In the follow-up to The Lost Decade, this week our union and Every Texan have released another report, Fully Funded, Fully Respected: The Path to Thriving Texas Public Schools, in which we put a price tag on a different future: one in which lawmakers prioritize respect for public schools and their employees and one in which we work together to build a public education system that helps Texas children thrive.
The report is split into three sections:
- Investments, what we know our schools need, as stated in the Texas AFT Respect Agenda
- New Revenue, how we pay for the Respect Agenda
- The Cost of Privatization, new costs proposed by legislators that harm public education
The state spends roughly $3,314 less per student than the national average each year. That adds up to about $18 billion less spent on Texas public schools than elsewhere in the United States. $18 billion is a substantial sum, but not when looking at the state’s budget as a whole, which sits at a record $188.2 billion for the upcoming biennium (the two-year budget period between legislative sessions).
The state of Texas has never fully funded our public schools, yet lawmakers are now considering private school voucher schemes that would cost an estimated $2,689,500,000 per year (but could cost substantially more). That money should go to hiring teachers, nurses, social workers, school counselors and others. That money also should go to providing raises to school employees in order to retain those professionals. The state can’t afford to fund a private education system, when it is not fully funding public schools.
The Texas budget is a reflection of our state’s priorities. The state must prioritize funding our public schools.