Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Per Student Spending Decreases In Texas

Two articles today about per student spending decreasing in Texas public schools: School funding falling behind and Study: Texas' spending on students drops. This is based on an NEA report that shows actual spending per student- not adjusted for inflation or anything like that - has decreased in Texas over the last year (2004 - $7,214, 2005 - $7,142). Moving our state down from 36th to 40th in per student funding.
Texas Supreme Court justices may think the state spends enough on public schools, but a new national comparison shows that Texas was the only state that decreased average spending per student last year and has slipped to 40th among the states.
It's not just the students, of course, but the teachers aren't fairing well either:
Teachers' salaries took a slight hit as Texas dropped one spot to 33rd among the states, with an average salary of $41,009. That figure was nearly $6,800 below the national average.
Here's what the NEA had to say:
"The Texas Supreme Court just warned the Legislature that we are 'drifting toward constitutional inadequacy,' and this new data indicates that our state education investments may have already failed to make the grade and slipped into that category," said Donna New Haschke, president of the NEA's state affiliate, the Texas State Teachers Association.
What does the governor's office have to say about this? Why they attack the messenger, of course.
The governor's press secretary, Kathy Walt, questioned the accuracy of the NEA figures Monday, saying they don't reflect the small funding increase that the Legislature approved for public schools for the 2004-05 school year.

"We think their numbers are wrong," Ms. Walt said, suggesting that the education association may have relied on preliminary figures for Texas and other states instead of obtaining final numbers for its analysis.

"Texas put more money into the system last year. If that money didn't make it into classrooms, then a lot of parents are going to have questions about why it didn't," she said.
Really? It was also nice of Ms. Walt to slip in a plug for the "65% Ruse" in that last paragraph, "If that money didn't make it into classrooms..". Then check out the next paragraph:
Mr. Perry has cited statistics from the annual NEA survey in the past to support his claim that education spending in Texas has been more than adequate.

But his use of the data last year included some creative computing by his aides that added school construction bond payments and teacher pension contributions to the actual operating expenditures of schools cited in the NEA study.
In other words the governor doesn't mind quoting and using the NEA when it favors him and trashing them when it doesn't. Not to worry Texas teachers the Texas Public Policy Foundation has got your back:
Chris Patterson, research director for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said higher spending doesn't always result in better student achievement.

"There's a lot of evidence that more money, higher spending in public schools, even higher teacher salaries does not correlate with better instruction," said Patterson.

The foundation, which supports free markets and limited government, last month released an extensive study on teacher salaries. The report said when adjusted for cost of living, the state's average pay "looks almost right."
I thought almost only counted in horseshoes and hand grenades? OK NEA, wrap it up:
Ms. Haschke said educators are concerned that "if the politicians opt for a quick fix in next spring's special session instead of developing a responsible plan, things will be even worse next year."
As are the people of Texas.

Just a side not on this Star-Telegram editorial, Say what? This editorial smacks down the Wall Street Journal for saying the Supreme Court endorsed vouchers in it's school finance decision.
Then the Journal blew it by writing: "Even more encouraging, the court endorsed more choices for parents and the state's 4.3 million school kids. It said flatly: 'Public education could benefit from more competition.' "

That's not what the court said -- not flatly or roundaboutly.
What the justices meant by their statements will be judged by history and coming precedent, I'm sure. But the last paragraph of the editorial leaves whoever wrote this looking a pretty naive:
The real puzzle here is why The Wall Street Journal's editorial writers missed or ignored the part where the court justices said that "we do not address it."
It's pretty simple actually. It's a right-wing mouthpiece and their goal is to gut public schools. See the "65% Rule".

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