An announcement from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on Monday came with great news! According to them, there is no such thing as a failing school in Texas … kind of.
The TEA just released its newest accountability ratings for public schools and is now using a new metric. Instead of the traditional A-F ratings it has used, the agency has a new system that only grades A-C schools, and those pesky and embarrassing “D” and “F” schools are now swept under the rug with the new “Not Rated” score.
2022 A–F Accountability Ratings reflect improvements in student academic growth rates
— Texas Education Agency (@teainfo) August 15, 2022
Is this not a typical government solution to a problem? They move to redefine terms and eliminate transparency from parents whose children are in failing schools. This report comes on the tail end of one of the worst political bienniums ever for public schools. In the past few years, schools have:
- shut down completely.
- forced kids to learn from their computers at home.
- forced masks on kids at no risk for COVID for months at a time.
- defended pornography in school libraries despite parental outcries.
- held LGBTQ rallies to groom children.
- taught critical race theory (CRT).
- shut out parents who complain at school board meetings.
- seen enrollment drop by 2% for the first time in Texas history, while homeschooling numbers tripled in that same time.
It is no wonder that the school choice movement is louder than ever and has public school bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded lobbyists terrified that their monopoly on indoctrination is coming to an end. But it is surprising that after one of the worst political bienniums for public schools in Texas history, scores across the board seemed to have improved (TEA scores show the number of schools in the A and B categories ticking up slightly).
Before parents jump for joy, they should know that the way schools determine these grades is heavily reliant on the STAAR test, which coincidentally received a redesign to “make it more tightly aligned with the classroom experience.” While the changes to the STAAR test and the new grading system are complex, the overall point is that Texas schools are on a positive publicity campaign now through the end of the 2023 legislative session.
While Texas Governor Greg Abbott has publicly voiced his support for school choice legislation, he has yet to disclose what that would actually look like. This has “educrats” and the education establishment terrified that their grip on Texas children might soon be coming to an end.
Perhaps even more worrisome is the amount of money that any potential school choice legislation would add to education costs in our budget. This remains unknown, since we will not know what a legislative proposal on school choice would look like until the state Legislature convenes next year.
With a projected $27 billion surplus available, lawmakers and lobbyists are currently fighting over who gets to spend the most out of the potential new slush fund. In a recent article, TFR reported that the amount currently available to spend is “around $12 billion,” meaning lawmakers have already gobbled up more than half of the projected surplus to grow the government.
What does this mean? It means we would continue to fund failing schools that are protected from competition, and the money that should be used to give taxpayers a break on property taxes will likely be used to grow our already bloated state budget.
Texas schools are flush with cash. If anything, they should lose funding after the last abysmal two years, and those dollars should then be dedicated to real school choice legislation. Imagine if money already dedicated to public schools were freed from the institutions and given directly to taxpayers, so they could use it to educate their children in the best schools of their choice.
How can you help? Voice your support for school choice and fiscal sanity by signing up for The Fiscal Note to stay up to date on all fiscal issues that affect Texans, especially our broken public education system. We CAN put Texas on a path to fiscal sanity and future prosperity if we amplify our voices loudly enough.