School Finance Reform Commission

school-funding-cash-appleThe 2017 Special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott begins on July 18, 2017.
Click here for an informative article from Texas Tribune on the format of a 30-day Special Session.

Now through Election Day, 11/7/2017, is the time your legislators are MOST attentive to your concerns.
Find your legislators here:   Senators Contact Info   |    Representatives Contact Info


Funding Public Schools for the 21st Century, Texas Public Policy Foundation's 2017-18 Legislator's Guide, Special Session Edition. (Content source).

Texas School Finance: Basics and Reform by Michael Barba, Kent Grusendorf, Vance Ginn, and Talmadge Heflin, Texas Public Policy Foundation (March 2016).

Texas Education: Original Intent of the Texas Constitution by Kent Grusendorf, Texas Public Policy Foundation (July 2014).

Morath v. Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition

How School Choice Affects the Achievement of Public School Students by Caroline Hoxby, Hoover Institution Press (2002).

Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Final Report by Patrick Wolf, Babette Gutmann, Michael Puma, and Brian Kisida, U.S. Department of Education (June 2010).

School Choice and Climate Survey, Grand Prairie ISD (Dec. 2014).

How ESAs Can Keep Texas the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave by Kent Grusendorf and Nate Scherer, Texas Public Policy Foundation (Jan. 2016).

What Keeps Texas Schools from Being as Efficient as They Could Be? by Dr. Paul Hill (July 2012).

Eric Hanushek’s Expert Report for School Finance Trial by Kent Grusendorf, Michael Barba, and Dianna Muldrow, Texas Public Policy Foundation (Oct. 2014).


From Funding Public Schools for the 21st Century, Texas Public Policy Foundation's 2017-18 Legislator's Guide, Special Session Edition.


Implement a student-centered funding structure for public education based solely on the delivery of a general diffusion of knowledge.

Ensure that allotments are transparent, equitable, and portable.

Deregulate public schools and allow educators to operate as professionals.


• Total public education expenditures in the 2014-15 school year amounted to $60.98 billion. With 4,778,559 students in average daily attendance (ADA), per student spending is $12,761. Texans spent $12,761 per student, whereas the average tuition for accredited private schools in Texas was only $7,848.

• Only 18 percent of high school graduates from 2010-13 met the SAT or ACT college-readiness standards (Finding of Fact, 160).

• One-third of English Language Learners (ELL) in grades 3-12 failed to progress a grade level in English

• Not one student performance measure examined by the district court demonstrated sufficient student achievement (Conclusion of Law, 71).

• Per Judge Dietz, the system is failing to meet the needs of “hundreds of thousands” of Texas students (Executive Summary at page 3 and 5).

Read more on The Issue from Texas Public Policy Foundation

School Finance Reform Commission

The Call

Legislation creating a School Finance Reform Commission.

The Issue

In the regular session the Legislature did not address the school finance system. The Texas Supreme Court’s 2016 Morath decision upheld the constitutionality of the current school finance system while urging systemic reform.

While the Court made clear that the current level of funding for the public school system is constitutional, the Court did describe the school finance system itself as “a recondite scheme for which the word “Byzantine” seems generous,”[i] and heard arguments from “efficiency intervenors” that the system is “structurally unsound, wasteful, and unproductive of results.”[ii] The intervenors argued that the structural inefficiencies include “establishing school districts as near monopolies, a cap on the number of charter schools, and a failure to determine the cost of educating a child.[iii]

They further argued that “the system is too top-down and mandate-driven, teacher tenure and compensation rules are inefficient, and class-size limits add to inefficiency.”[iv] The Court did not reject the intervenors’ arguments on policy, and Justice Willett went out of his way to state that the court “hope[s] the Legislature will consider” the intervenors’ suggestions.[v]

The Solution

The first step is to create a commission to review the school finance system and to make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. SB 2144 (Taylor, L.) from the regular session would have established such a commission, comprised of experts appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House.

School finance reform commission

  1. In addition to a broken Robin Hood system, we spend too much on bureaucracy and overhead and not enough in the classroom.
  2. Governor Abbott believes, and we vehemently agree. this is a system that has been broken for some time and will not be fixed overnight.
  3. By establishing a commission now, stakeholders and experts will have a year and a half to craft serious reforms to our broken school finance system which can be voted on next session.

nota bene: The legislative session is NOT set up to deliberate and craft the best legislation for Texans, so a commission to study the issue to best meet our students' needs is absolutely necessary.

[i] Morath v Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id. at 36.

The Issue

In the 2014-15 school year... Texans spent $12,761 per student, whereas the average tuition for accredited private schools in Texas was only $7,848... At the same time, the 2014-15 TAPR shows that the average annual salary for teachers was $50,715.