to re-establish a better public education system? Secondly, which are the feasible sources of funds to include in the new public education funding formula. Third, will the formula increase the tax burden on the community? The three questions are open to political debate since they concern lawmaking and public funds. For instance, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance reported that a $1.7 billion would be okay, while School finance attorney David Thompson advises that $5 to $6 billion is required (Phillips, Phillips & Poppe par.7). Concerning funding, there are propositions by legislatures to include a dollar tax for public education, where a 2.5% property tax revenue would cut $3 billion school funding in three years. Lastly, while the suggested formula seeks increased funding, there is a need for certainty that the increased tax and reliance on state funding will be worth, and not challenge the community economically.
On another political approach, one may ask whether Texas needs an increase in funding for public education, or a re-evaluation of the funding formula. According to Phillips, Phillips & Poppe, Texas funding strategy is old and has some updates that have been pending approval since the 1980s (par.4). According to Carol Buris, and expert in the education sector, different funding formulas such as outcome-based funding would increase the educational outcomes as anticipated with increasing funding (Strauss par.14). In this model, more funds are given to schools performing well compared to others.
In that perspective, one may ask the following political questions. Does allocating funds to high-performance schools guarantee quality education? Notably, such a problem is prone to alteration of performance to gain money. Secondly, does Texas have adequate non-biased lawmakers to devise a new comprehensive and fair funding formula? That way, the topic has developed touching on public education, funding formula, and implications to the state.
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Cortez, Albert. The Status Of School Finance Equity In Texas – A 2009 Update. Intercultural Development Research Association, Texas, 2009, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED510074.pdf. Accessed 4 July 2020.
Elsaadi, Hannah. “The Cost Of Education”. Texas A&M Journal Of Property Law, vol 2, no. 3, 2015, pp. 341-385. Texas A And M University School Of Law, doi:10.37419/jpl.v2.i3.1.
Phillips, Camille et al. “School Finance Reform: What To Expect During The 2019 Legislative Session”. Tpr.Org, 2019, https://www.tpr.org/post/school-finance-reform-what-expect-during-2019-legislative-session. Accessed 4 July 2020.
Strauss, Valerie. “It’S A Really Bad Way To Fund Schools — But Texas May Adopt It Anyway”. The Woshington Post, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/01/13/its-really-bad-way-fund-schools-texas-may-adopt-it-anyway/. Accessed 4 July 2020.