Texas Improves School Funding But Still Trails Most States
Texas has moved up slightly in per-pupil spending among the states, after the Legislature added funding last year. But it still ranks in the bottom five states, a new report shows.
Texas spends an average of $8,998 per student this school year, 46th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a comparison by the National Education Association shows. That is well under the national average of $11,674.
That’s an improvement from last year, when the state ranked 49th. But it could be a blow to the state’s effort to fend off a suit from more than 600 school districts. They contend that the current Texas school finance system is unconstitutional because funding is inadequate to meet state standards and is distributed unfairly.
In recent hearings in the case, state attorneys defended the system, pointing to a $3.4 billion funding increase approved by the Legislature last year. They argued that the new money — spanning two years of state aid — has stabilized school funding and given districts what they need to educate all their students.
The new figures show, though, that Texas tops only Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah in per-pupil funding. It spends about $59,000 less per elementary classroom than the national average, according to the NEA, a teacher union that compiles the figures based on information from state education agencies.