School finance

ATPE’s position on Texas school finance issues

School finance is easily the most complex and perplexing of all public education advocacy issues. In Texas, the system itself is extremely complicated. The bottom line is that the state’s method for paying for public schools isn’t working and needs to be fixed.

A brief history of Texas school finance problems

For decades the state has been in and out of litigation over school finance. School districts and other stakeholders have filed several lawsuits against the state, challenging the constitutionality of the school funding system. Our state constitution requires the Legislature to provide an efficient system of free public education. The lawsuits generally complain that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional because it fails to provide funding that is both adequate and equitable or that it unwittingly creates a state property tax, which is illegal under Texas law. Through the years, courts have rejected some of the plaintiffs’ arguments and accepted others, finding the system to be unconstitutional and forcing the Legislature to take action. In nearly every case, legislators have responded by adopting temporary or inadequate quick fixes rather than making holistic changes to the system.

The underlying problem is that the state’s chosen method of financing public education through local property taxes does not generate sufficient revenue to meet state-mandated educational goals and standards. Additionally, the system unfairly allows per-pupil funding amounts to vary greatly from district to district.

With Texas embroiled in major litigation once again and currently waiting for the courts to make final rulings, ATPE continues to urge legislative leaders to increase public education resources now. Too many years have gone by without legislative action, during which students and teachers have continued to be shortchanged.

ATPE’s position on school finance

ATPE supports a fully and equitably funded state and federal public education system for every student. We support any form of state revenue enhancement and tax restructuring that empowers the state to be the system's primary funding source and creates a more stable funding structure for schools. We strongly support efforts to increase funding levels to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing population and to increase funding equity for all students.

Questions? Send us a message or call the ATPE state office at (800) 777-2873.

This is legislative advertising contracted for by Dr. Shannon J. Holmes, Executive Director, Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792, representing ATPE.