In Texas, Hispanics are a majority in early elementary grades- roughly 51% in 2008 compared to Anglos at 32%. This number rises steadily every academic year. Fewer than 60% of Latino students in Texas earn regular high school diplomas.
Nearly 3.8 million new students will enter public elementary and high schools, colleges, and universities from 2000 to 2040. School populations will become increasingly non-Anglo. More than 80% of total enrollment in all public schools will be in elementary and secondary schools. Increased enrollment leads to increased costs. Total elementary and secondary school costs are projected to increase $17.6 billion by 2040. This means that over the next thirty years, school costs will increase by roughly $586.6 million. The need for specialized programs in elementary and secondary schools will increase and the need for financial assistance for college and university students is projected to increase dramatically.
There is an urgent education crisis in Texas and it is hidden by the fact that Texas officially reports inflate graduation rates. The policy in Texas has been to remove students whose status is unknown. Specifically, tens of thousands of students enter Texas public schools each year, but if they are not enrolled four years later, and have no “final status” reported in their record, they are treated in the data as if they never existed. This is just one of the many ways that students appear to slip through the cracks in data reporting.
Gains Made in Past Legislation
81st Legislative Session:
– HB3 amends Education Code provisions relating to public school accountability, curriculum, and promotion requirements. The bill includes open-enrollment charter school best practices in the online clearinghouse of best practices information established by the Texas Education Agency (TEA); requires TEA to determine the appropriate topic categories for which a campus, district, or charter school may submit best practices; and expands the scope of the clearinghouse information to include best practices of campuses, districts, and charter schools that demonstrate significant improvement in student achievement.
– SB 175 authorizes the University of Texas at Austin to limit automatic admissions of those graduating with a GPA in the top 10% of their high school graduating class to 75% of its first-time resident undergraduate student capacity in an academic year. One of the intentions of SB 175 is to give UT-Austin flexibility to ensure greater campus diversity. Some argue that with a more limited top 10% plan, Hispanic and African American students in rural and urban areas would find it more difficult to be admitted to the state’s flagship schools. Some also argue that schools with a high percentage of low-income students, especially border area schools, will lose out under the new changes.
–HB 772 requires the TEA to broadcast over the Internet live video and audio of all open meetings of the State Board of Education. This bill works to transparency and accountability.