Over the weekend, James Quintero, director of the Center for Local Governance, wrote about the false narrative emerging in Austin “that public schools are underfunded and the state is to blame.”
Many today, in alignment with various education associations, assert that public education suffers from a lack of resources. But the data tells a different story.
“In the 2015-16 school year alone, Texas school districts spent a total of $64.8 billion on 5.3 million schoolchildren. That level of expenditure has grown by more than $20 billion over the last 10 years despite only a modest increase in student enrollment.”
So where’s all the money going? A big chunk of it is going to debt and administration.
Texas public schools spent 11 cents of every dollar on debt payments. Just 10 years ago, that figure was 8 cents from every dollar. And, of course, not all of that debt is being directed toward needs, as illustrated by several $60 million dollar-plus high school stadiums.
Additionally, while the Texas student population grew by 48 percent from 1993 to 2015, non- teaching staff positions grew by 66 percent. Had the latter rate been equal to the student increase rate, public schools (or taxpayers) would have an additional $2.2 billion per year.
Quintero concludes by supposing that the $12,250 that the state attaches to each student every year could be better utilized by allowing parents and students the choice in exactly where that money goes. This would create a competition among schools that would lead to greater efficiency and better outcomes for students.