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New data from the Texas Education Agency is adding fuel to the debate over parental choice and financing education. Each year TEA publishes the salaries of each of the superintendents that run Texas’ 1200+ school districts.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that, with all the talk of “underfunded” schools and low teacher pay, superintendents were humble public servants doing a tough job for a noble purpose and not the pay.  So, you might be shocked to learn that superintendents are some of the highest paid individuals throughout the entire state of Texas.

There are eight supers who make over $400,000 – or more than the President of the United States. It might make some sense when you see that the highest paid super (Cypress-Fairbanks, $536,775) oversees more than 118,000 students. But it starts to make less sense when you see Lake Travis ISD (#6, $418,284) has just over 11,000 kids, or Barbers Hill (#2, $477,213) with less than 8,000 enrolled in the whole district.

According to Yahoo Finance, the top 5% of all earners in Texas make $250,000 per year. That puts 172 superintendents into the elite category of the state’s wealthiest people. That’s saying something for a state that boasts the home of the oil and gas industry.

If you’re surprised and shocked, this may make you angry: just because they’re the highest paid doesn’t mean they’re getting results.  In Ysleta ISD (#3, $451,457), just 51% can read and only 44% can do math at grade level.  In Garland (#4, $444,124) it’s 48% and 39%, respectively. And in Duncanville ISD (#9, $392,000) only 41% can read at grade level and only an appalling 27% of students can do math at grade level.

In fairness, there are a few bright spots, like #1 Cy-Fair ISD or #5 Tomball ISD that have some of the higher student performance metrics. But those are outliers. Most of the highest paid superintendents oversee districts where roughly half or less of the students can read or do math at grade level.

This is part of what is driving parents who are paying top dollar for sub-par results are pushing for greater transparency and, ultimately, education savings accounts that put them in the driver seat.