The Texas legislature's decision to cut $5.4 billion from the public education budget three years ago had some rather predictable consequences: fewer teachers, larger class sizes and a sizable drop in the telling funding-per-pupil metric. Texas promptly dropped to 49th on the latter metric among states and Washington, D.C.
This past legislative session restored some $3.4 billion to public schools, which lawyers for the state touted as proof that Texas' school finance system is not in fact broken and shouldn't be interfered with by the courts.
Whether Austin District Judge William Dietz buys that argument will become clear in May, when he's expected to rule in an enormous school-finance lawsuit. For now, we can only marvel at the gains the legislature's partial funding restoration has brought about.
No longer is Texas 49th in per-pupil education funding. With $8,998 spent per student, it is now 46th, according to an annual ranking recently published by the National Education Association, increasing its lead on cellar-dwelling Arizona and Nevada and surging ahead of public-education powerhouses North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah.
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Granted, that's still less than the national average of $11,674 and the $9,446 it was spending before 2011's draconian cuts, but money isn't everything. Besides: progress.
(h/t The Dallas Morning News)
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.