Texas Earns an F for Education Spending—No Wonder the Public Says No to Cuts

The 2011 Quality Counts survey, from the research center associated with Education Week magazine, grades states on the caliber of their commitment to educational quality. The Texas report card this year is enough to hurt a Texan’s pride.

Overall, by the charitable estimate of the Education Week researchers, Texas scores a lowly C+, made possible by high ratings on standards, accountability measures, and alignment of standards and measures from preschool to college. In other words, we have done a pretty good job of setting goals for ourselves, at least in comparison with other states.

But Texas falls down when it comes to backing up those high goals with the resources needed to help all our students achieve them. The Quality Counts survey gives Texas a grade of F for education spending, based on an analysis of several factors:  per-pupil expenditures, adjusted for regional variations in cost; the proportion of students in districts spending at or above the U.S. average, adjusted for regional cost differences and student needs; and the proportion of the state’s total taxable resources spent on K-12 education.

State leaders may not be willing to admit it, but the public gets it. Despite the drumbeat for budget cuts at the capitol, and despite the severe economic distress caused by the worst recession in 80 years, the vast majority of Texans—some 70 percent—say they want no cuts at all in public education. (The source for that finding: an independent poll conducted for the state’s major newspapers and released on January 9.)