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Children continue to be our future

The mother of all school finance lawsuits, which commenced on Monday, will take many weeks to conclude. I don’t expect to follow it every day since there’s just so much else going on, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from the Chron story of the trial’s opening day.

Dr. Steve Murdock

By 2050, Texas will be home for 12 million non-Hispanic whites and 31 million Hispanics, Murdock said. Hispanic children will make up nearly two-thirds of the state’s public school enrollment while the percentage of white children, now about 30 percent, will have dropped to 15.5 percent, said [Steve] Murdock, Texas’ first official state demographer.

[…]

About 8 percent of Texas’ non-Hispanic whites have less than a high school education compared with 40.4 percent among Hispanics, Murdock said.

Education remains the best single indicator for economic success, he emphasized. In 2010, one of every 10 Texas whites lived in poverty compared with more than one in 4 among Hispanics, Murdock said.

The state’s future depends on Hispanics since they will make up most of the population growth in the coming decades, he said.

“Their need is our need in the sense that how well minority population groups do in Texas is how well Texas will do,” Murdock said.

Murdock has been singing this song for well over a decade now, but especially in the last legislative session it was clear that no one who had any power to do something about it was paying attention. Here’s an interview I did with Dr. Murdock last year – if you ever get the chance to talk to him or to hear him speak, I highly recommend it – and you can browse my archives for more of his greatest hits. I feel certain that someday there will be broad consensus that he was right all along. i just hope it isn’t too late to do something about it by then.

White non-Hispanic children made up 75 percent of Humble ISD’s school enrollment 12 years ago. Today, white children are a minority at 46 percent and the percentage of low-income children has increased from 15.9 percent to 35 percent.

“Virtually everything (Murdock’s) data showed is the experience we have had in our community,” Humble ISD Superintendent Guy Sconzo said.

[…]

Humble ISD taxpayers approved a maximum school operations tax rate of $1.17 for the 2008-09 school year that generated an extra $17.9 million per year – but the district then lost $24.2 million when state lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

“In one fell swoop that (local tax) revenue went away,” Sconzo said.

As the Trib noted in its look back at a decade of Republican control of Texas, the GOP has largely attempted to control costs in the state budget by pushing them down to the local level. Sconzo’s words attest to that reality. I keep thinking that a day of reckoning will come when places like Humble to which people fled in order to have access to better schools for their kids can no longer provide the kind of education experience these people expected. It hasn’t happened yet on a wide scale, though there have been isolated victories and there are signs this year of it as some Republicans who voted for the vicious cuts to public education now try to run away from them, but I still believe it’s inevitable, and that the 2013 legislative session may hasten it for 2014. Put simply, the course we’re on is unsustainable. Something has to give.

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