Texas Education Essay
Texas law makers and citizens have been concerned about the education of our young people since before declaring our Independence from Mexico in 1836. Texas revolutionaries listed “failure to establish any public system of education, although possession of almost boundless resources,” among the reasons to become independent from Mexico. Since that time public education has seen countless policy changes, constitutional amendments and revisions, and laws changed to meet the needs of Texas students. (1) How has the Texas education system changed?
How have these policies affected our young people, and what challenges lay ahead for students, educators, parents, and policy makers? At the birth of Texas public education there were many problems that policy makers had to overcome. How to educate students in such rural areas? How will public education be funded? These were a few of the challenges that lawmakers of that time faced but one challenge they didn’t not have land as one of them. The first public school law was written setting aside large amounts of land in each county for public school use.
Later the amount was increased and additional land was set aside for the first State College. However what Texas lacked was funding. (2) In 1845 Texas received 10 million in five percent U. S. Indemnity bonds for settling a boundary claim against the United States. Of this 10 million, 2 million was set aside as a permanent school fund. The permanent school fund was later directed to be invested in bonds. Also, during 1845 the state constitution set aside one-tenth of the annual state tax set aside to support free public schools.
(1) The founding fathers of Texas public education were working toward the goal of adequately funding the Texas education system. Today the permanent school fund accounts for approximately $765 million a year. (1) A continued effort has also been made through the life of Texas public education to develop a system of accountability. 1885 marked the first year a system of accreditation was used for Texas public schools. At that time selected tests were sent to the University of Texas. If the school was found to be satisfactory students gained automatic admission without examination.
(1) Although the intent was Texas public education had many problems. One was the growing concern for the decline of Texas literacy. Legislatures tried to address this issue in 1984 when Texas passed House Bill 72. The 68th Legislature passed this bill in response to concerns over the adequacy of Texas public schools as reflected by standardized tests. (2) House Bill 72 brought down tougher requirements on students and began rating the schools in 1993. The students were now required to pass a state assessment test in order to meet the graduation requirements.
This was system of testing was the most difficult students had been exposed to up until this point. Also the Bill created the no pass no play rule that requires students to pass every subject in order to participate in any extracurricular activity. (2) Another problem that the Legislature attempted to address was funneling funding to property poor districts. Edgewood ISD v Kirby was filed and claimed that the system for funding public schools was discriminatory against poor districts. Edgewood ISD was against House Bill 72 and wanted a fair system of school funding.
The courts ruled in favor of Edgewood ISD but law makers continued to try and come up with a fair system. The federal government threatened to shut down federal aid for public schools because of non-compliance. In 1990 Legislature tried to pass the “Robin Hood” plan. This plan would redistribute wealth from wealthy districts to poor districts. This Bill failed to pass voters. In 1993 another plan was passed by the State. This gave multiple options to districts to distribute funds equally. (3) Edgewood ISD v Kirby was not the first lawsuit filed in an effort to improve Texas public schools.
Del Rio ISD v Salvatierra tried to show how inferior education facilities were for Mexican-Americans and moved toward desegregation. In 1948 Delgado v Bastrop ISD, the judge ruled against segregation of Mexican-American children in public schools. Sweatt v Painter in 1950, challenged “separate but equal” and integration was ultimately addressed with a federal ruling in 1954with Brown v Board of Education and the integration of Mexican-Americans in 1970 with Cisneros v Corpus Christi. In that same year because of discriminatory practices in Texas schools, United States v Texas forced a federal judge to call for all schools to be integrated.
(3) Texas is unique in many ways from other states. Texas is second among size and population and educates 9% of the total U. S. student population. A highly diverse student population creates additional problems. 16% of the student population in 2007 was Limited English Proficient. IN that same year 55. 5% of all students were recognized as economically disadvantaged. In 2007 those two categories ranked the lowest among percentage of students that passed all areas of the State assessment test. With 47% of Limited English Proficient passing all categories and 57% of economically disadvantaged passing all categories.
Texas also ranks 15th in the nation with 8th grade students in mathematics, 31st in reading, and 35th in science. All this unique situation occurs while ranking 49th among funding per student as compared to other states. (4) These statistics put Texas in a unique situation. Texans are educating more people and more of those people are in greater need of a quality education. How can Texas children compete in the job market? What will the Texas workforce look like for these children? Concerns continue to grow over declining school performance and budget deficits.
The budget shortfalls will mean education spending cuts. Texas is a conservative state. Its legislatures take great pride in balancing the state budget with responsible spending. Many times these cuts are made in the name of the children in an attempt to not pass down large amounts of debt. To continue to cut an education system that is at the bottom on spending per student will only push Texans further below the national average of graduation rates. Texas education continues to underperform. (5) Law makers continue to decrease funding in schools and will not increase taxes to attempt to meet the budget shortfalls.
Texas boosts rapid business growth and population growth. They attribute much of this growth to a tax friendly environment for the top 60% income brackets and affordable living for all income brackets. This has made us a national leader among growth and is a source of pride among lawmakers and Texans. (6) Law makers attempted to help the education crisis in Texas during the 83rd legislative session. The passed over 100 laws affecting education. These rules ranged from bonds for charter schools, healthy eating statutes in schools, law enforcement on campuses, testing and ratings of districts, and school financing.
Many laws were made mandating that schools have to perform at a higher level and also that schools have to help produce healthy students while also protecting them. All these programs take more money yet the Texas budget does not allow for additional funds. The state legislatures say that if these schools cannot perform they should be shut down. What options would that leave Texas students and their families? (6) More than 150,000 Texas students are choosing public charter schools over traditional public schools. Public charter schools receive bonds and funding from both the state and federal government similar to traditional public schools.
They boost a higher learning environment while managing to do it on a smaller budget than traditional public schools. They are held to the same Texas accountability systems but have the freedom to develop their own curriculum; where as a traditional public school is held to the state curriculum. The Texas Board of Education approves the curriculum that public schools can use. They develop the curriculum and the district has the freedom to determine how they will teach this to their students. They can use many different programs from traditional text books to the unpopular c-scope curriculum.
Charter schools on the other hand are allowed the freedom to teach how they want to teach and what they want to teach as long as they perform well on the same state assessment tests that public schools must take. (7) Charter schools are an alternative that many Texas parents and students are electing for. The freedom they are allowed are creating a learning friendly environment while providing teachers the freedom to teach. Students are able to learn and teachers are able to teach. All under the same budget constraints that traditional public schools have.
Not having to teach to a particular curriculum is favorable for some parents that may not want a conservative influence on their students. For example the recent conservative wins over social studies curriculum. Conservatives won to modify social studies texts to look favorably on Republican political philosophies and stressing the superiority of American capitalism. The fight continues are could be won in the near future for the removal of the teachings of Darwinism and to move toward the inclusion of the Christian views that founded our nation.
The charter schools will not be held to these same teachings and are free to teach the religious side, conservative side, liberal, and science. Many parents find this form of teaching more favorable and the freedom it provides help to responsibly teach Texas students under the budget constraints that the state mandates. (8) Not all academic changes are viewed as bad. Republicans pushed for information about the violent nature of the Black Panther party is taught in contrast to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, and that the Republican votes are included in teaching to show how Republicans pushed forward on civil rights issues.
Some strides were made in the inclusion of personal responsibility teaching to students, which includes life choices such as suicide, pregnancy, dating violence, eating disorders and drug disorders. Some people such as Mavis Knight, a democrat from Dallas that introduced an amendment for the teachings of the founding fathers on religious freedoms but it was turned down, said “the social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agendas. ” (8) If you were a young adult or adult in the 90’s you was also part of legislative of an advertising campaign to pass the lottery in Texas.
A large part of this campaign was that that the majority of the lottery proceeds would go toward Texas education. Many Texans often wonder how we can need to cut school funding when 21 billion dollars has been contributed through the Texas lottery system. This was true and false all at the same time. 21 billion has been contributed to Texas education. The majority of the proceeds from the Texas lottery are going into the Texas Education fund but the false is that for every dollar contributed by the lottery the general fund decreases its contribution.
So funding remains the same just the contributing party changes. This was a rouse by legislatures at the time and continues to be. (9) Another large source of school funding is property tax. Law makers have continued to address the disparities between district funding in regards to property tax revenue. Property within districts can vary greatly. Some districts may be comprised of multi-million dollar homes while other modest middle class homes and even others that are made up of very poor communities.
These differences in tax revenue base have created large differences in the quality of education provided for Texas students. Lawmakers have attempted to address this with bonds and funding per pupil but any Texas resident that has visited an inner-city school and visited a school in affluent Plano or wealthy areas of the valley know that there are great differences in the amenities provided to students in those districts. (10) Another challenge Texas faces is staffing its schools with quality educators. There is a shortage of educators in Texas.
After the 2011 much publicized decrease in the teaching population and additional constraints on class size. The perception of an already stressful and underpaid profession was damaged. In 2012 the number of teaching certificates acquired was down 24 percent. Projections show that Texans will not meet the number of needed teachers by 2015 if the issue is not addressed. The Texas Workforce Commission predicts that the need for teachers will greatly increase and is the highest projected are of growth in Texas.
The challenge comes in attempted to convince young adults to invest their education dollars in this field. (11) There are many challenges that face Texas educators. How can Texas educators teach to the diverse student population accurately with the other challenges that face the public education system? According to the Kids Count Data Center, Texas has a student population of 16. 2% that receive ESL teaching. These present additional challenges for teachers. Texas was an early pioneer for English as Second Language training.
In 1968 lawmakers pioneered for English deficient students by allowing ESL programs in Texas Schools. Up until that time it was not allowed to have bilingual programs in the schools. Then in 1981 further strides were made when Mexicans Americans were allowed to enter those programs voluntarily to help eliminate discrimination of Mexican American students. Today Mexican American students account for 50. 2% of the student population and although this poses additional challenges Texas must be prepared to meet those challenges. (10) There are so many challenges facing Texas education.
A diverse student population, proper funding, legislatures with personal agendas, increase academic standards, meeting demands of the workforce from laborer to laboratory, all these are achievable. These challenges can be met by Texas parents, legislatures and students. At an early age Texas students are taught how great and unique Texas is and its residents and how we are have risen to many challenges and defeated them. The challenge of education will be gladly met and I feel confident that Texans will see the importance of education and do everything necessary to ensure that Texas youth are able to compete in today’s job market.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 May 2018