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Public education in Texas

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K-12 Education in Texas
State Superintendent: Michael Williams
Number of students: 5,000,470[1]
Number of teachers: 324,282
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:15.4
Number of school districts: 1,262
Number of schools: 8,697
Graduation rate: 88%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $8,671[3]
See also
Public education in Texas
Texas Department of Education
Texas school districts
List of school districts in Texas
The Texas school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Texas has 840 school districts.

The Texas state constitution requires that the state offer not only a free public school system but also to provide a "general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people."[4] Essentially, state public education should provide the resources to prepare children to participate in the "social, economic, and educational opportunities of (the) state and nation."[5]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Texas state budget
Texas' education costs are about 44.4% of the state budget

The state of Texas has a $167.8 billion budget for the 2008-2009 biennium. Education accounted for approximately $75 billion or 44.4% of the total budget. State funding for the 2008-09 biennium increased by approximately $13 billion. In recent years, the Texas school system saw the largest monetary increase between the 2006-07 and 2008-09 bienniums, approximately $15.3 billion.[6]

In addition to state funding, Texas approved of 45 new school bonds to help fund education in public schools.

The cost per pupil is $8,320, ranking 43rd in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[7]

Stimulus funds

On July 1, 2009, Gov. Rick Perry formally applied for $4 billion federal education stimulus funds. Currently the state of Texas is expected to receive a total of $16 billion in federal stimulus dollars, of which education is set to receive $3.25 billion. This, said officials, will give school districts about a 2 percent increase in funding. Included in the governor's request is $338 million for higher education and about $400 million for education services.[8]

A recent audit released by the TEA revealed that the stimulus funds have been accurately reported. Amont these inaccuracies are: the number of full-time employees in quarterly reports, the number of jobs created/retained, payment fo vendors (exceeding $25,000), the total cost of infrastructure projects, or tracking the "Buy American" provision.[9]

AG sues for federal funding

The State Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit in the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying that the U.S. Department of Education was wrong to reject the state's application for funding for $830 million.[10] Past applications due to a Texas law which would require the school system to agree to maintain its spending through 2013.

Personnel salaries

Below is a chart comparison for the years 2000 to 2009 of the minimum salary for Texas's classroom teachers, full-time librarians, full-time counselors, and full-time school nurses. Specifically the chart addresses salaries for personnel with 0, 5 and 10 years experience. Annual salaries are based on a 10 month contract (2 months ommitted for summer break).[11]

School Year Annual Salary (0 yrs) Annual Salary (5 yrs) Annual Salary (10 yrs)
2008-09 $27,320[12] $31,560[12] $37,040[12]
2007-08 $27,320[13] $31,560[13] $37,040[13]
2006-07 $27,320[14] $31,560[14] $37,040[14]
2005-06 $24,820[15] $29,060[15] $34,540[15]
2004-05 $24,240[16] $28,380[16] $33,730[16]
2003-04 $24,240[17] $28,380[17] $33,730[17]
2002-03 $24,240[18] $28,380[18] $33,730[18]
2001-02 $24,240[19] $28,380[19] $33,730[19]
2000-01 $24,240[20] $28,380[20] $33,730[20]

Textbook costs

In late June 2009 Gov. Perry signed House Bill 4294 into law; a bill that gives state public schools more freedom regarding textbook funds.

The bill was authored by Rep. Dan Branch and strongly supported by education organizations, such as the Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards, Texas Business & Education Coalition and the Texas Computer Education Association. H.B. 4294 essentially gives school districts the ability to choose to continue to rely solely on printed textbooks or split the money between textbooks and electronic complements.[21]

Banned books

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed public records requests 1,268 school districts asking for the list of books challenged or banned by the school, with 75 percent responding to the requests.[22] Some of the banned books included: Forever and Then Again, Maybe I Won't, by Judy Blume, Cecily von Ziegesar's Would I Lie to You: A Gossip Girl Novel, Flowers for Algernon, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Kite Runner.[23]

Role of unions

  • In June 2009, the Houston Federation of Teachers argued that teacher pay raises for the 2009-2010 school year were too low. According to the Houston union, teachers should have received a 7.2 percent increase but the approved $1.6 billion spending budget provides a range of 1.6 percent to 4.8 percent increase. Despite the poor economic stance of the state, all teachers will receive pay raises due to a state mandate that requires at least an $800 increase. Union President Gayle Fallon said, "We are more than prepared to take legal action to keep (Houston Independent School District) from circumventing the intent of the Legislature on the teacher pay raise. It is unconscionable to cheat the people who have been loyal to this district for almost 30 years out of thousands of dollars that the Legislature intended for them to receive.”[24]
  • In 2009, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dan Patrick to loosen the cap on charter schools and increase the state's right to close struggling charter schools failed to pass. The Texas State Teachers Association chose not to support the legislation because of the lack of higher achievement levels in Texas charters. "The standards appear to be fairly low for accountability," said Joe Bean, spokesperson for the association.[25]

Role of school boards

State Board of Education members can be appointed or elected but cannot serve more than 6 years in office. It is comprised of 14 elected positions and 1 governor-appointed position.[26] The state board governs the state's education system as a whole, but each district has its own school board or board of trustees.

In independent school districts the board of trustees has the power to govern and oversee the management of public schools in their district. Additionally, the trustees control school property, establish school performance goals, adopt the annual budget, issue bonds and levy taxes accordingly, and enter into contracts. Other more specific duties as outlined in the Texas Education Code.[27]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Texas government sector lobbying

Taxpayer-funded lobbyists for the state public schools include:

School official lobbyists include the Texas Association of School Business Officials and Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

Lobbies concerned with school administrators and school boards include the Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators.


See also: Evaluation of Texas school district websites

The state comptroller's office currently hosts Texas Transparency Check-Up which analyzes the transparency of Texas' school districts. The site currently includes budget data for some of the school districts but not all. In 2009, it is reported that the site will include a "transparency report card" in which school distritcs will be given a grade on transparency. Comptroller Susan Combs said that she recommends that all public agencies adopt “best practices” in financial transparency. "Best practices" include posting online information including: financial documents, budgets, financial reports and check registers.[28]

In August of 2010, HB 2504 was passed requiring high education to establish standards for publishing information about attendance, student course evaluations of the faculty, and to make the information available online. Specifics include:[29]

  • A syllabus, recommended textbook, test and lecture topic for every undergraduate classroom course.
  • A curriculum vitae, which includes post-secondary education, teaching experience and professional publications.
  • A departmental budget report for each term.
  • Cost-of-attendance.


A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave Texas: "C" in academic achievement; "D" in truth in advertising about student proficiency; "B" in rigor of standards; "B" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "B" in for its teacher workforce policies; "A" in data quality.[30]


  • In late June 2009, the Austin school district filed a suit against the Texas Attorney General after the state's law agency ordered the release of certain records to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. Requests were made in regards to the district's hiring practices.[31]
  • In April 2009, local citizens said that public records requests at the Nederland school district was met with resistance: an approximately $400 fee and a 17 day waiting period. However, school officials argued that the documents requested, for use in battling a Nederland ISD bond issue proposal on the May 9 ballot, were take several hours to gather the requested documents.[32]

Academic performance

Every year schools are given an "accountability rating." Ratings range from a high mark of "exemplary" to a low of "academically unacceptable." Comparing the 2008 and 2007 reports by the Texas Education Agency, state public schools saw a 2% (22 schools) drop in the number of academically unacceptable schools and an increase of 1.3% (16 schools) in exemplary schools.[33][34] Totals include public and charter schools.

School Year Exemplary Recognized Academically Acceptable Academically Unacceptable Not rated Total # of schools
2009 9.5% 37.2% 45.4% 7% 0.9% 1,235
2008 3.5% 26.8% 66.6% 2.6% 0.5% 1,229
2007 2.2% 17.8% 75.3% 4.6% 0.2% 1,222
  • A report by the Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes revealed in June 2009 that students attending state charter schools may be falling behind students attending traditional public school. Specifically the study showed that charter schools in Texas produced slower learning gains.[35] "It’s not terribly surprising that during that first year, you see performance drop off," said David Dunn of the Texas Charter Schools Association. "But by the third and fourth year, charter students exceed in both reading and math."[25]

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[36] 2011 Education Spending[37] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[38] 2012 Education Spending[39] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[40] 2011 Avg. ACT score[41] 2012 Avg. ACT score[42] 2010 Graduation Rate[43] 2011 Graduation Rate[44]
Texas $216.9 billion $80.2 billion 36.9% $213.2 billion $76.6 billion 35.9% 20.8 20.8 20.8 71.9% 73.1%

School choice

Charter schools in Texas were established after a 1995 revision of the Texas Education Code. Like public schools, charter schools are monitored and accredited through the statewide accountability system.[45] Texas has a total of 460 open-enrollment charters serving more than 90,000 students. As of June 2009, there is a waiting list of 17,000 students for charter openings.[25]

According to state officials, charter schools were created to:[45]

  • improve student learning
  • provide a variety of learning opportunities
  • provide a variety of opportunities to attract new teachers to the public school system
  • encourage different and innovative learning methods

In 2009, legislation sponsored by Sen. Dan Patrick would have loosened the cap on the number of charter schools allowed and strengthened the state's right to shut down struggling charters. However, the bill failed to pass.[25] A 1998 report showed Board of Education approved all 109 applications for charter schools, even though officials found red flags about the leadership of the schools being raised, including one not being able to spell the word "principal."[46]

External links

Additional reading


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Texas Constitution,"Article 7, Section 1," accessed July 2, 2009
  5. Texas Education Code,"Sec.4.001," accessed July 2, 2009
  6. Texas Public Policy Foundation: Texas Budget Source,"Education," accessed July 1, 2009
  7. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  8. The Dallas Morning News,"Perry formally applies for $4B in stimulus money for education," July 2, 2009
  9. Texas Watchdog, Education stimulus money recipients in Texas flubbed on reports regarding jobs, money and material, TEA audit says, Nov. 11, 2010
  10. Texas Watchdog, Texas AG sues to get access to $830 million in federal schools money; Perry, Doggett exchange barbs, Sept. 23, 2010
  11. Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules," accessed July 1, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2008-09," accessed July 1, 2009
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2007-08," accessed July 1, 2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2006-07," accessed July 1, 2009
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2005-06," accessed July 1, 2009
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2004-05," accessed July 1, 2009
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2003-04," accessed July 1, 2009
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2002-03," accessed July 1, 2009
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2001-02," accessed July 1, 2009
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Texas Education Agency,"Minimum Salary Schedules 2000-01," accessed July 1, 2009
  21. The Courier-Gazette,"Landmark education bill signed into law," June 26, 2009
  22. Texas Watchdog, Massive public records request pays off with list of books most frequently challenged in Texas schools, Sept. 23, 2010
  23. Houston Chronicle, Are these books not for our kids?, Sept. 21, 2010
  24. Houston Chronicle,"Union says teachers’ raises are too low," June 25, 2009
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 The Star-Telegram,"Texas charter school students lag behind study says," June 15, 2009
  26. Texas Constitution,"Article 7, Section 8," accessed July 2, 2009
  27. Texas Education Code,"Sec. 11.151," accessed July 2, 2009
  28. State of Texas,"Transparency by Texas School Districts," June 25, 2009
  29. Texas Watchdog, Greater disclosure of colleges' spending, professors' qualifications lauded by Texas Public Policy Foundation, Aug. 9, 2010
  30. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"Texas Education Report Card," retrieved November 17, 2009
  31. The Austin American-Statesman,"Austin school district sues to keep search documents secret," June 30, 2009
  32. Beaumont Enterprise,"Nederland ISD, bond opponents already at odds over getting information," April 16, 2009
  33. Texas Education Agency,"2008 Accountability System State Summary," October 2008
  34. Texas Education Agency,"2007 Accountability System State Summary," October 2007
  35. Education Week,"Study Casts Doubt on Charter School Results," June 15, 2009
  36. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  37. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  38. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  39. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  40. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  41. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  42. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  43. National Center for Education Statistics
  44. National Center for Education Statistics
  45. 45.0 45.1 TEA,"Charter schools," accessed July 1, 2009
  46. Texas Watchdog, Today's featured video: State approved crummy charter schools despite red flags; schools misspent $13M in state funds, Feb. 16, 2011