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More cuts, fewer teachers

We knew this was what had happened, and now we have the numbers.

New data from the Texas Education Agency illustrate what school officials have decried for months: Their staffs are stretched thin following the unprecedented state budget cuts that took effect this school year.

Statewide, districts eliminated roughly 25,000 positions, including more than 10,700 teaching jobs. Overall, districts cut their workforce by 4 percent – through attrition and, in some cases, layoffs – since last school year.

“I’m hoping the Legislature will see there’s hard data showing that, yes, districts are making some good decisions in terms of efficiencies,” said Bob Sanborn, president of Children at Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit that analyzed the state figures. “But the Legislature should be very worried that in the haste to be more efficient we are cutting our future out from under us.”

Remember that the cuts from the 2011 budget are somewhat backloaded for the second year of the biennium, so there’s more of this to come. This is why HISD is grappling with its budget again, and is considering a property tax rate hike as one option to close another multi-million dollar shortfall. Don’t like that idea, or the other things they’re considering? Blame Rick Perry and the Legislature for putting them in that position. And yes, it could have been so much worse.

Texas lawmakers, agreeing with Gov. Rick Perry’s no-tax-hike pledge to balance the budget, cut per-student funding to public education by $5.4 billion over the biennium, which includes the current school year and next year.

“The cuts weren’t as bad as they could have been,” said Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, who chairs the House Education Committee.

One House proposal would have reduced school funding by $10 billion, costing an estimated 100,000 jobs.

The budget the House passed would have $7.8 billion from public education. Every House Republican voted for that budget. The economic news in Texas is getting better, but we’re going to keep getting more of the same from the Lege for as long as we have the same Lege.

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7 Comments

  1. […] Tip to Kuff on this and as he points out, there’s more bad news to come. Remember that the cuts from the 2011 budget are somewhat backloaded for the second year of the biennium, so there’s more of this to come. This is why HISD is grappling with its budget again, and is considering a property tax rate hike as one option to close another multi-million dollar shortfall. Don’t like that idea, or the other things they’re considering? Blame Rick Perry and the Legislature for putting them in that position. And yes, it could have been so much worse. […]

  2. JJ says:

    http://fastexas.org/pdf/FASTp1execSummary.pdf

    See exhibit 4. Seems hard to believe that Texas could spend any more on education than we already do. The growth in spending over the last ten years is huge. Huge. Hard to believe there isn’t some room to cut back, spend more efficiently.

  3. And yet most states do spend more per student, with better results to show for it. Funny how that works.

  4. Jj says:

    Sorry I disagree with how you think things work.

    First off, it appears that most states do not in fact spend more than Texas.  See NEA study, table F-6 where Texas is just above the national per pupil average per $1000 of resident income.  The NEA says that is a more accurate measure of how much a state supports its educatiob system. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/HE/NEA_Rankings_and_Estimates010711.pdf

    Second, the Texas study I posted before shows that over the 10 years through 2009, we have increased spending by 95% from $28 billion to $56 billion, while enrollment only increased 20%.  Readers of this blog might be surprised at that since the state political leadership all 10 years has been Republican in the guv, lt gov, senate and house. 

    Third, as for your claim that those “most” states who spend more also get better results. Well, I grabbed the first ranking I saw on a Google search, US News’, and Texas is ranking 14 (that surprised me) with plenty of lower spending states like California and Connecticut having higher rankings and higher spending states like Wyoming and Alabama having lower rankings. 

    Conclusion: I think you are just repeating Dem party talking points on education that don’t have much in the way to back them up. 1) we need to spend more, 2) Republicans have kept spending way too low because they are mean and selfish and don’t care about the general public (while Dems, of course, do care deeply and sincerely) and 3) spending more will get better results, ipso facto. 

    All that sounded too simple to me, so I dug around and have reached the opposite conclusions. 

  5. What you’re not addressing is that the state’s own data shows that there is a huge disparity in the amount the state allocates from one school district to the next. Some districts receive over $12,000 per student, some receive less than $4000 per student – see http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2011/05/school-funding-litigation-gop-senator-offers-opening-statement-2/ for the list, which was pointed out on the Senate floor by Republican Sen. Bob Deuell. Further, the state’s own data shows that there’s a clear correlation between how much a school district receives per student and how well that district does in the TEA rankings – see http://www.chron.com/news/kilday-hart/article/Kilday-Hart-School-funding-remains-inequitable-2741230.php for that documentation. You would think, then, that if there must be cuts to public education that they should be done in proportion to how much a given district received as of last year, but that’s not what the Republicans chose to do – they cut everyone by the same percentage. What do you think the result of that is going to be? Finally, the legislature has also spent the past decade increasing accountability standards for schools and graduation requirements for students. What do you call it when one government entity mandates that another do something, then doesn’t provide adequate funding to meet those requirements?

  6. matx says:

    See Figure 4 about what the state of Texas spends per pupil:
    http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/09f33pub.pdf

    Maybe spending has dramatically increased since 2008-09 in Texas so we’re no longer in the bottom 20%. I did a google search, too, and just grabbed the first item from the search.

    Embracing new technologies and trying to meet standards of NCLB probably come with costs that don’t really improve student performance, yet come with steep price tags. Is that factored into the dramatic rise in spending? Is the trend nationwide, or just in Texas?

  7. PrdTeacher says:

    Anyone can point out numbers and data tables. From a teaching standpoint, there are a multitude of factors that must be taken into account that don’t show up on some bureaucratic spreadsheet. Class sizes are increasing, student misbehaviors are increasing/changing, state requirements of teachers are getting more and more rigorous, spending cuts affect some school districts more than others due to demographics, student learning is becoming more advanced and diverse, and many other issues are what the teachers face every day. In my district and the surrounding areas teachers had very little if any say about where budget cuts took place and yet we are the ones responsible for ensuring students pass state mandated test and are college ready.

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