A recent report by the Texas Tribune
examines the Texan education system in terms of spending and ramifications. The Tribune reports that Texas has been consistently ranked among the bottom five states in spending on education yet finds its students scoring above average on national exams. Governor Rick Perry attributes this to stricter standards and accountability measures held by schools in Texas. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen. The lack of government spending may simply be passing on the spending to teachers, who find themselves spending an average of $697 a year on school supplies. Teachers in Texas are finding themselves under an increasing amount of pressure from the Texan government. Their pay averages at around $49,000 a year, which is $8000 lower than the national average. The number of teachers taking on a second job in Texas has increased significantly. The lack of middle school math and science teachers and ESL teachers has 32% of Texan teachers teaching outside of their field. Despite this lack of math, science and ESL teachers, the number of teachers employed by the state has actually decreased, making teachers fear layoffs.
Yet despite these pressures, students seem to be doing well. Although SAT scores have gone down, ACT scores have gone up. The number of African American and Hispanic students students in AP classes has significantly increased. The cause isn't crystal clear though. On one hand, the tougher standards and layoffs could be weeding out bad teachers and creating a better learning environment. On the other hand, teachers pushed into subjects they hadn't studied and faced with the possibility of losing their jobs could be resorting to methods such as teaching to the test. Whichever the case may be, though likely a mix of both, the teachers of Texas deserve better treatment. According to a report by the Texas Taxpayers Research Association,
the Texan State Government actually ran a surplus in it's budget. Results on a lower budget are certainly something the government should aim to do whenever possible, but when a state like Texas, with no individual state income tax, find themselves with a surplus and teachers find themselves taking on second jobs and paying for school supplies, some of the money should go to providing some relief to teachers.