Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Local Choice in Texas Education

TPPF Policy Orientation Panel Local Choice: A New Idea for Freedom in Texas Education.

James Golson (TPPF); Matthew Ladner (Foundation for Excellence in Education); Monty Exter (Association of Texas Professional Educators); Tom Currah (Texas Comptroller's Office); Texas Rep. Scott Turner (R-Rockwall).

James Golson:
  • Big Picture: There is no big picture for school choice in Texas.
  • 83rd Legislature test vote failed miserably.
  • New idea: Giving municipalities the option to opt-in.
    • Might overcome political resistence.
      • Personal note: That'll never happen
Matthew Ladner:
  • Government schools are a permanent feature of the state.
  •  That being said, current practice of public education is unsustainable.
  • Even if it's not a panacea, school choice will help.
  • Per pupil spending has doubled over the past 20 years (2012 dollars)
  • Choice would only slow the rate of growth.
Tom Currah:
  •  Design of a school choice will largely determine financial savings.
    • If it's open to everybody, you'll subsidize folks who would have gone to private school anyway.
Scott Turner:
  • Public Schools are a great fit...for some kids.
    • Not one size fits all.
  • Public education has become too 'top-heavy'
    • A 1 to 1 teacher to administrator ratio is ridiculous.
  • Competition brings out the best in people.
Monty Exter:
  • "Not supporting education infrastructure" "lowers productivity across the state."
  • Standardized testing creates "this whole middle management layer of administrators."
    • Personal Note: That's a very self-serving statement!!!
  • Lots of 'innovation' happening at the local level.
Bottom Line: Education policy in Texas could go any number of directions.  There are no silver bullets.  With K-12 education the largest component of the state budget, and with education spending growth outpacing population growth, tackling education spending is a essential step to put the state on a sustainable long-term fiscal path.

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