Quality education is the foundation of the Texas economy and the prosperity of our citizens. Texas public schools educate more than 90 percent of all students and are the best tool we have to create the most opportunity for everyone. Sufficient school funding is essential to providing high-quality educational opportunities for all Texas students.

Funding Basics

School districts and charter schools are funded by state appropriations, and district schools are also funded by local property tax collections.

The Texas Legislature determines the funding level for schools each session, and lawmakers decide whether to increase or decrease support (including funding enrollment growth and funding for students who are more costly to educate, such as young learners, English language learners, and students from low-income families.)

Texas currently ranks 49th in the nation for per pupil funding, adjusted for regional cost differences, according to the Education Week Research Center’s “Quality Counts 2015.”

Funding Cuts Affect Students

During the recession and budget shortfall of 2011, the legislature cut approximately $5.3 billion from public schools. The effects were dramatic, with increased class sizes, program cuts (including full-day pre-k), and programmatic changes. The cuts were only partially restored in 2013 and 2015, and schools continue to do more with less. Deep budget cuts immediately impact school districts, while the full extent of the damage is not evident until much later. The complete effects of the 2011 cuts may not be fully realized for several more years.

Due to complex funding formulas in state statute used to distribute public funds to schools, students in certain geographic and socioeconomic areas of the state also suffer from inequities in school funding distribution, limiting the opportunities available compared with wealthier districts.

Raise Your Hand Texas supports fully funding public schools according to adequate and equitable measures. We also support funding future student enrollment growth and giving campus leaders the resources they need to innovate and deliver the highest quality education to all students.

School Finance Litigation

There is a long history of school finance litigation in Texas, beginning with the first claim of unfair funding in 1968 with Rodriguez v. San Antonio. Battles over the adequacy and equity of public school finance continue today, with the current school finance case, originally filed in October of 2011, still pending in the courts.

The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments by plaintiff school district groups during the fall of 2015; a ruling is expected in 2016.

Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to monitor school finance litigation and subsequent actions by the Texas Legislature.