Texas Newspaper Gives SCATHING Critique Of Gov. Abbott's Education Funding

By Victor Smiroff | Wednesday, 29 May 2024 09:30 AM
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Image Credit : Photo by Insider

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has come under fire from a local newspaper for his handling of education funding.

Despite his year-long effort to pass a voucher program through the Texas House of Representatives, the initiative was rejected by the end of 2023.

Abbott's "school choice" scheme proposed providing state funds to families for their children's private school education. The objective was to offer parents more authority over their children's education. However, critics argued that this would divert funds from public schools, which are already financially strained, according to the newspaper.

On May 13, Abbott was criticized by opinion writers for dismissing a request from 39 House Democrats for a special session. The session was intended to address the urgent need for increased education funding across the state, in light of the financial challenges Texas is currently facing.

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State Representative Jon Rosenthal and his colleagues called on the governor to consider an increase in basic and school safety funding for the special session. "In the current state budget, $5 billion remains unspent for public education, along with a surplus projected to grow to $21.3 billion by the next legislative session," they wrote.

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Abbott responded on the same day, asserting that the school package he had worked on the previous year would have fulfilled their demands. He explained that public schools are facing budget shortfalls for several reasons. One of these is the cessation of extraordinary federal funding for COVID recovery, which schools had been using for ongoing expenses. He also pointed out that fewer students are enrolled in classes, leading to reduced revenue. He attributed this to parents' dissatisfaction with the ideological leanings of some public schools' education.

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However, the newspaper accused Abbott of criticizing schools for their deficits and reproached him for attributing the funding freeze to lawmakers who were reluctant to share public education funds with private schools. The publication claimed that under Abbott's influence, a vote on public school funding legislation was withdrawn after House members voted to remove an attached voucher plan.

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David DeMatthews, a University of Texas associate professor specializing in education policy, was quoted as saying, "The biggest reason that schools are in financial trouble now is because the state Legislature was unable to pass a bill for public school funding."

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In his concluding remarks to Representative Jon E. Rosenthal, Abbott wrote, "Know this, my commitment to improving public schools is just as resolute as yours. To achieve our shared goal, however, it is incumbent upon you to work with your fellow House members to muster the votes in the Texas House to get it passed—something you were unwilling to do last year."

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The newspaper interpreted this as Abbott "holding billions of school dollars hostage" unless representatives "vote for a program their voters don't want." In his letter, Abbott stated that the Democrats who had written to him "voted to kill the package" that would have added $6 billion in school funding, including teacher pay raises and additional funding for school safety.

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