It’s not just Presidents and SenatorsL some of us will be asked to vote on school bonds and other bond issues when we go to the polls this year. How do you feel about Texas voters who have saddled ourselves with the Nation’s second highest level of local – county, city and school – debt?
The State of Texas lowered the level of local property tax, taking on more of the financial responsibility formerly covered by school and county property taxes. The next thing we knew, the local governments took the opportunity to raise those rates, again and to beg for bond issues, effectively wiping out the intended savings. The thing of it is that voters did this to ourselves and our neighbors!
But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s not worry too much about the debt. (Though it should be noted Texas is only barely trailing New York and California in terms of total state and local debt.)
We should instead confront the common claim made by proponents of school bond proposals: that it will make schools better. It will certainly make the buildings better, or at least more expensive. But will schools, the education provided, be improved?
Despite the hoopla, a new coat of paint, or even new walls, won’t ensure a better education. Only parents and teachers can deliver that.
When looking at the total spending reported to the Texas Education Agency, school districts only spend about 50 percent of your money on instruction. Building more buildings won’t improve that statistic, or produce better academic outcomes.
One thing that can immediately improve education is putting more resources – a greater percentage of school money – directly toward instructional expenses, and less on administration and non-teaching positions.
Let’s try spending more money in the classroom, rather than simply on a classroom.