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Volume 70, Issue 60, Monday, November 15, 2004


Staff Editorial


                            Matt Dulin                             Tony Hernandez 
                Jim Parsons             Dusti Rhodes           Richard Whitrock

Texans need pocketbook open for education

In a recent poll of Texans, 76 percent of respondents favored an increase in state funding for public education, and about a quarter of the respondents said that education should be the top priority addressed during the next legislative session, according to a Houston Chronicle report.

Well done, fellow Texans: you've identified that there may be a problem with school funding.

Unfortunately, few respondents supported sales tax increases or an income tax, and most were split over whether the current funding system, which takes money from rich districts to help pay for poor ones, is fair.

So, what gives? How do we propose to pay for the cost of education? Start charging tuition for public schools?

Increasing numbers of Texans seem to be supportive of "sin taxes" on things like cigarettes and gambling, which, if sought, could provide new revenue for education programs. But education needs a more solid footing, a steadier stream of funding from the state, so that economic hard times do not cripple our schools. 

Obviously, Texas needs to take a good, hard look at how much it's valuing its schools in word and deed, and it needs to figure out a way to eliminate the discrepancy between the two. There are a lot of people out there who say schools need more money, but few who are willing to pay for it. Legislators need to do a better job of rallying their constituencies to support new funding for schools, even if it means slightly higher taxes or an overhaul of our current funding scheme.

Texans would do well to urge their representatives to keep education high on the list of the state's priorities. Even though we've passed through the public education system, we don't want future generations to receive a second-tier education. 

Of course, we should be wary of assuming that more money implies better quality. Simply padding schools' pocketbooks won't make our children better thinkers, readers and leaders, but making sure schools are valued and well taken care of is critical.

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