NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

TEXAS SCHOOL FINANCE NEEDS REFORMING

July 7, 2005

Does Texas spend enough on its schools' Many people sincerely believe the answer is no. But years of study by competent academic researchers suggests that the burden of proof is on those who want to spend more, says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

We could spend millions more on classroom instruction, including raises for our best teachers and bonuses to draw burnt-out, dropped-out teachers back into the classroom. All we have to do is reorder our priorities, says Goodman.

  • Harvard University education expert Carolyn Hoxby estimates that teacher-oriented schools should spend no more than 25 percent of their non-facilities budget outside the classroom.
  • In Texas, the average district spends 41 percent outside the classroom -- much of it on bloated bureaucracies -- with some schools reaching as high as 69 percent.

There is other evidence that the schools are far from needy. Just in case you were thinking the schools have too little money to spend, the Houston Chronicle has identified 20 high school "gridiron cathedrals," complete with such extras as luxury suites and instant replay scoreboards.

Then there is the problem of inefficient use of resources, even when they are concentrated on the classrooms. Study after study, has found there is no relationship between what we spend and what we get. In fact, there is no relationship between any input (class size, days of instruction, etc.) and any output, says Goodman.

To put this finding in perspective, note that for there to be no relationship between inputs and outputs, you can't be just a little bit inefficient. You have to be hugely inefficient. And given so much inefficiency, it would appear that there is ample room for achieving more with the dollars we have, says Goodman.

Source: John C. Goodman, "Reformation in three Steps," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 6, 2005.

 

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