Estimates indicate that funding for this year’s Texas budget fell short by $4.6 billion. When lawmakers convene in January, they will have to decide how to address that shortfall and at the same time how to fund the state’s education system and other public services for the next two years.
Funding for public schools and colleges makes up over half of the state budget at about 55%. That makes it a target for cuts when the economy takes a downturn. But we know that cutting education only hurts us. That is why IDRA supports the state maintaining equitable investments
in school funding this legislative session.
Where We Stand for the Upcoming Texas Legislative Session
Texas lawmakers must maintain equity in the education budget and school finance system. This means the following.
Fund public schools based on the promises of House Bill 3 made during the last session.
Avoid cuts to education by leveraging existing and new sources of state revenue.
Work with the federal government for additional, supplemental stimulus money to go to schools.
Prioritize funds for the education programs that serve students most impacted by the pandemic and historically marginalized in schools: emergent bilingual students (English learners), students receiving special education services, and students from low-income households.
Why We Need to Maintain Equity in the School Funding System
Most students in public schools come from low-income households (60%). Latino students make up the majority of public school students (53%), and over one in five students is an emergent bilingual student. More than half a million students receive special education services.
School programs that focus on these students have suffered cuts before. This creates inequitable outcomes for students in academic achievement, high school dropout and graduation rates
, and college-going rates. State funding for education really does mean investing in our students’ future – and our state’s future.
If Texas policymakers choose to cut or divert funds from education and not maintain equity in school funding, we will face widening learning gaps among students of color, emergent bilinguals, and low-income students due to COVID-19, more severe teacher shortages in critical subject areas and others, and declining college enrollment and graduation rates.
Texas cannot afford to place our economic troubles on the backs of school students for the next decade like we did in 2011. Maintaining equity will protect funding for students from families with limited incomes, emergent bilingual students, students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, and others who most need resources in their schools.