Senate public education plan better for teachers

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedIf all has gone to plan, I will be broadcasting Pratt on Texas from the Texas Capitol today and through the week. It is a busy time when the big bills are finally being heard and committees are working feverishly, which makes it hard to pull in legislators to the live show, but it is also the time when what they have to say is most consequential. Stick with me this week and we’ll no doubt have some fun and enlightening interviews.

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee agreed to match the full House approved $9 billion in increased spending on public education and some buy-down of local property taxes. The senate plan calls for a $4 billion boost to teacher and librarian pay; puts $2.3 billion for what they are calling a school finance overhaul, and; has $2.7 billion for property tax relief in the form of a buy-down in which local districts have to lower their property tax rates and the state makes up for the lost funding.

Senator Larry Taylor was most right when he said about these numbers: “…These will change — they always do…”

“She said the House plan gives district officials the leeway to use the money as they see fit…”

One educrat, Nicole Conley Johnson of Austin ISD and a member of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, praised Senate action but said she preferred the House plan. Why? Same old saw: “She said the House plan gives district officials the leeway to use the money as they see fit — not only to pay teachers more, but also to boost salaries for custodians, counselors, transportation workers and teachers’ aides, as well as paying for school supplies, health care costs and facility costs,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The Senate wants to ensure money gets to the classroom while most of the school lobby wants local administrations to be able to spend it wherever they see fit.

Past experience shows that usually means growing administrative costs with the funds as opposed to getting it all to teachers. I prefer the Senate’s approach.

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