It is incomprehensible to imagine how the state’s treasury is finally flowing with cash and still expanding, and yet the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, white hat and boots gleaming, swaggers in, bellies up to the bar, and spews his trademark vitriol for education. His conclusion: "Spending growth on public schools in recent years in Texas has been pretty phenomenal.”
Despite the severe cuts averaging more than $500 per pupil last session resulting in the unprecedented loss of $5.4 billion for Texas public schools, Perry conveniently ignored not just the harsh 2011 cuts but also the state’s failure to keep up with the rising cost of educating a rapidly growing student population in Texas. He also ignored the costs of meeting rising state academic requirements for graduation which will come at a considerable cost.
Reality check on the governor’s claim of “phenomenal” state effort in public education: consider the 2012 Quality Counts Survey by researchers at Education Week magazine. They gave Texas an F for the second year in a row for the state’s weak school spending and their study did not even take into account the impact of the devastating cuts that were passed in 2011. According to the Quality Counts researchers, even before those cuts, Texas already ranked 49th in the nation in spending per pupil, after adjusting for regional cost variations. Teacher pay in Texas consistently ranks in the bottom 10% nation-wide. We must all have our priorities. Too bad for Texas that we do not hold education in high esteem.
So if anything is "phenomenal" about education spending in Texas, it is the phenomenal denial, ignorance, and lack of vision our leaders have when allocating funds to schools. Perry became a popular target for ridicule when he made his ill-fated attempt to win the GOP presidential nomination. Imagine what he would have done to education in America if he had made it to the oval office. Nobody will be laughing a few years down the road if there is not a significant change in the way we finance schools. But then again, if the masses are illiterate, how will they complain?