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« Texas Getting Under California's Skin. | WILLisms.com | Data Visualization: Tides Versus Koch »

Texas School Choice

Saturday at the Texas Capitol, the education anti-reform reform movement met on the South Steps to complain about innovative reform ideas and advocate for more spending and bureaucracy. I snapped some photos that can be found here. And here is a sampling of the kinds of people who were out to promote higher taxes and doubling down on the status quo:

Lots of "Occupy" and teacher union signs throughout the crowd.
Lots of socialists and socialist signs throughout the crowd, as well.
And class warfare.
And people openly advocating for higher taxes and/or an income tax in Texas.

As per the usual journalistic practice, the establishment media whitewashed these sentiments from their coverage of the rally (a rally which frankly felt a lot smaller and lower energy than the same rally in years past).

Earlier in the day, the Texas Public Policy Foundation held its own press conference on the other side of the Capitol, along with individuals from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Empower Texans, Americans For Prosperity - Texas, the American Federation for Children, the Waco Tea Party, and Texans for Parental Choice in Education, among others.

I set up my video camera and took some video of the event:

And lots of photos here.

A few good resources for education reform, some of which were mentioned in the press conference:

The Red Apple Project.

Protect the Classroom.

Texas Classrooms First.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts: "Your Money and Local Debt" and "Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST)"

And of course, the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Comptroller has some facts that-- again, per the usual journalistic practice of the day-- rarely make it into the public square. For example, here's what public school spending has done in Texas over the past decade or so:

K-12 schools alone receive about 43.7 percent of Texas’ general revenue, twice the share of Medicaid, which accounts for 21.6 percent of all general revenue appropriations.

Spending itself:


Expenditures versus enrollment:


Spending per pupil:


Spending per pupil versus inflation:


Meanwhile, over the past decade, both local property taxes and local debt have skyrocketed; Texas school districts’ spending on debt service has grown 160 percent, much faster than all other portions of school budgets.

Moreover, while school districts are constructing Taj Mahals, investing in bricks and bells and whistles rather than students and teachers and actual classroom instruction, they've also been busy hiring non-teaching staff and administrators at six-figure salaries. Only about half of public school employees are now teachers, and since 2004, the number of kids in public schools has increased 7%, while the number of non-teaching support and administrative personnel has risen 20%. Indeed, Texas has 17% more teachers than California, with 295 education employees per 10,000 people, compared to California’s 252.

Texas spends ample dollars on education. Our schools actually outperform schools in high-spending states in terms of reading scores, math scores, science scores, dropout rates, and so forth, but being better than horrible schools in the rest of the country doesn't mean our schools are good enough, or that they will be good enough for the future. It just means that the "Texas ranks 48th" in this or that spending category tripe is meaningless.

School reform, yes. Dumping more money into a bloated educracy and continually taking on more debt and perpetually jacking up property taxes, no.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 February 2013 10:28 AM