School Finance is Not a Game

When I get to Austin my number one priority will be to end the shell game that the legislature is playing with our taxes. ALL our school tax money should be going to public education, but it isn’t.

Texas only gets a C- in Education

Every child should have access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Public schools must be fully funded to achieve the goal of providing children with the tools they need to succeed.

Unfortunately, Texas ranked 43rd in the nation and was given a C- in Education Week’s 2017 report card. It earned a C on student’s chance for success later in life but a D for school finance. Now is not the time for the state government to take funding away from public schools and bow to pressure from special interests that propose using tax-funded vouchers to finance private education as an alternative. I question their motives and offer this short list of arguments favoring public schools over privatization:

  • Funding private schools with tax revenue would likely divert funds away from public education.
  • Tax funding of private schools with religious affiliation would violate the separation of church and state.
  • Private schools with a profit motive would likely increase costs and direct decision-making toward business interests rather than community interests.
  • Student safety in public schools is an advantage because of the legal requirement and ability to conduct full criminal background checks on all staff.
  • Only public schools have a legal requirement to employ certified teachers, principals and administrators.
  • Few private schools have the resources needed to employ full time specialists to support the education program, including counselors, curriculum advisors, tutors, reading advisors, and special education teachers.
  • Public schools are usually located near communities they serve, reducing the need for bussing and the time spent by parents to commute between home, school and work. This can’t be said about private schools.
  • Public schools benefit from statewide efforts to develop education standards for all subjects and grade levels.
  • Public schools are able to offer students educational and extra-curricular opportunities not available in a private setting.
  • Oversight of public schools, including the ability to attend school board meetings, is required by law and is an open process that encourages public participation and comment.
  • Elected school boards are responsible to everyone in the District and can be recalled or replaced in the next election. Private schools lack such oversight of education cost or quality, and that’s a concern when funded by taxpayers.
  • Equality is also an issue, because private schools don’t have to accept new students if there’s not enough space, or if they have a disability or learning deficiency, or if they are of the wrong faith.

Related Videos

In this video, Texas Superintendent John Kuhn indicts inequitable funding of public schools and says, “Educational malpractice doesn’t happen in the classroom. The greatest educational malpractice … happens in the State house, not the schoolhouse.” That’s another reason I want to go to Austin and represent House District 106.

Addressing one public policy issue often involves understanding and addressing others that contribute to it. Just as student and school performance is connected to tax policy and state funding, it’s also related to immigration policy and having quality teachers. That’s why the following video is so disturbing. It features Ivonne Orozko, a 27-year-old school teacher in New Mexico. She was named State Teacher of the Year but could be deported as a DACA recipient.

Related Articles:

The Path to Prosperity Lies Through Education (SF Chronicle) “Growth doesn’t ‘trickle down;’ It rises up” — through strategic investment in education, health, and infrastructure …

The only way to grow the economy is by investing in the education, health care and infrastructure that average Americans need to be more productive. These more productive workers command higher wages. With higher wages, they purchase more goods and services. These purchases motivate companies to expand and invest, and to create more and better jobs. The Trump-Republican tax overhaul would take us in the opposite direction. It cuts healthcare and raises taxes on the middle class, which would dampen growth.

Texas Policies That Contribute to Our Current Property Tax Crisis (Texas Tribune) — According to Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, “As we move forward, the property tax crisis is set to get much worse. The state’s current budget relies upon local property tax increases while the state will reduce its own school funding over the same period. And homeowners will continue to get hit doubly hard because they will shoulder an outsized portion of the increase in local property taxes due to the Equal and Uniform loophole.”


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