School districts in Texas with large percentages of nonwhite minorities receive, on average, about $830 less per student than predominantly white school districts, according to a new national report.

Nationally, nonwhite school districts receive about $23 billion less than their counterparts and Texas falls lower than the national average of $2,226 per student, according to a report by EdBuild, a New Jersey-based nonprofit working to reform education funding methods across the nation.

But local school leaders argue that while the state’s system for funding education desperately needs to be reworked, the problem isn’t one of ethnicity.

“While I do not think the funding system in Texas is fair and I agree that we need more funding for low-income students regardless of race, I absolutely do not agree with a report saying that the difference has anything to do with race,” said Margaret Lee, the assistant superintendent of business and operations at Texas City Independent School District.

Only a few Galveston County school districts meet the study’s definition of a nonwhite school district where 75 percent of the student population identifies as nonwhite. Hitchcock Independent School District, with a 23.3 percent white population, has the lowest percentage in the county, according to a 2017 Texas Education Agency district snapshot report.

Dickinson, Galveston and Texas City school districts have minority populations greater than 70 percent, but do not quite meet the 75 percent threshold, according to state records.

About 26 percent of students nationwide are enrolled in predominantly white districts, compared to about 27 percent enrolled in nonwhite districts, according to the study.

Lee, however, argues the report failed to consider federal funding, a big source of money for at-risk and low-income student programs.

“All districts are subject to the same formulas to calculate revenue and the inputs include tax collections and weighted average daily attendance,” Lee said. “No more weight is given to a white student versus a black student, but low-income students do receive a higher weight.”

Several local education officials, such as Galveston’s Superintendent Kelli Moulton, said they didn’t have a perspective on the study.

But Galveston’s board President Anthony Brown said it was his understanding that much of the state’s school finance issues stem from trying to correct problems the report cites.

More and more school boards across Galveston County are forced to adopt deficit budgets as they struggle with myriad issues. Those include increasingly large payments to the state as part of the so-called Robin Hood funding program, which “recaptures” local property tax revenue and sends it to other districts.

Recapture is part of state legislation created in 1993. Under the law, tax revenue for maintenance and operation from property-wealthy school districts, such as Galveston and Texas City, is taken and distributed to property-poor school districts.

If Galveston could take back even half of what it pays in recapture each year, that could have dramatic effects on the programs the district could offer, Brown said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said reforming the funding system for public schools is a priority in the 86th Texas Legislative Session, but opinions are varied on what, exactly, reform would look like.

The Texas House has proposed a budget that would add $9 billion to education and enact property tax reform, while the Senate suggests giving pay raises to teachers and $2.3 billion to decrease the state’s reliance on property taxes, according to the Texas Tribune.

The legislative session runs until May 27.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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(21) comments

Michelle Aycoth

I do not think more money spent per student equals better grades.
Andrew Aycoth

Bailey Jones

Students perform better in schools where parents and society at large place a high value on education. And people who place a high value on education are more likely to support higher spending on education. So, poor student achievement and low spending are just two sides of the same coin - a society that doesn't value education.

Paula Flinn

Attracting and KEEPING excellent teachers is important. If teachers can make more money “up the road,” they won’t stay.
Free breakfasts and lunches are great for students. Feeding students is important. A hungry student has problems learning. I know, parents should do that, but ....

Jose' Boix

Do we have a method to effectively evaluate and define an "excellent teacher" and either dismiss or coach those who do not meet the standard? This is an issue that most parents have faced dealing with teachers. Texas Legislators are now wanting to reward all teachers with more money; is that a fair process?

Gary Miller

Mike. Since the feds got control of public schools more money has produced lower grades. Failure became an excuse for more money and the worst failures got the most money.

Bailey Jones

Texas is 40th out of 50 states in academics, and 4th from the bottom in funding. It's embarrassing that Texans refuse to do better.

Carlos Ponce

"4th from the bottom in funding" - Here we go again!
Depends on which "study" you use, Bailey.
Texas Tribune says, " Texas ranks 36th nationally in per-student education spending." May 15, 2018
https://www.texastribune.org/2018/05/15/texas-student-teacher-spending-average/
Still low, Bailey but you must figure in COST OF LIVING.
According to the article Texas spent $10,456 per student (NEA study) for the 2017-18 school year.
Who ranks high? The District of Columbia ($21,159), New York ($23,384) and Alaska ($23,005).
Texas has a Cost of Living Index of 90.4.
Washington DC has a COLI of 173.9.
So $10,456 in Texas Dollars translates to $20,113.92 in Washington, DC Dollars.
New York has a COLI of 131.4
Texas' $10,456 translates into $15,198.21 New York Dollars.
https://www.uslearning.net/cost-of-living-by-state.html
Still low you say? Texas saves money by buying books in bulk under state adoption. You get a better deal. In New York schools or "districts" buy their texts individually at a higher price. So they have to spend more.
Same reason why there should NOT be a National minimum wage. One size does not fit all.

Carlos Ponce

"Texas is 40th out of 50 states in academics"
Again, it depends on which "study" used, Bailey. More important - what criteria is used?
US News and World Report ranks Texas 37th.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/rankings/education
Under their "Best High Schools" Category, Texas ranks 20th. (2018)
https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-states-compare

Bailey Jones

Carlos, show me the study that puts Texas at the top, or even in the top 20%, and I'll shut up. Alternatively, please explain why being 20th of 50 (a grade of 60%) is acceptable. You're arguing about everything except the problem.

Carlos Ponce

One cannot assign a grade to being 20th of 50. That makes absolutely no sense.
I've already explained that Texans are SMARTER and save taxpayers money by buying in bulk - not only texts but buses and other things a school needs. Add to that the cost of living index. I've already shown that Texas is not far from DC with a cost of living adjustment. But compare the academics of DC to Texas.
You will not find any studies that show Texas in the top 20% which will be the top 10. Why? Those studies use only that criteria which make Blue states look good and Red states look bad.
I want to know where YOU got the numbers in your original post, when they were taken and the criteria used. You've got some 'splaining to do!

Bailey Jones

Carlos, I agree that being 20th of 50 isn't a grade of 60% - percentile would be technically correct. Yay - you made the 60% percentile! - said no parent ever. I got my numbers where I get all my numbers, where you get all your numbers - on the Internet. And we can quibble about how the rankings are done, and what the criteria are, but again - we never come out as winners in the education game. Wallet hub explains its methodology here - https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/#methodology - graduation rates, math and reading scores, SAT and ACT scores - seems legit. Your assertion that the rankings are rigged for political effect is a little too familiar to be believable - unless you have actual evidence, which I am always open to. As far as funding - $/student covers more than teacher salaries, but I'll grant you that I've not been able to find evidence of more than a weak correlation between funding levels and achievement. So where does that leave us? It leaves Texas as a poorly performing state, and you, apparently, among the roughly half of Texans who think that our educational system is just fine. And me - the ever hopeful progressive - wondering what all these higher performing states have that we don't.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey, you posted: "Texas is 40th out of 50 states in academics, and 4th from the bottom in funding."
I cannot find that information on the website you provided. What I do find is Texas rated 36th overall which is FOURTEEN from the bottom, a "quality ranking" of 35 and a "safety rank" of 41, Fifth in dropout rate ( interesting that DC is rated 51 in dropout rate here but rated high in per pupil spending on other websites), and 38th in spending. I hate to tell you this but 38th in spending is NOT 4th from the bottom in a set of 51. And there is no cost of living index adjustment.
Now tell me, where DID you get your information since the website YOU provided does not match your post? Did you try to pull a fast one?

George Croix

WHY is that so, though....I mean, ALL of the reasons.............?

Carlos Ponce

"WHY is that, though..."
More important is the criteria used in ranking. For some, enrollment in "COMMON CORE" is a plus, non-enrollment is a minus. Texas does not participate in "Common Core". That in the eyes of Liberal studies is heresy.

George Croix

Go on...go on...there's more.....[beam][beam]

It's right behind the 500 pound gorilla over there in the corner....right in the middle of the two faces used to both bemoan AGAINST and advocate FOR a significant reason for school funding issues in 'minority' school....

Anybody?
Anybody?

[whistling]

Carlos Ponce

Another criteria bring down Texas overall scores is dropout rates calculated per ethnic group.
With a larger than acceptable dropout rate among "Hispanics" no need to wonder why. As one Columbian mother explained,
"Mi hijo no está aquí para ir a la escuela. Nuestra familia necesita dinero. Ahora tiene un trabajo."
When told about the mandatory attendance age she said,
"Él ya no vive aquí. Adiós," with a wink in her eye.
Were they here legally?[whistling]

Bailey Jones

George, I think the "why" is simply because educational excellence is not a priority for the average Texan. Or maybe Texans just don't know how poorly we rate.

George Croix

Bailey, when we had my daughter's wedding at the Galvez we planned for X amount of attendees based upon the RSVP's we got. We budgeted enough money for all expenses associated with that number of people, and tossed in an extra half dozen, because of Murphy.....
Had another two dozen, or two hundred, or two thousand showed up, we'd have been....in a mess......

Same principal.
Anyone...anyone...cannot, with a straight face, complain about funding in majority 'minority' schools and in the same breath advocate for, or turn a blind eye towards, a never ending increase in attendance load by kids who are not even supposed to be here.
The most concerned people on the planet about education will be in a pickle for funding it if they have no idea what expenses to expect year to year, and keep having to foot the bills for anybody who walks through the door, in ever increasing numbers.
I'm not sure what an 'average Texan' is anymore, as the bloodline ([beam]) has been so diluted by imports from other countries and from left wing states in large numbers of both. Educational excellence is rarely the top priority of anybody in any state that is trying to stay out of sight, or scratch by in low wage jobs because of their own lack of skills.....
There's no sense wondering why the paint came out the wrong color unless ALL of the mix tints are in before shaking the can.....

Jose' Boix

An interesting concept - "educational excellence." I wonder how can that be defined using standard measurable parameters that we all can understand. Seems that a "successful or excellent education" has many and varied definitions, so without a standard one, we will continue to debate and try to offer solutions - a very ineffective process in my opinion.

George Croix

Anyway, if the answer to schools problems or poverty or whatever cause of the day were only money, everybody would be a Rhodes Scholar and Living Large with all the money tossed at'education' and 'social programs', just since Lyndon's 'Great Society' was dreamed up and a few trillion or so later.....

The problems start at home.

Jose' Boix

This whole discussion reminds me of the movie "Stand and Deliver." A 1988 American drama film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante working with a low income area school in the West Coast. Can that "model" be replicated; and if so would it be successful today?

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