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Federal aid disagreement causes squeeze

The potential loss of $830 million in federal aid from Texas’ education purse looms large over a state where school districts are heading to voters with Tax Ratification Elections and a huge budget shortfall threatens the state’s appropriations for education funding.
We’re in agreement with local administrators and education leaders from around the state that the funding scheme set up now to support the public school system in this state is flawed and will need a hard look. In fact, reworking the system is probably the option that makes the most sense.

Right now, the state is pouring a large amount of money into making local school systems solvent. It is easy to imagine how revoking that support would impact the local taxpayer, should district officials push to retain the same funding. And what options do they have to the contrary when such a large percentage of the adult workforce in this city is employed by the EISD? We’d suffer our own localized job recession on a previously unfelt scale should the crushing cutbacks necessary to float district expenses on only our local revenue become a reality.

This backdrop makes the fight between U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Gov. Rick Perry, a Democratic Congressman and our Republican governor, that much more onerous. With Doggett’s amendment to a $10 billion education jobs bill holding Texas’ feet over the fire with a requirement that the state keep its aid levels for education stable to receive the aid, Perry has positioned himself as the bad guy for many educators by refusing to bend the rules to make it possible. He holds to legal arguments about the power of the governor’s seat in determining state funding and a number of education leaders feel those arguments are paper-thin. Texas, he says, cannot afford to submit to Washington-style takeover politics, especially in the education arena.

With jobs on the line and $830 million hovering out there for the state to take and hold those jobs, that argument is in question.

Regardless, it highlights the need to approach the system in a different way. Ending up in the situation where the controversy occurs is a product of a system that relies too heavily on outside support for many thinkers, and looking at how to make districts more autonomous would be a possible solution.

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Posted by on Sep 21 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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