Changing public school funding

Florence Shapiro, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, is calling on the Legislature to completely replace the current school funding system with a completely new system. According to a story in the San Antonio Express News, Shapiro and other members of a select committee on school finance have been looking at the issue between legislative sessions and feel that the current system can’t be fixed with another round of tinkering.

Shapiro deserves credit for acknowledging an issue that has long gone neglected by the state’s leaders. The current system has generated numerous legal challenges and so far the legislature has only managed to put band aids over the worst of the system’s flaw. The next session is showing signs of becoming a festival of position taking and desk pounding that will yield little major reform. Efforts to change school finance could end up lost in the battle over whether the state should shift toward more reliance of property or sales tax. However, Shapiro or some other member of that committee might put together a compromise that could win broad-based support. Despite the fussing about particular taxes going up or down, the state would be in their debt. Political leadership in Texas has been too timid for too long and someone is going to have to take a few political risks for the state to move ahead.

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