Sen. West On TX Supreme Court School Finance Ruling
Style Magazine Newswire | 5/16/2016, 10:59 a.m.
After serving 23 years as a Texas State Senator, who has championed public schools and the equitable funding of such, I would think that we were finally on a path to put Texas children first. Unfortunately, that was before today, when the Texas Supreme Court issued its ruling that upheld Texas' public school finance system as constitutional.
The Texas Supreme Court's ruling held that the state's school funding system met "minimum constitutional requirements," turning a cold-shoulder to at least two-thirds of Texas school districts that were desperately seeking relief from an inequitable, inefficient and unsustainable school finance system that Texas courts had previously labeled unconstitutional.
Despite the Court citing the need for "transformational, top-to-bottom reforms" for Texas schools and calling the system "ossified" and "ill-suited" for 21st century Texas," the all-Republican court punted on the issue. Instead, it encouraged the Republican-dominated legislature that has overseen the inadequate system for over a decade, to fix the problem.
Governor Abbott called today's ruling a "victory for Texas taxpayers." One could make that argument in the short-term. But where is the victory for Texas public school students? As our public schools continue to struggle and as academic performance and college readiness continue to decline, future Texans who are educated and have good jobs will carry more of the tax burden as fewer people have the tools necessary to compete and participate fully in the economy and larger society. Future Texas business owners will also rue this decision as they struggle to hire, train, and retain competent, qualified workers.
Texas currently ranks 38th in the country in per-pupil education funding. Earlier this year, one national publication ranked Texas' educational system 43rd in the country. Texans deserve better. Our children deserve better. But elections have consequences. Texas Supreme Court judges are elected officials, as are legislators. I urge you to consider today's ruling as you decide whether and how to participate in the electoral process in the future.
For more information, please contact Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123 or Graham Keever at 512-463-0123.