You may have noticed that Gov. Rick Perry did a round of interviews with Texas news reporters this week, apparently in an effort to keep anyone from applying the “lame duck” tag to a governor whose educational “policies” would be lame if they weren’t so harmful.
His main educational “policy,” if you want to call it that, has been to slash and burn public education, beginning in 2006 and then to an even greater degree last year. Yet, Perry continues to insist that Texas is spending plenty on our public schools.
“We’re still spending approximately $10,000 per student in Texas,” he claimed.
Actually, Texas spent $9,446 per student in 201011, according to new state education rankings from the National Education Association (NEA). And, NEA estimated, that amount plummeted to $8,908 per student (a decrease of $538) during the current 201112 school year, which absorbed the initial impact of $5.4 billion in education cuts approved by Perry and the legislative majority last spring.
These figures are based on average daily attendance (ADA), the standard by which school districts receive state aid. The national average for ADA expenditures for 201011 was $11,305. Texas ranked 41st among the states then and is probably even lower now, because while Texas’ average was dropping, the national average was rising to $11,463 for 201112. Texas is now more than $2,500 per student below the national average in ADA spending.
If you calculate the per student expenditures on enrollment, Texas fares even more poorly. On that basis, Texas spent $8,751 per student in 201011, ranking 42nd. The national average was $10,770. And, according to NEA, Texas’ per enrollee expenditure dropped to $8,265 (a $486 decrease) in 201112. The national average, meanwhile, rose to $10,976.
Guess what, folks? Those expenditures, either way you calculate them, are going to drop even more for 201213, unless the governor and the legislative majority heed TSTA’s call to stop the bleeding now. There is more than $7 billion of taxpayers’ money sitting in the bank in the Rainy Day Fund, doing nobody any good. It is time for the governor to call the Legislature into special session and spend $2.5 billion of that amount to restore the budget cuts for 201213. The economy is improving, and the fund will continue to replenish itself, leaving enough money for other state emergencies.
Perry, who hints at another reelection race in 2014 or even another presidential campaign in 2016, apparently feels the need to rehabilitate his political reputation following his recent, embarrassing presidential stumblethon. He should start by repairing some of the damage he has inflicted on our schools.
Tell the governor to stop the bleeding and restore the education cuts now by signing TSTA’s petition. You can find it by clicking on this link: