FinancingTexas Public Education
Thefinancing of public schools is an important educational issue forboth the Federal Government and the State Government of Texas. As aneconomically active state, the government of Texas supports thepublic education sector financially and administratively despitefacing challenges in economic prosperity and growth. Among all othereconomic and social issues like health care, education, immigration,and social welfare, education continue to be a priority for the stateand federal government. It is the policy of both the government ofTexas and the federal government to finance public schools. Forinstance, in the year 2006-07, the state government financed highereducation by 16.9 Billion (Combs 1). However, the federal governmentconflicts with the state government in the amount and frequency ofdonations and financing.
Dueto economic challenges that affected financially, the government ofTexas has recently changed its public school financing policy. In2011, the Texas legislature made one of the most noted decisions whenit chose to reduce public school funding by 5.4 billion dollars. Thisreduction was accompanied by increased complexity of the stateassessments and accountability system under which the public schoolsand public school students had to operate (John and Murphy 147).Consequently, several school districts have faced financial distresssince there is increased enrollment in these institutions, whichmeans increased costs. In addition to the current educationalreality, that the amount of money given to each school district hasremained frozen after the 5.4 billion dollar cut, and enrollment hasincreased.
Accordingto John and Murphy (147), public school system in Texas had to managethis financial strain without adopting restraint measures likecutting off crucial educational programs and services for students.John and Murphy (147) further argue that public schools find itchallenging to meet their ever-increasing mandates with limitedresources.
Reasonsfor Initiating Change
Thereis a need for increased financing so as to get more equipped andskilled labor for the state of Texas. This means that if the currentcost of higher education remains constant, then most of the laborforce in Texas will be without a college diploma in the future (Combs1). This would be very dangerous for a state like Texas, which is onthe economic surge.
Texasneeds skilled labor to propel its development agendas and in thecoming future, this may go missing.John (146) arguesthat the current education system in Texas has been viewed as one,which threatens the state’s future economic viability. Enormousnumbers of young people are not completing high school, and evenfewer are graduating college. If this trend persists there may nolonger be any skilled work force in the state in the near future.This in turn would mean a population that lacks the education andskills needed to sustain growth and prosperity.
Moreover,the challenges in financing public education indicates a need forviable solutions to solve the menace that currently exists in theeducation system before educational standards in Texas deteriorate.This is because the educational needs are increasing each year andfinancial responsibilities for education will continue to rise.According to Combs (1), there were 4.6 million students enrolled inpublic schools in Texas in the last five years, which is a 20%increased in just a decade. At the same time, there has been a risingpopulation growth each year in Texas. It is a reality that thefinancial plan for public schools is under-funded and not surprisingthat the schools are experiencing distress as enrollment grows. Asolution that must be picked up to solve this is to increase thefunding of each school district based upon enrollment (Bessetteet al 69).
Amongthe alternative solutions explored to solve the situation is thecurrent multiple pathways curriculum that is practiced in the state.However, the disadvantage of this practice is the resultant negativeeffects on the students’ educational progress. Under the system,students are required to pass in English, Math, Social studies andScience before they can graduate. Consequently, this system limits astudent’s elective courses and drives many out of school once theyfind their courses not engaging. The only advantage is that itreduces the number of resources committed to courses or subjects thatsome students do not take.
Anotheralternative when it comes to higher education in Texas is tuitionderegulation. This is done by allowing the governing boards of publicuniversities to set their own tuition rates in order to meet thechallenges of rising operating costs. This was done by passing a billto that effect after the decision by the Texas legislature to reducethe funding of public schools. The advantage of this alternative isto allow educational operations despite the restricted public fundingfrom the government. However, the alternative has a disadvantage ofleading to an increase in the total cost education in publicuniversities.
Theother alternative to the problem of financing public education inTexas is increasing the student grants to enable parents and studentsto at least keep up with these rising costs. The advantage of thisalternative is assisting individual students to finance educationthemselves. It is a way of directly addressing the costs that parentsare incurred before they can get their children to attain degreecourses have increased and should be addressed (Randolph106).This cost is reduced directly from the burden of students by reducingtuition fees,
However,the main disadvantage is that grants increase the financial burden ofthe federal and state governments, which is already high. Therefore,the public financial limitations have negative affects both parentsand students who are now forced to pay for education from their ownfinances (Combs 1). Therefore, those who cannot afford the same arenow forced to watch their children result in manual jobs, whichrequire no advanced level of education. (Bessetteet al 189).
RecommendedCourse of Action
Anappropriate alternative to implement is to embrace tuitionderegulation policies where the state will regulate tuition fees andintroduce a standard fees. This will be an amount that will befriendly for the public to afford an undergraduate degree. Therefore,this will be done by state laws that will be geared at getting backto regulating tuition. The main advantage with option is that it willensure school boards do not extort money from students for extragains. In addition, the option has an advantage of improving thewelfare of the students by providing cheaper tuition.
Inaddition to financing, the state should intervene in bridging theeducation system in Texas in terms of quality. This is because schoolfunding alone does not improve the quality of education (Combs 1).Overpopulation of the classrooms and no funding to expand schools orbuild new facilities will continue to be a problem. Withoutadditional government and state funding as well as other reforms,eventually the status quo does come back and this calls for long termsolutions which can completely alter the education system in Texasfor the better. There is also need for the community as a whole totake responsibility in meeting these challenges with well thoughtsolutions rather than always depending on the government.
Moreover,there should be systems put in place to ensure increased pathways tograduation.Aubrey (88) arguesthat the requirement that students should reach cumulative passingscores in every core subject at the end of course exams is somethingthat also needs to be reviewed. Such a requirement limits the scopeof careers for students and this is not something desirable. Theprimary education system is not the only one facing difficulty. Withthe rising number of students attending colleges, there is a need toincrease alternatives that will allow affordability of highereducation for students in public educational institutions.
Randolph,Campbell.Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State.New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print
Aubrey,J. Douglass. TheCalifornia Idea and American Higher Education: 1850 to the 1960Master Plan.Bloomington: Stanford University Press, 2007. Print
John,Eddy and Murphy, Stanley.International Higher Education Systems.Washington D.C: University Press of America, 2000. Print
Bessette,Joseph, et al. AmericanGovernment and Politics: Texas Edition: Deliberation, Democracy andCitizenship, Texas Edition.Texas: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print
Combs,Susan. Education:HigherEducation.Web, Accessed, May 13, 2014.<http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/tif/higher.html>