Fixing the budget deficit, whatever the final number ends up being, will be priority one for the 82nd legislative session. Every service the state government provides will be facing some potentially tough cuts. Linus Wright, former superintendent for Dallas ISD, thinks that cutting twelfth grade might be good consideration for cutting education spending:

“In a short interview with Dallas-based KERA, Wright said, the 12th grade has been a waste of money for years. All a student in the 12th has is one required course.

We need more early childhood education. because we need to get a kids at 3 and 4 years old, and eliminate the 12th grade to pay for that, Wright said.”

Cutting the twelfth grade is certainly a unique approach to trimming the K-12 budget. It seems unlikely that such a radical notion could get much traction, and it is debatable whether it should at all. While a high school student might be able to complete the majority of their requirements before senior year, many college bound students use that time to take AP courses for college credit. Taking it away would mean a greater number of students needing to take entry level courses at Texas universities, many of which are attempting to enact practices that ensure baccalaureate degrees are earned on a four year or quicker track.

Wright’s position on early childhood education, however, is the more problematic part of his position. The fact of the matter is that early childhood education is already almost entirely available in this state to those who want it, and aggressively increasing it, for example by making it mandatory, could cost Texas millions.

Linus Wright clearly recognizes that we have a spending problem in Texas education, and understands that reforms are necessary. His statements regarding twelfth grade might be outlandish to the point of (deliberate?) absurdity, but his pre-kindergarten ideas seem quite sincere, and they are not the solution to the education problems Texas has, fiscal or otherwise.

-James Golsan