Thursday, February 11, 2016

When Did Public Education Become the Enemy?

I came across an interesting article published in a Nebraska newspaper and written by a superintendent asking this very question.  The points he made in that article resonate with what is happening in the State of Texas as well so I wanted to share some of the pertinent facts about the successes in Texas public schools.

Like Nebraska, the public education system in the State of Texas is under attack on several fronts, not the least of which is coming from some government leaders in Austin.  But the reality is that the vast majority of Texans are strong supporters of their local public schools, the very schools where their children are enrolled.  Admittedly, there are pockets of concern and it is true that all children are entitle to receive a quality public education. 

Where I differ is in how we address those gaps, believing that funding is one element that will help address shortcomings.  I’m also smart enough to know that throwing money at an issue won’t necessarily solve the problem.  The solution lies in an overall engagement model that starts with funding but then permeates through parents, community leaders, businesses and, most importantly, the students themselves.  And that’s a story for another blog, one already published and a topic about which additional blogs will be posted.
Consider these facts:
-       Texas leads the nation in graduation rates at 88.3% of incoming 9th graders graduating on time. (Friends of Texas Public Schools –
-       Texas 4th graders scored well against other states’ 4th graders 0n the NAEP (National assessment of Education) test.
-       African American students ranked 2nd in the nation.
-       Hispanic students ranked 4th in the nation
-       Eighth grade Hispanic student ranked 4th in the nation.
-       Eighth grade African American and White students ranked 6th in the nation. (Texas Education Agency -
-       Texas ranks 45th in per pupil funding at $9500/student, compared to a national average of $10,700.  (US Census Bureau -; Education Week 2015 Quality Counts Report –
-       Texas public school enrollment has grown by more than 500,000 students over the past eleven years.  (Texas Education Agency –

So what does all of this tell us?  The numbers tell a very different story than that being told by those who are focused on tearing down public education in the State of Texas.  Local districts are working with the resources they have to deliver an outstanding product.  Sure, there is always room for improvement but to constantly focus on the deficiencies instead of celebrating the successes does a disservice to all involved with public education.  Now, more than ever, it is important that we all understand the facts and that we continue to Make Education a Priority.

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