Bait and Switch on School Funding

Or Why We Refuse to Pet this Puppy

So many pixels in cyberspace have been dedicated to so-called school funding reform in Texas, yet once again the image is nothing but sham.

A May 12 press release from Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman explains that when all the nutshells have been re-shuffled from the Spring 2006 special session of the Texas legislature, the overall commitment to public education will actually decline by $400,000 compared to what was previously budgeted. (See the posting at Angela Valenzuela’s Texas Ed Equity Blog.)

A May 14 analysis by Jason Embry and Laylan Copelin of the Austin American Statesman finds that the structure of funding enacted by the special session will result in reduced revenues for all state services, with likely cuts in programs to follow.

Overall, the results look like a strategic victory for property wealthy West Orange Cove plaintiffs who have managed to leverage their lawsuit into a partial reversal of so-called “Robin Hood” policies that “share the wealth” between property-rich and property-poor neighborhoods.

In addition, panhandle Republican Chris Islett is left complaining that the so-called reform measures will lock Texas education into crippling standardizations. (Again, we look to Angela Valenzuela’s Texas Ed Equity Blog for the sad documentation.)

In sum, the long-standing impasse of Texas education reform has for the time being been clearly resolved on the side of regression, with less equity, less freedom, and more privilege for the wealthy. –gm

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