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A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006
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It's Time For School Choice In Texas!
VIDEO: Part 1 of 3.
Texas has some of the best public schools in the country. Some of the highest graduation rates in America. Some of the highest standardized test scores within each demographic cohort. Our outcome disparities-- sometimes people call those achievement gaps-- are smaller than in most states.
But Texas also has many hundreds of thousands of kids in hundreds of failing public schools. Nearly three out of every four Texas 8th grade students are not proficient in reading, and three out of five are not proficient in math. Texas faces shortages of skilled workers, even with all the many thousands of Californians and Illinoisans and New Yorkers moving here every year to work for tech firms and finance firms and so forth.
Texas universities openly bemoan having to provide remedial education in basic courses for far too many Texas high school graduates (this isn't exclusive to Texas, but still). Texas has some of the most robust non-teaching staff growth in recent years, plus some of the worst school debt in the country (nearly 120 billion dollars). Only half of our education employees actually interact with kids. We spend nearly 60 billion dollars every biennium just on K-12 education, and our skyrocketing property taxes reflect that.
What's more: even the best schools may not be right for every kid. Only a true educational marketplace, with a real diversity of supply, with real innovation, and with real choices, can accommodate the diverse demand of Texas kids.
While Texas has a lot to brag about, we also have plenty to be downright ashamed of, with regard to our education system. Being better than the rest of the country is nothing to write home about. And unless we want to tax ourselves out of our prosperity, we have to look at serious school finance reform ASAP. Seriously, we need to get this thing fixed as soon as possible, or we're suddenly going to be thought of as a high tax state-- or, at least, not a low tax haven.
School choice is coming to Texas. The sooner we all enbrace that, the better off we'll all be.
To that end, I am creating a video series, and today, I am releasing part one of that series, on the economics of school choice:
And if you're looking for more details on any of the numbers behind this video, I'll be posting more written content with linked sources in the coming days and weeks.
Thanks for watching, liking, commenting, sharing, subscribing, and otherwise engaging with this video!
TEASER: School Choice in Texas Video Series
A couple of weeks back, I promised a three-part video series on School Choice.
Well, I've been traveling and otherwise busier than anticipated with my day job, but part one is nearly ready to launch, so I wanted to offer a short teaser from it in the meantime.
Last month, the Franklin Center hosted a really great conference on the issue of school choice, and I met a lot of fantastic folks.
One of the attendees, Bob Weeks, from Wichita, Kansas, posted this great treasure trove of data on school staffing in each state over time.
If you play with the interactive visualization, you'll discover than Texas is quite the outlier in terms of administrator growth since 1998. Nearly all states have grown the ranks of their school administrators by between a cone of roughly 10 and 50%. A handful of states now have fewer administrators, and a small few have quite a lot more. The average for all states in 19%.
The growth of administrators in Texas: 453%.
Just a stunning situation. And not what you might expect from the low tax, limited government Lone Star State.
And that's what this particular snippet is about, administrator growth:
Texas has to do better than this. And we will have to do better than this, if we want to stay Texas, rather than becoming the next California.
Stay tuned for the rest of part one, which focuses on the economics of school choice, along with two other videos, focusing on the freedom and the results.
I'd love some feedback on this snippet, in the meantime!