Facts and insights about Texas public schools

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Thank Legislators for High Property Taxes

In a recent column in Texas Monthly, R.G. Ratcliffe points out that school finance formulas have allowed the state to reduce what it pays for public education and shift that burden to local taxpayers.

While school districts collect property taxes, the Legislature makes the rules on how those funds are distributed through complex school funding formulas. That means those who pay property taxes (which is virtually everyone, since that cost is passed on to renters) now shoulder a greater share of the cost of funding public education. He concludes that unless legislators decide to raise taxes elsewhere, high property taxes will continue to be a burden.

Read “Are Your Property Taxes Too High? Thank a Legislator,” posted on the Texas Monthly Website.

February 23, 2017

Texas Public Schools Educate the Vast Majority of Texas Children

Did you know that in Texas, 90 percent of children receive a public education? Read this policy brief from Raise Your Hand Texas for additional information.

February 22, 2017

SB 3 Would Drain Funds from Already Cash-Strapped Texas School Districts

The much-discussed Senate Bill (SB) 3 seeks to establish education vouchers in two forms: education savings accounts (ESAs) and tax credit scholarships/educational expense assistance. The tax credit scholarships alone will cost schools up to $100 million. The amount allotted for ESAs would be unlimited.

TASB President Charles Stafford recently wrote an editorial on the failings of ESAs by focusing on the name itself.

In terms of education, “…there is no mechanism in the bill that will ensure that students who use ESAs will receive an education that meets any standard of quality.”

Regarding savings, “…there will be no savings to taxpayers. We will keep sending money to the state. There will be no savings to school districts.”

On accounts, “…SB 3 states very plainly that there won’t be much effort to see that recipients account for how the money is used. Other than outlining some very general categories for the use of ESA funds, no oversight is described.”

The Legislature is adamant that all public schools be transparent, subject to scrutiny, and accountable to the public. No such rules apply to the proposed use of ESAs. “It’s a baffling contradiction in the use of public funds,” Stafford notes.

Read the entire editorial, “Proposed voucher plan bad for Texas students,” in the Denton Record-Chronicle.

February 21, 2017

US Public Schools “Win Where it Matters”

Much is made of the fact that US students don’t earn top scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). That was true again in 2015, prompting much consternation.

But US student performance is much better in key areas set out by corporate leaders: producing creative, innovative, collaborative problem solvers. The story “Three Global indexes show that US public schools must be doing something right,” shines a light on US student performance on the Global Creativity Index, the Global Innovation Index, and the Global Entrepreneurship Index where our students rank second, fourth, and first respectively. Read the entire story in the Washington Post.

February 17, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled by ‘School Choice’

Ken Zornes, a former Dallas ISD school board president, wrote a commentary on school choice stating that if approved, school vouchers could reroute millions of dollars from Texas public schools to private schools or home schools.

In addition to funneling money away from public schools, school choice plans don’t fall under the state’s accountability system for public education and won’t have to comply with those rules. So taxpayers will be paying for the education of a group of students with no information on where their money is going or whether it’s being spent effectively.

Read his entire commentary in the Dallas Morning News.

February 14, 2017

RYHT: The costly shortcomings of school vouchers

Raise Your Hand Texas (RYHT) just published an important policy brief explaining why school vouchers aren’t a good choice for Texas. “When it comes to school vouchers, additional choices do not necessarily equate to higher quality choices. As explained in this brief, school voucher programs that operate outside the public system with limited or no transparency and no accountability requirements do not have a track record of success,” the brief states.

RYHT notes that public schools educate 90 percent of school-age Texans and already offer a variety of high-quality choices.

Read the RYHT brief.

February 7, 2017

TASB Statement Calls Voucher Schemes “A Betrayal of Trust”

Senate Bill 3, which calls for “education savings accounts” and “tax credit scholarships” (other names for vouchers) was filed Monday. TASB responded with a statement opposing vouchers because they divert public funds to private institutions with no accountability.

Read the full news release.

February 1, 2017

Study of Charter Funding Reveals Funding Disparity

A 2014 study comparing the funding of open-enrollment charter schools to Texas public schools reached some interesting conclusions:

  • ISDs with more than 1,000 ADA generally are funded lower than their equally-sized charter school counterparts.
  • ISDs with fewer than 1,000 students are generally funded higher than their charter school counterparts.
  • If charters were funded like ISDs, the state revenue for larger charters would decrease by more than $113 million.
  • If ISDs were funded like charters, total state support would increase by over $4.7 billion.

The study, commissioned by Raise Your Hand Texas, was conducted by Texas school finance experts Moak, Casey & Associates. Read their full executive summary for additional information.

January 31, 2017

A–F Ratings Oversimplify the Work Done by Public Schools

In an article in Trib Talk, Charles Luke, associate director of Pastors for Texas Children, says thousands of students and most schools feel shortchanged after receiving preliminary accountability ratings through the state’s new A–F system. The system was designed to provide a clear, concise measure of a school’s progress, like a letter grade a student might receive. The preliminary letter grades were disappointing for students and educators and did little to alleviate confusion about accountability ratings.

“When the complex nature of educating large numbers of diverse children can be subverted with an oversimplified letter grade that says next to nothing, arguing for the need to replace that school becomes that much easier,” Luke wrote.

Read “School ratings are a shallow attempt to grade a complex system” in Trib Talk, a publication of the Texas Tribune.

January 30, 2017

Texas Schools Are Underperforming? Not According to TEA Data

At yesterday’s school choice rally at the Capitol, a prominent Texas state official said that the majority of Texas students attend underperforming schools.

Data collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) doesn’t support that statement. This recent TEA news release states that nearly 90 percent of all Texas public schools met Texas academic accountability standards.

January 25, 2017