Friday, January 21, 2011

Texas Education Progress and 2011 Budget Crisis

The currently proposed education budget reductions of 13% now being considered in the Texas House of Representatives will have terrible consequences! There are 4,850,000 children in the public schools of Texas. The current recommendations, if followed, would amount to one teacher, or other school employee, loosing their job for every 50 public school children in Texas.

Such drastic cuts would certainly have a very negative affect on education in Texas!

Below is one record of the progress made by our children in Texas over the past dozen years.  It is an enrollment by grade spreadsheet for all the public school children in Texas showing their progress toward graduation. (Click on the spreadsheet to make it larger.) Significant improvements have happened during these years:
This spreadsheet clearly shows wonderful progress by our children.  Yes, the percentage of 9th graders who are getting a diploma within 4 years is embarrasingly low, only 67.4 percent by the most recent numbers available for the Class of 2009. But that is a 5% improvement from 8 years before.  Please notice that in all major categories Texas is improving!  Also, it is indicated that more improvements were on the way.  The notorious 9th grade bulge, where 9th graders get stuck repeating the 9th grade, and too often just drop out, is shrinking. That indicates that the graduation rate in two years will continue to rise. As dropout rates go down so do crime rates. But, with this dramatic budget cut, and the loss of teachers, will this progress continue to happen?  (Please email if you want a copy of this Excel spreadsheet to work with.  Data is all from the TEA web site.)

There are many issues.  Public availability online of itemized budgets for every publicly funded service in Texas should be mandatory. This includes every school and school district, as well as roads, medical funding and all other services paid for by taxes. All the details should be easy to locate and understand online so the public can see how their money is spent.  They certainly should voice opinions on cuts to make, or else decide on how to provide better for our children and find the money/resources needed.

Texas has constantly been improving the education of our children.  That can continue if we make the needed sacrifices. What else in the budget could more directly change the future of Texas than investments, or the failure to invest, in our children?