K-12 Public Education

School Finance: K-12 Public Education

Education is the bedrock of an informed democracy and the bridge to lifelong opportunities. As a state, we rely on our public education system to develop a talented workforce and promote shared prosperity. But in order to fulfill our promise to the next generation of young Texans, we must first ensure that there is sufficient opportunity and support for all kids to get a quality education, no matter where they live or what their background.

Equity in Focus

English language learner students are a large and growing part of the Texas student population. During the 2018-19 school year, 19 percent of Texas students were identified as ELL. While the Legislature created new funding to encourage dual language programs in 2019, currently only 20 percent of ELL students have access to that instructional model.

New Report: Recapture — The Most Misunderstood Aspect of the Texas School Finance System

When school budgets get tight, property-wealthy districts are often quick to blame the primary equity tool of the school finance system: recapture. However, recapture, also known as “Robin Hood,” is not the villain in this story. In order to increase school funding so that all districts are able to support high-quality education for all students, Texans must demand a finance system that meets the true costs of providing a solid public education.

The Lost Decade

Our latest joint report by Every Texan and the Texas American Federation of Teachers (Texas AFT) shows how Texas schools are underfunded and facing devastating staffing shortages. Without significant statewide investment in public school funding, Texas is facing a retention crisis for certified teachers and qualified school staff. Texas students are at threat of losing crucial care and support.

Learning English in Texas

This joint report by Every Texan and the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) introduces the current state of education for English learners in Texas, discusses the challenges and outcomes of bilingual and ESL education, and provides recommendations to improve equitable student performance, opportunities, and state funding. Texas can no longer afford to shortchange our English Learner students. 

Background

Well-funded schools are able to offer small student-to-faculty ratios, attract and retain high-quality teachers, and engage students with arts and computer science programs. Most of the money in Texas public education (79 percent) goes to pay direct educational costs, such as the salaries of teachers that prepare our children for their future.

Recognizing that money matters in education, the 2019 Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3 (HB 3)—an $11.6 billion school finance reform law that dedicates over $6 billion toward investments in education and $5 billion toward replacing school property taxes with state aid. This shift, from local property taxes to state aid, costs the state more money without actually sending additional funding into classrooms.

HB 3 took many steps in the right direction. It made many long-overdue renovations to the school finance system, like increased funding for early education and a greater focus on college and career readiness. Other funding, however — including for special education and bilingual/English as a Second Language education — remains outdated.

If we’re going to fully realize the goals of this law, however, Texas schools need sustainable and predictable funding. The ongoing property tax cuts initiated by HB 3 will put a strain on the state’s budget and limit resources available for future investments in Texans’ priorities. While the school finance system will always need tweaks and adjustments to run efficiently, the greatest challenge for lawmakers going forward will be ensuring the Texas revenue system is capable of meeting all the state’s needs. 

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Related Resources

Testimony Opposing SB 1

Every Texan opposes SB 1, because it puts tax cuts before kids by accelerating the costly elimination of the Tier I M&O property tax rate

Meet Our Staff

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Chandra Kring Villanueva

Program Director, Economic Opportunity Team

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Jaime Puente

K-12 Education and Immigration Policy Analyst, Economic Opportunity Team

New Report: Learning English in Texas

This joint report by Every Texan and the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) introduces the current state of education for English learners in Texas, discusses the challenges and outcomes of bilingual and ESL education, and provides recommendations to improve equitable student performance, opportunities, and state funding. Texas can no longer afford to shortchange our English Learner students.