Texas' Regional Education Service Centers Need Greater Spending Transparency

February 13, 2014

Texas' Regional Education Service Centers need much stronger transparency measures, says James Golsan, an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

  • In 1967, the Texas state legislature established the Regional Education Service Center (RESC) network.
  • These RESCs were intended to assist schools in improving student performance, help schools to operate more efficiently, and to implement any other state educational initiatives.
  • Over the last four decades, these RESCs have developed into a large network and provide a number of functions within the education system, largely independent from the Texas Education Agency.

RESCs lack transparency, making it difficult for Texas residents to determine how exactly taxpayer funds are being spent. RESCs are funded by local, state and federal sources.

  • More than 48 percent comes from federal grants, 33.7 percent from local contracts with school districts, and 19.5 percent from the state of Texas.
  • RESC spending also varies from region to region, as some regions serve massive amounts of students, while others are much smaller.

Region 12, which has 156,002 students, spends an average of $8,911 per student each year. The RESC website for the region describes itself as providing curriculum, instructional and technology support as well as coordinating federal programs. There is little information available, however, as to how much spending goes toward each program and exactly who is using them.

RESCs have also generated controversy with regard to curriculum. Specifically, RESCs developed CSCOPE, a curriculum development that gained widespread attention when the content of its lesson plans was revealed, including one plan that depicted the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism. Besides content problems, the program also lacked transparency and many lesson plans in the early years of CSCOPE were not made available to the public at all.

By strengthening transparency -- not just in showing where funds are spent, but in imposing stricter requirements for RESC reporting to the Texas Education Agency -- the state can impose some needed oversight.

Source: James Golsan, "Regional Education Service Center Spending: A Need for Clarity," Texas Public Policy Foundation, January 2014.

 

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