While many people panic about increased appraisals, an appraisal isn’t a tax bill. Therefore, widespread increases in assessments theoretically shouldn’t mean a tax increase. Cross explains how state mandates on school taxes are treated differently, causing a tax increase. Special rules limiting local control of taxing were enacted by the Texas legislature.
The crisis, rooted in ideological manipulations by political extremists, has effectively shifted taxation onto local taxpayers. This cleverly engineered crisis manifests through financial and political schemes years in the making, undermining public confidence in education.
Tax revenues transferred from wealthy districts to poor districts, called recapture, but euphemistically called Robin Hood, is the state’s attempt to abide by the 1989 Edgewood ruling: Funding public education with property tax is discriminatory. Efforts to institute statewide funding never overcame Republican opposition. Discontent with recapture has kept opposition to public education brewing, resulting in numerous taxation changes that never resolved the foundational problem.
Cross infers public education is too expensive. He blames Plyler’s mandate to educate all people, as if some aren’t worthy, for the high cost. Then he claims that schools are failing. He’s wrong on all counts. First, I doubt that the existence of a few immigrant children in a school adds significant cost. If a teacher has 25 students in a class, then two immigrant students are added to the classroom, the cost doesn’t change. If an English as a Second Language program exists, it may require hiring one additional teacher. And teachers, sadly, are cheap.
We can be proud of our public education institutions, which are a bargain at twice the price. We prepare students for life experiences: Ivy League college, the military, raising a family, professional and blue-collar careers, business and more. Our students learn academic disciplines, social compassion, communication, learning how to learn, adapt, prosper and cooperate.
The National Merit scholars are as well served as the learning disabled; blind, deaf, gifted and talented and average students all prosper in our schools. Transportation, nutrition and a bevy of other programs benefit our communities. The school systems are the heart of our communities. Imagine life without them.
Real costs will be created if native- and foreign-born children’s access to their educational opportunities are limited. When students develop their natural talents and become productive, well-adjusted adults, we all benefit.
Cross infers a false narrative of failing public schools — nothing could be further from the truth. Our schools are providing unparalleled opportunities for the students who want to engage. The highest-level academic curricula for the advanced placement students are balanced with survey courses for general preparation students; unmatched athletics rival semi-pro teams; art programs produce stunning creativity; engaging music, dance, cheer and theatrical performances abound; and ROTC, agricultural and mechanical programs all lead to bright futures and interesting lives.
The only failure in public education is a failure of the Republican-run state government to adequately fund it.