M-O-N-E-Y: HOW SCHOOLS SPELL EDUCATION REFORM
July 26, 2005
The Texas legislature recently concluded another special session without a fix to the state's school finance system. Who's to blame? The public school lobby, according to John Colyandro (Texas Conservative Coalition) and Chris Patterson (Texas Public Policy Foundation).
Government employees derailed every serious attempt to provide property tax relief and improve public schools, they say. Money is the motive and legislators simply aren't coughing up enough, according to the Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT) and the Equity Center.
The facts, however, say differently. In the latest version of school finance reform:
- Every teacher gets a pay raise of $1,500 this year.
- Overall average teacher pay increases an additional $500, with this money going to the best teachers -- an amount that will increase another $500 in 2006-07.
- Teachers at campuses with high percentages of economically disadvantaged and at-risk students have the opportunity to earn up to $3,000 more as incentive bonuses.
- Teachers will benefit from property tax relief just like every other homeowner.
Claims that schools are flat broke also ring hollow:
- In the 2004-2005 state budget, legislators dedicated 58.4 percent of all general revenue dollars to Texas public and higher education.
- In fact, appropriations for public education increased $1.19 billion over the previous biennium.
- Currently, Texas ranks 3rd in the nation for the percentage of total state expenditures devoted to public education.
- Public school teachers have pocketed an average salary increase of nearly $9,300 since 1999, according to the Governor's Office.
- Additionally, qualified teachers earn a $5,000 bonus from the Master Teacher Program that Governor Perry helped create in the fields of reading, math and science.
Source: John Colyandro and Chris Patterson, "M-O-N-E-Y: How Schools Spell Education Reform," Texas Public Policy Foundation, July 22, 2005.
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