According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas has improved its funding for K-12 education, now spending roughly $9,000 per student annually, placing it 46th among the National Education Agency (NEA) ranking of the fifty states and Washington, D.C. Texas spends almost $2,700 less per year on each student than the U.S. average, which buoys the court case against the state by some 600 school districts demanding increased funding. The court case, which was previously decided in favor of the districts, continues after state district judge John Dietz decided to hear additional testimony. The new verdict will likely be handed down in late spring.
Dietz previously stated that Texas’ underfunding of its students could harm its economy compared to states that funded K-12 education more generously.
As a high school teacher in Texas, I support ample funding for K-12 education but question the validity of ranking states based solely on their per-student spending. While per-student spending is a powerful statistic, it does not reveal efficiency or productivity. And additional funds for education must come from somewhere, namely taxpayers. For Texas to increase its per-student funding of K-12 education it might have to increase taxes. Personally, I do not want to pay any more taxes.
States need to focus on cost-effective education improvements rather than simply throwing more money at the problem.
Teachers want to know where state money is going. More funding should be going toward teacher salaries and textbooks. Too much is being spent on technology, most of which is readily accessible at home by middle-class students, and questionable programs and administrative costs. I am a traditionalist who believes we need more “bread and butter” teaching, meaning learning via lecture and textbook, and taking handwritten notes.
Instead, we are obsessed with putting smartboards in classroom and buying mobile computer labs full of expensive laptops. Though I love a good digital projector, preferably ceiling-mounted, I wonder why we need so many laptops when virtually every student has a smartphone. Computers in the classroom seem extraneous when there are computer lab rooms on campus and may be more of a fun distraction than a learning tool. While teachers are encouraged to ask for more technology in their classroom, I just want more copies in my Xerox account.
I worry that we focus too much on high-tech gimmicks and not enough on allowing teachers independence and holding students accountable for their own performance.