I appreciated Jack Cross’ explanation of our property tax system (“Understanding how property taxes work, Part 1” April 30; and “Understanding property taxes, Part II,” May 6).

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.

John Allen lives in Galveston.


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(32) comments

Charles Douglas

I'm going to take it by faith that somehow, someway, some LEFTIST union, or some LIBERAL organization inspired this author to publish his opinions concerning education in this country. I was looking at one of the Ex. founders of BLM ...who said the schools in America for African-Americans are sorely in need of improvement!

He acknowledged that any change in the economical gap between the races will have to be addressed with better education, and excess to better schools. I have been harping on this for months. This author is entitled to his opinions, and I respect that! I believe he might be sincere in his thinking, but I think he is sincerely wrong! Mr. CROSS was absolutely correct in his assessments of education, and taxes, and what should be changed, or done for the better!

Bailey Jones

Texas has never made education a priority - or rather, Texas has never made the education of all Texas kids a priority. And Texas never will, because Texans see public education as a tax on them for the benefit of others - in other words, it's socialism. It's rarely cast in that light, but the visceral reaction of many Texans to paying for "other" kids says it loud and clear.

Texas has gotten by for decades by producing oil and agricultural products, and from tourism/hospitality. These are industries where a first-class education isn't necessarily a requirement for most workers. But the areas of Texas' future growth - healthcare, finance, high tech manufacturing, petrochemicals, and energy innovation, etc., require the best education available. Texas benefits from educated workers moving here from other states, but that's no way to run an economy. Economic growth is no longer just a matter of how many resources you can extract from the earth. The future is all about how many ideas you can extract from an educated populace. There is no greater resource than a curious and well-educated child. We need to be giving them the skills they need to create a consistently prosperous future.

The fact that Texas consistently rates in the lower third of US states for educational attainment is a scandal. And it's one that Texans seem to have no desire to fix.

Paula Flinn

“Our schools are providing unparalleled opportunities for the students who want to engage.“

They always have, and continue to do so.

Thank you for the article, Mr. Allen.

Norman Pappous


Charles Douglas

I got to agree with you Mr. Jones on much and most of what you stated here! [thumbup][thumbup]

Bailey Jones

And here I thought the Age of Miracles was past!

Charles Douglas

Mr. Jones> Touche!! [beam]

Jack Cross

Mr. Allen, the purpose of my letter was to: explain the Property tax system and show that it is the system designed by the state who governs the CASs and enforces the state rules that is the cause of the rise in property taxes. In fairness, the state is responding to court mandates.

Mr. Allen took my facts and substate his opinion. I did not say education was too expensive, both local property owners and the state are paying more for education.

What is more expensive is having to educate the poor of the world. This mandate was causes by the 1982 supreme court decision that mandated all students be educated free regardless of legal status. This is an incentive to use kids for illegal entry into the U.S. and that is what is happening at the border.

These kids enter the public school district and bingo, the parents stay. As the numbers of poor students grew property poor school districts grew. This led to another lawsuit for equal funding among all school districts. This led to the court ruling that forced the state to create Robin Hood and about $ 5 billion transfer of wealth.

As these property poor school districts grew with several along the border 100 percent Hispanic and economically poor, the numbers and cost grew. Where was the state going to get the money that the law required to fund education? Texas has no state property tax, the sales tax is the only other large tax source and legislators were not going to raise that so they looked at the large pot of money created by your appraisal increases and the new construction and essentially are taking $ 8 billion, using this to fill the void caused by the court requirement of equal funding among school districts. When you add in the $3 to $5 billion Robin Hood you are looking at $12 to $15 Billion being taken out of local tax revenue.

This is money that could be used to pay teachers or used for better schools and lower your property taxes. It is not racism; it is common sense and facts. American citizens are not being told the truth about the costs to education or the billion in added cost to Medicaid. Why do you think Texas rejected expanding Medicaid? The state already leads the nation in uninsured children with 1.2 million. What would it cost to add 2 million more to that number?

Mr. Allen, yes families are in fact fleeing these public-school districts. That is what caused the creation of Charter school, that is what school choice is all about, that is why the White student enrollment is 27 percent and dropping each year. The Hispanic enrollment is 53 percent and increasing and the reason why Texas has more students in public schools that 28 states have total population.

Why do you think that the three largest school districts in the state Houston, Dallas and San Antonio average less than 5 percent white students? Immigration is bankrupting the Texas Education; it has caused the education system to become a political football. and creating segregation all over again where ever single one of the 20 larges school districts except Montgomery County is minority majority and are becoming democratic voting majority.

Education has become the major player in the border migrant argument. That is a disaster in the making because every nation needs a well-educated society. The destruction of the American family where a father is not in the home is another disaster to education.

Norman Pappous

"The fact that Texas consistently rates in the lower third of US states for educational attainment is a scandal."

Texas is forced by its constitution to educate children that come over the border with a sub-standard education. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to recognize that this scenario will result in lower scoring for Texas schools.

Texas public schools are fantastic and demeaning them is a disservice to the teachers that work so hard for little, IMO, pay.

Bailey Jones

Norman, If your hypothesis is true then we should expect that Texans of all races born in the US would be excelling. Do you have any data that suggests that?

Carlos Ponce

Asians do much better in schools than native born. It comes from a strong family structure and respect for education and educators in their culture.

Jack Cross

Bailey where you were born has nothing to to with that, The data and universal agreement is that kids without a father in a home and even kids of all races do ar worse than others. Schools that have a student population with high poverty levels, people pull their kids out of those schools. Its happening here in Galveston County and across the state. Its not that these kids can't learn, its other factors.

Jack Cross

Bailey, here is a little factual history. The civil rights bill that gave African Americans their due rights.

Since that Time African Americans has been President, Vice President, Secretary of State, head of the Military, Doctors, Mayors, Governors, Police Chiefs and college president.

This Generation, had nothing to do with slavery, this generation gave opportunity for everyone to rise as high as their ability allowed. This generation, gave a helping hand for all who was held back, including affirmative action, carved out voting districts so that the black vote won’t be diluted. This generation allowed privileged to blacks that are not allowed to whites and others such as the Black Congressional Caucus, black college fund and many others.

Texas City has an African American Mayor who is well qualified, a former Teacher, a history of uplifting and working with youth, 16 years as a commissioner and now the mayor. Some of the finest city commissioners of Texas City have been and are serving as City Commissioners. They contributed greatly to making a better city for everybody.

My point being that black are not an inferior race they have proven that they can compete with anyone. The only thing holding them back is themselves. I’m a Korean war veteran, I spent my live working with people of all races working to make my city better for all, I respect the American Flag and stand for the National Anthem.

America is not a racist country, there is nothing I or any of my friends have done to hold anyone back.

When I see these constant calls of White Privilege and racism, I am going to push back because I nor any of my friends have held anyone back or is their anything I can do for people who abandon their children living them to be raided by a single mom/

When I see groups like Black Lives Matter complain about the loss or a black life. Even though in a few cases it their call may be justified, how can any of these people be credible when thousands of black youths are gunned down in black run cities. How is going down this path of angering your white friend or any of this going to make anyone’s life better?

Wouldn’t it make more sense, that instead of spending you time on things that happened hundreds of years ago, instead try to restore the family if one really wants to save lives, do what I do when stopped by a cop, have my hands where he can see them and obey the policeman, I even say yes sir or yes mam, out of respect for the position not necessarily the person. Wouldn’t every one of the recent deaths that has been in the news all be alive today if they just would have done what I any every one sensible person does, obey the police and don’t fight him or try to take his gun or stun gun.

Why follow a political agenda when Black families are in crisis, and because of this, black kids are at the very bottom in education, these are the things that one should focus on. Angering people who have done you no harm will keep you at the bottom.

Bailey Jones

I appreciate your opinion, Jack. And I disagree with every bit of it. (I'm not quite sure what it has to do with school finance, though.) I would be hard-pressed to come up with a single metric (income, wealth, health, employment, education, justice) where POC don't rank lower than whites. If, as you say, POC are not inherently inferior, then the only other possibility for these metrics is systemic oppression (a "rigged system", as a recently defeated president would say). It's built into every aspect of our society.

BTW, the pedant in me says we've yet to have either a black president or a black VP. We've gotten close with Obama (half white) and Kamala (half South Asian). We have had a black first lady, so I guess that's progress.

Mary Gillespie

Bailey, as a degreed chemical engineer (Texas A&M) and wife of a petroleum engineer, I take personal offense from your claim that oil industry jobs don't require the best education available. Even the non-design jobs operating refineries and building pipelines require special training and expertise. Your prejudice against non-degreed workers is showing.

I teach college level mathematics at a public high school. My students achieve at such high levels YOU couldn't pass their tests unless you have an engineering or mathematics degree. Galveston county public schools are doing a great job.

Bailey Jones

haha - I knew someone would ding me on that. Actually, when I was in school, I was in awe of chemical engineers. I rank them at the top of the engineering heap. I was speaking, of course, about the roughnecks and roustabouts who do the hard physical work of building rigs and pipelines.

I have no prejudice against non-degreed workers. All labor is deserving of respect, and a living wage. I design spaceships for a living. Not a single one could exist without the labor of talented machinists, welders, technicians, etc. But innovation drives the economy, and that usually comes from higher education. Surely you would agree that your math students have a greater potential for expanding our economy than a kid earning $10/hour driving an Amazon truck.

What you do - teaching college-level math to high school students is the very thing that I'm advocating. When I was in college, I was tangentially involved in the development of signal processing algorithms used to decode the reflection of sound waves through the earth for the purpose of finding oil. That's the sort of innovation that creates good jobs for people of all educational backgrounds - but it came from the kids who studied math and engineering in college. Those are the kids we need more of. And funding schools and teachers is how we get them.

Norman Pappous

I'm a big believer in big funding for public schools.

That said, my experience as a GISD trustee informs me that this sentence is incorrect "First, I doubt that the existence of a few immigrant children in a school adds significant cost."

When a child comes into the system, they must be provided with an education by state constitution - not the US Constitution. If that child does not speak English, and is 15 but with a fourth grade education the district must educate that child responsibly which effectively means hiring a dual language teacher. From a safety standpoint, the district simply cannot throw in a 15 year-old into a fourth grade class filled with 9 or 10 year-olds.

That is very expensive. How common is this scenario? Much more common than you might believe.

Ted Gillis

Norman, the parents of these children live somewhere in the district, either buying or renting. If they are renting, then they are paying property taxes through a landlord, just like any other renter. Their parents are also buying food, clothing, gasoline, and other merchandise, thus paying state and municipal taxes like the rest of us. It should be no more expensive to educate an illegal pupil than any other student. By using your flawed analogy, we shouldn’t allow developers to build new homes and apartments in our district, because well......it’s too expensive to educate the new population.

Norman Pappous


"It should be no more expensive to educate an illegal pupil than any other student. B"

that is simply not true Ted. And the data, which every Trustee and admin sees, will tell the same tale.

Don't spread false information.

Norman Pappous

"The public-education establishment can’t have it both ways on this issue. The Los Angeles school board, for instance, harshly criticizes Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, but also complains about its own budget shortfalls. The numbers, however, confirm that illegal immigration imposes large costs on the public school system. Policymakers should acknowledge and wrestle with this expensive reality instead of satisfying themselves with cheap rhetoric."


Ted Gillis

Well Crap Norman, what’s the answer then? Withhold education? Let a whole class of people go uneducated just because of their parents citizenship status? That’s not the answer. Fix the problem of illegal immigration, for goodness sakes, but don’t punish the kids.

I don’t even think that Carlos believes withholding an education from illegal children is the right answer.

Bailey Jones

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a conservative friend way back in college - this would have been about 1980. He was complaining about having to educate illegal kids, and asked me if I understood what this could lead to. My answer was "educated and productive members of society?"

That's still my answer. Those kids would be in their 40s and 50s now. They probably got "legalized" under Reagan's amnesty program, and have been working hard and paying taxes for decades, and their kids (and grand kids) are fully Americanized Americans now.

America has always had to deal with educating non-English speaking immigrants. We are the melting pot for all of humanity, after all. It's who we are. It's what we do. I'm not going to blame immigrants for making us do the very thing that defines us as a nation. If it costs money - well, we're the richest empire on the planet.

Norman Pappous

Who said anything about withholding what is a state constitutional right? We 110% have to educate these kids. But Texans should be angry that the Feds do not secure a border and do not enforce the rule of law regarding illegal border crossings.

This nation NEEDS immigration. We have to have it. But there is no reason that illegal border crossings should be tolerated.

You want to come to the USA? Please apply and wait for the decision in your own country.

FYI - my Nigerian friends want to know why they can't start flying planeloads of Nigerians into Miami or Houston and get the same treatment that they would receive if they crossed over the Rio Grande...

Charles Douglas

Mr. Pappous! Mr. Pappous, See ..I have been monitoring your posts. See, you could have save yourself a lot of effort, oxygen, and words, if you had asked your "NIGERIAN PLANE LOAD" question from the start, because all you have gotten as answers are ** CRICKETS*** & **CRICKETS![wink]

Jose' Boix

Interesting "conversation." Let's throw in the funding formula that is "student-equal." However, you can't compare having an ISD with 70+% Economically Disadvantaged population with one that has; say, 15% or less. In education, one size does not fit all is proven fact. Finally, bringing into the fold students from other cultures such as Asians and even Europeans is counter-productive, as family structure, i.e., unity and standards make a huge positive difference. Just my thoughts as this "conversation" continues.

Jack Cross

I don't seem to be getting this across, we are awash in money , we just can't use it/

One more time. Every taxing bod except schools, set their own Tax rates, it doesn't make any difference what your appraisals do, If these taxes go up, blame these taxing bodies.

That leaves schools. The state caps the amount per student and caps the bottom tax rate at $1,00 per $100.00 Valuation and $1.17 st the top.

since the taxing school district has a pile of money left in it, The state takes this and Robin hood money . This together is a staggering amount in the range of $15 billion dollars annually. If schools were using the same tax system as cities and the other taxing bodies, like they use to do before 1990, there would be no problem. in fact your taxes would be significantly lower. Open borders and laws that reward immigration of poor people and free babies comes with both a cost and a lowering of the education standards, because so many young kids are not ready to learn.

The state won't tell you this because of political risk plus they would have to find another source of about $15 billion in revenue. They leave things like it is because no one understands the system and legislators can run on blaming someone else.

Charles Douglas

Sounds reasonable, and accurate to me Mr. Cross. Now all we need are politicians with starch enough to run for public office and help change what is bad back to what was good! That is not the only thing though, we also need an electorate with eyes to see HOW they are getting the short end of the stick ....to vote for change.

Keith Gray

Jack I appreciate the information, but the result of my appraisal value going up is I pay more in taxes. Unless the taxing entity lowers their tax rate to equal the amount my taxes increased.

Richard George

I'm still waiting for the approval of the Texas lottery to assist with some of the cost of Texas education. Not to go off topic, but why are teachers so underpaid? Teachers are way undervalued. They are preparing our kids and our future. We pay athletes, actors, and such millions. These are entertainers. Trivial, for entertainment purposes. Somehow we deem them very valuable. I guess that is where our priorities are.

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] I agree. I suspect it's because no one wants to pay taxes. 25% of lottery receipts go to the Foundation School Fund which distributes it to schools (https://www.txlottery.org/export/sites/lottery/Supporting_Education_and_Veterans/index.html). But the lottery only accounts for about 5% of school funding.

"But before you run out and try and scratch your way into a school finance fix, there’s something else you should keep in mind. Education is primarily funded through property taxes, and if property values in a certain district reach a certain level, some of those tax revenues are re-distributed to other districts in a system known as “recapture.” Much like those lottery funds, money collected in “recapture” is statutorily dedicated to funding public schools.

But when the legislature sees how much is coming in each biennium, from both recapture and the lottery, they can then choose to move other state revenues, like sales or franchise taxes, out of public education, keeping the total amount being invested in education the same. Despite rising property values across the state and growing lottery ticket sales, the amount invested per student has remained virtually unchanged for more than a decade." -https://www.investedtx.org/blog/2018/11/29/does-the-texas-lottery-fund-texas-schools

Charles Douglas

I agree My George, and you are so right, but I do have ought against how the unions are working against the well being of the students in many parts of this nation! The pay issue you mentioned is definitely something which deserves attention.

David Hardee

The author says, “Our students learn academic disciplines, social compassion, communication, learning how to learn, adapt, prosper and cooperate.” He might get an education himself if he would utilize the STATISTICAL information on the quality of the USA education comparatively over the last 60 years. For 60 years the USA has been in decline and compared to international statistics it has fallen dramatically. The “Big Tent” Progressive liberal nanny state is raising our children to fail.

Paula Flinn says, ““Our schools are providing unparalleled opportunities for the students who want to engage.“

They always have, and continue to do so.

Thank you for the article, Mr. Allen.”

Wanting to engage in what is the issue - and opportunities for what curriculums is another issue. The "school" has been redefined to a progressive liberal bastion of socialization with the emphasis on - daycare - with a scattering of the three R's. pIck up the kid, feed the kid, facilitate the kid's inequity of language, and counsel any peculiarity because that peculiarity is the fault of 247 years of America's original culture.

The progressive’s word engage has replaced achieving in basic three R's. The score of achieving has been reduced to, practice of promoting a student to the next grade after the current school year, regardless of if they learned the necessary material.

A kid that was gifted with 2 biological parents and taught to be responsible and respectful will always achieve in school, despite all the nonsense promoted by progressive liberal corruptions on our educational system.

For the last 60 years the USA standing on education compared statically is in the toilet and still declining. The progressive liberal “socialization” has created this nanny/socialist USA.

These commenters that can’t see what is obvious are products of this socialist school system.

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