THE STUDY DECEMBER 22, 2011
Texas, like many states, is facing difficult budget cuts—but even in this cash-strapped environment, the Lone Star State stands out. As NPR reports today, “School funding in Texas is in turmoil.” The state has cut $4.3 billion from education over the last school year, leading to over 12,000 layoffs and sharp reductions in everything from school security to special education. Can Texas stomach these cuts?
Data from the National Education Association illustrates a few of the reasons why Texas will be particularly hard-hit by education cuts. With nearly 5 million students enrolled, the state has the second-largest public school population in the country, behind only California. Its public school student-teacher ratio is near the national median, but it ranks in the bottom half for average public school teacher salary and near the bottom for public school revenue per student. And NAEP data from the Department of Education shows that while Texas isn’t the lowest-ranked state for major educational indicators, it usually falls towards either the middle or the bottom half: It ranks 24th in 4th-grade math scores, for example, and 37th in 4th-grade and 8th-grade reading scores. Those numbers are unlikely to improve in the wake of such dramatic budget reductions—especially since, as NPR notes, the cuts could increase even more next year.