Texas School Funding Crisis–Bright, Shiny Distractors, Part 2

by Dr. Jerry R. Burkett
Originally Published: March 30, 2011

As the State of Texas continues to work out the funding issues for education and other public funds, there continues to be more bright and shiny distractors that people, politicians, and the ignorant are continuing to spout to distract supporters of educators from the truth. If you need a refresher on the first 3 myths, click here to read about other bright, shiny distractors. Let’s continue:

Myth #4–Special Education Has All the Money They Need
No. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, serving the needs of special education needs can be costly since there are a wide range of services that schools offer our students with special needs.  Did you know that we have some students in our school that have their diapers changed? Or, require special computers to learn the curriculum because they are legally blind?  Did you also know that these students are required to take standardized tests ON GRADE LEVEL?  But, I digress.  There is no endless stream of funding to support the needs of these students.  In fact, their programs are getting cut just as much as others.  In some cases, even more.  The federal government does kick in a lot of money for special education but the state has to make up the rest and since the cuts are coming, special education is not immune to the cuts.

Myth #5–Those Darn Superintendents
The popular complaint from the masses is to cut superintendents or cut their salaries.  If you were to cut every superintendent in Texas, you will only gain about $188 million in salary and we are short around $5 BILLION.  Plus, who will run the district?  But, since this kind of talk goes over most people’s heads, let’s do a comparison:

Dallas ISD: 2nd largest school district in the State of Texas
Employees: 20,000
Students: 160,000
Superintendent: Dr. Michael Hinojosa
Salary: $315,000

Bemis Company: American manufacturer of flexible packaging products. Divisions in 13 countries. Part of the S&P 500 Index
Employess: 20,000
Students: 0
CEO: Jeffrey H. Curler
Salary: $2,677,954

Dr. Hinojosa, perhaps one of the most visible superintendents in Texas, runs an organization the size of an S&P Fortune 500 company but does not make $2.6 million a year.  If you were to compare his salary based on employees and students combined, his salary would be comparable to that of the CEO for Best Buy, Inc. who made $49.26 million in 2009. I think it is time we compensate our superintendents appropriately.

Myth #6–I Don’t Have Kids in School. Why Should I Have to Pay?
Well, I don’t plan on having my house catch on fire, so I shouldn’t have to pay for the fire department. Or, I am never planning on going to prison, so I am going to stop paying that bill too. Tax dollars are collected to benefit society as a whole.  If you want to scrape education off your boot and stop funding it, then get yourself elected and good luck getting that through.  Till then, I don’t think we need to argue about how education benefits our society, creates literate individuals, allows open thought and creativity, and keeps up competitive in a world market.  If you have questions on what happens to a country that does not invest in education, see Portugal.

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