That’s how much is needed per year to make public education whole.
Lynn Moak told state District Judge John Dietz that it will take more than $8 billion a year in additional money to get students on target to graduate and to meet new college and career readiness standards. About 150,000 9th-grade students, or 47 percent of last year’s freshman high school class, are not on track to graduate, according to the state’s more rigorous academic standards, Moak told the court.
“We are in a current crisis. The crisis gets worse in the future,” Moak said during a break in the hearing. “The crisis is sufficient now to demand action.”
Moak told Dietz it will take about $6 billion in additional money per year to adequately educate Texas students, on top of restoring $2.65 billion per year in education cuts that lawmakers made last year to help balance the budget.
“If we don’t see improvement, you will see even larger numbers of students at risk of not being able to graduate,” Moak told the judge, who said he planned to grill policy experts on both sides.
The new accountability standards are hitting low-income students the hardest. Only 40 percent of them have passed all of the 9th grade tests, which are required for high school graduation.
The number of low-income students increases each year and now makes up more than 60 percent of Texas’ 5 million K-12 public school enrollment. Low-income students generally cost more to educate because many arrive in kindergarten or first grade with less-developed vocabularies and other skills than children from middle- and upper-income families.
Republican legislators last year cut $4 billion from public education formulas and another $1.3 billion in special grants, such as full-day Pre K programs for low-income children and student success initiatives for tutoring and summer school programs to help struggling students.
Moak said he could not assess the impact on schools and students.
“I do not know of any significant legislative review to determine if these programs were not needed or were not producing good results,” he said.
Spending per student in Texas peaked at $7,415 in 2009, and has dropped to $6,293 in 2013, Moak said.
I don’t expect there to be any significant legislative review. I don’t think the authors of these cuts want to know what their effect was. The Statesman notes that while only 40 percent of low-income kids are passing the required tests, 69% of non-economically disadvantaged students are passing. You can expect that gap to grow.
All this came from direct testimony – the state had not had the chance to cross-examine Moak as of the writing of those stories – so there will likely be more of these depressing numbers to come. The Moak, Casey website is a pretty good resource for following the trial on a blow-by-blow basis. Here’s an interesting tidbit from their embedded Twitter feed: “Moak: from 10-11 to 11-12 school year, 26.5k fewer teachers and staff while Texas schools added 44.5k students #schoolfinancetrial #txlege”. With numbers like that, what happened next should not surprise us.