Tribpedia: Public Education

More tax dollars are spent on public education than on any other governmental program in the state. Public elementary and secondary education in Texas is financed by a combination of state, local, and federal revenue, a system that has produced inequities among the state's 1,030 traditional school districts and 207 charter operators.

As of 2010, more than 4 ...

Marathon Elementary School.
Marathon Elementary School.

In West Texas, a Town's Fate Tied to Its School

With a pre-K through 12 enrollment of just 56 students, Marathon ISD is one of the smallest in the state. But the school’s fate is critical to the survival of the remote West Texas town, and if what is happening here works, it could serve as a model for other rural towns scattered across Texas looking to shield their way of life from the death knell of school closures.

Athletics: Where Budget Balancers Fear to Tread?

With Texas public schools facing cuts of as much as $10 billion in state funding, predictions of the consequences have been dire: teacher layoffs in the six figures, bigger class sizes, fewer instructional days, slashed support for at-risk students. One topic conspicuously absent from the conversation: athletics. Are lawmakers and school boards fearful of treading on the hallowed turf of high school football? Perhaps, but the unhappy answer, at least for gridiron lovers, is that nothing is safe — not even sports in the land of Taj Mahal stadiums. 

Paige & Spellings: The TT Interview

Last week, a group of mostly conservative-leaning education leaders — including former University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman Charles Miller and House Public Education Chair Rob Eissler — gathered in Austin for a forum titled "Improving Productivity in Public Education." Former U.S. Secretaries of Education Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings under President George W. Bush took time to discuss the state's looming budget cuts, the Bush legacy, President Obama and what should change in public education.

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott answers questions at TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011
Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott answers questions at TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011

Ed Commissioner: Don't Lose Cool Over Cuts

"Now is not the time to point fingers and scream and yell. Now is the time to solve the problem," Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott told more than 6,000 public school leaders from across the state today.

Business Leaders Sound Alarm About Education Cuts

Lawmakers will soon take an ax to the state budget, but business leaders are hoping one big-ticket item will be spared. At its annual conference in Austin this week, the Texas Association of Business sounded warnings about potential cuts to public education. Erika Aguilar of KUT News reports.

Pre-K Programs Vulnerable as Schools Confront Cuts

Just how important is full-day pre-kindergarten for the state’s youngest and most disadvantaged kids? Is it more important than after-school tutoring? Than canceling music and art classes? As public school officials brace for a proposed $10 billion less in state funding, that’s one decision they'll have to make. “It's choosing between bad and worse and bad and bad,” says one superintendent. “It's definitely not a good day when we are sitting around talking about whether class size going up could help salvage all-day pre-K, or vice-versa.”

Barton Hills Elementary is one of eight that may close in Austin Independent School District.
Barton Hills Elementary is one of eight that may close in Austin Independent School District.

What Should Districts Do With Empty Schools?

Texas public schools are facing what could be $10 billion less in state financing — a stark prospect that could empty school buildings across the state as districts consolidate campuses to reduce costs. What should happen to these structures, which are built with taxpayer money? 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 1/17/11

The Trib staff on the sweeping cuts in the proposed House budget, Grissom on what's lost and not found at the Department of Public Safety, Galbraith on the wind power conundrum, Hamilton on higher ed's pessimistic budget outlook, Stiles and Swicegood debut an incredibly useful bill tracker app, Ramsey interviews Rick Perry on the cusp of his second decade as governor, Aguilar on a Mexican journalist's quest for asylum in the U.S., Ramshaw on life expectancy along the border, M. Smith on the obstacles school districts face in laying off teachers and yours truly talks gambling and the Rainy Day Fund with state Rep. Jim Pitts: The best of our best from January 17 to 21, 2011.

Thousands of Job Cuts May Be Just the Beginning

With some top state leaders warning that Texas’ dire fiscal situation will lead to the loss of several thousand state jobs, House budget writers will release their first draft budget today. As Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, big job cuts may be just the beginning.
House and Senate bills filed from 11/8-1/4.
House and Senate bills filed from 11/8-1/4.

Word Cloud Shows Lege Priorities So Far

A new word cloud visualizes the bills filed so far according to their Texas Legislative Council assigned categories. After education, which accounts for more than a quarter of the bills, the top categories are elections, criminal procedure, vehicles and traffic, and taxation. 

Key Education Mandates Could Be Cut to Save Money

Get acquainted with a phrase that will be oft-repeated in the upcoming 82nd Legislature’s brawls over public education: unfunded mandate. To help schools cope with any reduced funding, lawmakers will look to relax state regulations that create costs local school districts bear on their own or with limited help from the state. But will dropping these requirements hurt educational quality?

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Dec. 20, 2010

Ramshaw on how hard it is to sue over emergency room mistakes, Galbraith on paying for roads in an era of fuel-efficient vehicles, Aguilar on a disagreement about gun regulation, my interview with tort reformer Dick Trabulsi, Grissom on Perry's parsimonious pardoning, Hu and Chang interactively look at House committee chairs, M. Smith on an election challenge and who'll settle it, Ramshaw and Stiles on Dallas County's blue streak and Hamilton on a Valley school district that leads the nation in preparing kids for college: The best of our best from Dec. 20 to 24, 2010.