Governor Greg Abbott addressed five emergency items during his State of the State Address earlier in the week. One item at the top of the list for the 86th legislative session, is education reform.
There are many sides to the school funding challenge in Texas. Some say one major issue is the system is heavily dependent on property tax values.
Dr. Scott Elliff, former superintendent of the Corpus Christi Independent School District says, “The system is not unconstitutional, but it’s definitely broken.”
Funding for public schools comes from both property taxes and the state. However, funding from the state has been steadily decreasing for a decade. For example, ten years ago, the state provided 48.5 percent of public school funding. In 2017, that percentage dropped to 42.2 percent.
Elliff, who is now a professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, says state lawmakers must act now to restructure funding for public schools.
“Local tax payers will see that their schools will not be able to remain open,” Elliff said.
In the State of the State Address, Governor Abbott said there’s also another issue. “Only about 40 percent of 3rd graders are reading at grade level by the time they finish 3rd grade,” said Governor Abbott.
Improving that alarming statistic, Governor Abbott says, starts with raising teacher pay.
Congrado Garcia, the Superintendent at West Oso ISD, weighed in.
“Our kids want to be like anybody else,” said Garcia. “If we don’t provide them the same hope and opportunity, it would be a very sad day for children.”
Now it’s up to state lawmakers to find a way to reform how schools are funded, and how teachers are paid.