Overspending is what hinders Texas public education


Mandy Drogin

Mandy Drogin is one of the top education reform leaders in Texas with experience managing grassroots, marketing, election and legislative campaigns. Prior to joining TPPF she was at the American Federation for Children for nearly eight years where she served as the State Director for the past three years and helped make important gains in Texas. She has a talent for organizing complex coalitions and factions, motivating people, understanding and communicating policy, image and branding, and running campaign teams.

Jorge Borrego

Jorge Borrego is a Post-Secondary Education Policy Analyst for the Next Generation Texas initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Borrego was a Legislative Director at the Texas House of Representatives. He also worked in the Nonprofit Sector, working for the Down Syndrome Association of Brazos Valley. Where he worked as an Event Coordinator, Data Administrator, and Policy Administrator. He is currently serving as the Treasurer on the organization’s Board of Directors.

Steve Allison, an outgoing Republican state lawmaker, ramped up the school funding debate earlier this month with a commentary in the Express-News, “Abbott duty bound to call special session on school funding” (June 9).

Are Texas schools actually underfunded? Let’s look at the reality.

Texas taxpayers give enormous amounts of money to public schools. According to the Texas Education Agency, $92.4 billion in Texas taxpayer funds was spent on public schools last year.

The Express-News reported this month that Texas funding for schools has decreased under Gov. Greg Abbott’s leadership, but this is misleading. The article cites one slide in a new TEA report that shows after adjusting for year-over-year double-digit inflation, the weighted average daily attendance for school districts and charter schools went down by one-tenth of a percentage point.

However, the article doesn’t mention the TEA report that says the state continues to invest nearly one-third of its total budget on public education.

Let’s take a closer look at the TEA report.

Total annual funding is at a historic high. According to the TEA report, since Abbott took office, the state has increased funding by more than $30.9 billion. Even after adjusting for inflation, 2023 was still the year with the highest funding, with an inflation-adjusted increase of 23%.

Additionally, per-student funding has increased significantly since 2014. When you look at overall funding from all funding sources, per-student funding has increased by more than 46%, from $10,600 to $15,503. When adjusting for inflation, the state has still increased overall funding by more than 14.5%.

In the same TEA report, the TEA shows that the cumulative change in local and state funding has far outpaced the change in the average daily attendance between 2014 and 2025. Since 2014, the growth in the average daily attendance was 7%, but the growth in the state and local revenue increased by a whopping 54%. This means that the growth in funding was more than seven times greater than the growth in the average daily attendance.

Even so, according to the FTE (Full-Time Equivalents) and Salary Report by the TEA, when we compare the average base pay for all teaching staff in the state over the last 10 years, we find that the average base pay has increased by $11,748 (a 23% increase). This comes out to a   $6 billion-plus  increase in funding for teacher salaries since 2014.

Here’s the bottom line, as we’ve noted before: We don’t have a funding problem; we have a spending problem. Texas teachers do deserve a pay raise. What they do not deserve is for their administrators to regularly misuse funds and keep asking for more money to make the same mistakes over and over.

That’s a disservice to teachers, students and taxpayers. We all deserve better.

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