Letter to the Editor re: “Perry praises Texas school funding as 'phenomenal'”

Letter to the Editor

Re: “Perry praises Texas school funding as 'phenomenal'” , Fort Worth Star Telegram - January 9, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry recently described the growth in public education spending over the last decade as “phenomenal.” Gov. Perry is right. Data from the Comptroller of Public Accounts show that the state spent $8,782 per student in the 2001-02 school year, compared to $11,218 in the 2010-11 school year. That’s a 28 percent increase per student. Comptroller data also show that this increase is over and above the rate of inflation during the same period.

As Governor Perry made clear, Texas lawmakers have established public education as the state’s top spending priority, accounting for 42 percent of the 2012-13 state general revenue budget, compared to 28 percent for all health and human services programs, and 15 percent for higher education.

Furthermore, schools are increasingly missing the mark by devoting outsized resources to extravagant football stadiums and other abuses of public resources and trust. Another report released last year by the Comptroller points out that the amount of debt issued by school districts to fund these types of projects now stands at more than $63 billion dollars. That’s $13,530 for every child in public school in the state. As a result, debt service payments are now the fastest-growing spending category in public education over the past decade.

Underlying the Governor’s correct assertion about public education funding is this truth: increased resources do not cause improved educational outcomes. Schools must be charged with making better use of the ample funding they receive. While some schools are exemplary fiscal stewards, too many of them fail to produce results while consuming higher amounts of taxpayer dollars than their more academically successful counterparts.

Tom Aldred
Director of Policy & Research
Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute