August, 2005Bite the Bullet - Let’s Deal With the ‘E’ Word – Not Just Debate It
Texans - our viability in the world economy hinges on our ability to educate our children….ALL of our children.
Today – start with this defining moment – it’s time to reform the ‘E’ Issue. You know the issue that can be readily recognizable with just one letter – ‘E’ for Education.
We have reached an impasse. So – who is going to be the bravest one of all and take the first step? Let’s get on with it – our state clock is ticking and there is no time to waste. Every day our law makers dilly dally with the future of this state, the stakes for our children get higher.
Quite simply, we have forgotten who our #1 constituency in this state is – our children….even if they can’t vote now. Our greatest asset is relying on our adult decision-making process.
Guess what? A fine education will cost more money than we are spending on it and it will take more attention than we are giving to it. But, it comes down to this - if we want to remain strong and powerful leaders in the world, we must attend to the most important issue of all - education.
Step 1 - What is our Big Picture Goal? Re-Focus
We all want to make Texas a state full of well educated citizens who are prepared to enter and excel at the profession of their choice; who can raise healthy and happy families without fear, and who will work hard in their communities to promote well being and successful opportunities.
Re-focus on the outcome – not just on the motives for why we cannot reach the ultimate outcome.
Step 2 – Why Don’t We Rise Above Political Agendas
No politico likes to have to go through the pain of proposing major new legislation, the possibility of irritating big contributors, or stepping onto new and uncharted ground – but let’s face it, somebody’s gotta do it. And once it’s done, oh what a relief it will be! And how much credit will the true statesman who steps up to the plate to finally deal with the matter take? After all is said and done, this brave legislator could very probably become a hero.
And don’t point fingers. As far as failings go, everyone is blaming everyone else. BIG waste of time. Must I say more?
But here’s a good idea - why don’t we mandate that Austin not be allowed to address any other issues until we solve the ‘E’ issue?
Step 3 – Let’s Assume That Everyone Involved Wants the Best Results
Who has the most interest in schools in your neighborhood? You and your neighbors do, of course. Let’s assume that the people who are dealing with this issue are well intended, working diligently on the matter, and trying to do the best they can with the resources at hand.
But listen, don’t stray far from home. A friend of mine pointed out that the farther you stray from home, the greater the pork in the budget – because that’s when other people’s agendas start to enter the picture and your agenda gets a bit clouded in the fog.
Step 4 – Isn’t it time to Get Over the Fear of Taxing?
Many legislators have a fear of asking people for money. When taxes are raised to address legitimate concerns of a thriving society – I myself have no problem paying them. But spending money on educating our children, along with all of the associated programs and teacher salaries is a good thing.
In September 2004, State District Judge John Dietz ruled that the state’s method of funding public schools violates the Texas Constitution on two grounds: the amount of revenue is insufficient to meet the constitution’s requirement to provide “an adequate suitable education”; and the property tax system, under which an increasing number of districts are forced to tax at the statutory cap of $1.50 to meet state-mandated standards for academic performance, has effectively removed “all meaningful discretion” from local authorities and become an unconstitutional state property tax. Debate and litigation on this matter will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future.
Step 5 – Optimizing our Dollars
Finding more dollars is not the only way to solve the problems in education. We must also figure out how to optimize existing funds we do have. Frivolous spending is not OK.
Step 6 – What We are Forgetting
The Governor has mandated that at least 60% of the school budget be spent on direct classroom instruction. This is great but…..lets look at some of the following facts.
You are parents of a child attending public school. After having breakfast in the morning, you wave to your child as a bus to picks him up to deliver him safely to school. You feel great because you know that your child’s school has adequate supervision and security to let the kids learn in peace. Oh wow! At school that day your child trips and falls down the stairs. So, her friends help her to the nurse’s office, so she can get checked out. That day she has planned an appointment with her counselor to discuss her calendar of classes for next year. When she gets off the bus later that afternoon, she shows you her sprained ankle and which is enough to keep her out of the scheduled interscholastic event that day.
Sounds like a Leave It to Beaver Kind of Day – right? Well, let me tell you that Beaver has left the building.
None of the above underlined words and services have adequate funding – we may lose these also if these as well as overall education are not properly funde., Think again.
This Ought to Spur You On! Some New Facts from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) – June 2005
1. Population changes and growth make progress in education harder in many states. Overall progress in education could come to an historically unprecedented halt, if the fastest-growing racial/ethnic groups remain at their current education levels.
2. Hispanic population increases are the overriding demographic trend. In Texas, the increase in Hispanic population accounted for 62 percent from 1993 to 2003. Of the 7.6 million Hispanics in Texas in 2003, 2.7 million (36 percent) arrived since 1993.
3. By 2018, in Texas, Hispanic students are expected to rise from 33 percent to 47 percent and white students to decline from 50 percent to 34 percent from 2002 to 2018.
4. In Texas, 80 percent of white adults and 76 percent of black adults had high school diplomas or GED credentials in 2000. The percentage of Hispanic adults with a high school diploma or GED credential was below that of black adults in nearly every SREB state. In Texas, 49 percent of Hispanic adults had diplomas or credentials.
5. In Texas in 2000, there were 1.4 million adults ages 25 to 44 without high school diplomas or GED credentials — 22 percent of that age group.
6. College enrollment patterns signal alarm, but trends are promising. Even after years of education progress, half the percentage of Hispanic young adults attend college as white young adults. Many more black and Hispanic students in the fastest-growing student segments must go to colleges — two-year and four-year — for the sake of our states and nation.
7. The numbers of men increased much less. In Texas, there were an additional
164,900 women enrolled in 2003 than in 1993 and an additional 81,600 men.
10. In Texas, there were 161,800 more black and Hispanic students enrolled in 2003 than in 1993. This was a 60 percent increase, compared with a 26 percent increase in total enrollment.
8. College degrees and certificates are a ticket to higher earnings in America.
9. More than ever before, education pays. Adults with high school diplomas or GED credentials in 2003 earned up to 54 percent more than those without. Those with associate’s degrees earned 25 percent more than those with high school-level credentials. Those with bachelor’s degrees earned 77 percent more.
10. The fastest-growing, highest-paying jobs will require education beyond high school. Most new jobs will still be those that require work experience or on the job training. Jobs in the U.S. for people with associate’s degrees are projected to increase by 26 percent (1.3 million) by 2012 and for those with bachelor’s degrees, by 21 percent (3.6 million).
11. More students are staying in college and graduating. Women and minorities make gains.
12. Seventy-four percent of full-time freshmen who were enrolled to earn bachelor’s degrees in 1997 had either graduated within six years, were still enrolled or had transferred to another college — up 7 points compared with those entering in 1992. State policies, mission differences and reporting practices account for some of the state differences.
13. Forty-three percent of full-time freshmen who were enrolled to earn an
associate’s degree or certificate in 2000 had graduated within three years,
were still enrolled or had transferred to another college — up 3 points compared to those entering in 1995. Texas had a 9-point increase to 51 percent. State policies, mission differences and reporting practices account for some of the state differences.
14. In Texas, women accounted for 70 percent of the increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees. There were 12,500 more women who earned bachelor’s degrees in Texas in 2003 than in 1993.
15. In Texas, black and Hispanic graduates accounted for 60 percent of the increase in bachelor’s degrees. There were 10,700 more black and Hispanic students earning bachelor’s degrees in Texas in 2003 than in 1993.
16. The costs of college are now a bigger challenge for middle- and lower-income students.
17. In 2004, the costs of one year of college attendance (tuition, required fees, room and board) were 26 percent of income for middle-income households. This is 10 percentage points more than in 1984. For students in the lowest fifth, one year’s costs were a staggering 113 percent of income — 48 percentage points greater than in 1984.
18. In Texas, median annual tuition and fees were $3,800 — an increase of 96 percent over 1994.
19. Nationally, 68 percent of full-time, first-time freshmen seeking undergraduate degrees at public four year colleges received a financial aid grant or took out a student loan, or both. Forty percent took out loans. In Texas, the percentages were 70 percent and 34 percent. The average loan amount in Texas for freshmen with loans was $2,000.
20. Nationally, 58 percent of full-time, first-time freshmen seeking degrees or certificates at public two year colleges received a financial aid grant or took out a student loan. Eighteen percent took out loans. In Texas, 57 percent had a grant, loan or both, and 14 percent had loans averaging $1,500.
21. Enrollment growth and inflation have eroded funding increases.
22. In Texas in 2004, funding per FTE student was $10,310 — 6 percent ($670) less than in 2001 after adjusting for inflation. The regional average funding per FTE student was $10,780 — 5 percent ($550) less.
23. In Texas in 2004, funding per FTE student was $5,990 — 3 percent ($190) less than in 2001 after adjusting for inflation. The regional average funding per FTE student was $5,460 — 8 percent ($490) less.
24. Tuition and fees were the largest source of new funds — appropriations have not kept up.
25. At Texas public two-year colleges, there were 70¢ in tuition and fees for every additional dollar appropriated. In the SREB region, there were $2 in tuition and fees collected for every additional $1 in appropriations. For public four-year colleges and universities in Texas, tuition and fees revenue went up $2.10 for every dollar increase in state appropriations. In the SREB region, there were $23 in tuition and fees collected for every additional $1 in appropriations.
26. Increases in faculty salaries trail those for the average American worker.
The average faculty salary in Texas 4 year colleges rose 8 percent to $62,500.
The average salary in Texas 2 year colleges fell 1 percent to $45,300.
To learn more please go to the SREB site at www.sreb.org. More detail on this
report can be found at http://www.sreb.org/main/EdData/FactBook/factbookindex.asp
The SREB is located in Atlanta, Georgia