OBJECTIVE: Public school finance in Texas is a complex and emotional issue for many residents. On one hand, there are those who support local control over anything else. Others point to a system that is flawed in favor of wealthier districts over lower-income districts. The state has tried to address this issue multiple times to find solutions that are both constitutional and equitable. Every time they do, the plan is challenged in court as someone argues it is illegal or unconstitutional (per the TX constitution). The main objective here is to learn more about why education funding is so problematic.

WHAT TO DO: Your task is to watch the three videos in this folder and answer a set of questions. There are 5 questions worth 2 points each. Be sure to answer each IN YOUR OWN WORDS (don’t just mimic the exact words of the video/transcript) and do so in at least 7 complete sentences (don’t be lazy!). You should create a word file that answers the questions and upload it to this dropbox. Here are your questions:

Video #1: Texas School Finance Overview- (https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=0w96z0BwyxA)

1) This video is from 2011 and gives an overview of school finance. It discusses the 2005 plan that was found unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. Why was the 2005 plan found unconstitutional? What did the legislature do in response with HB1 (be specific)? What was the outcome in terms of funding levels for schools (deficits) in 2006? Beyond 2011, what kind of cuts were expected to districts and for how long?

Video #2: Texas Supreme Court and School Funding ( https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=ZFMX2vgrurw&t=38s )

2) This video is from 2016 and briefly mentions the court challenges due to the actions taken in HB1 (previous video). What was the court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of the current plan? What was the court’s reasoning for this decision? Gerry Birnberg (the guy on the panel) and makes a point about the quality of education. What does he say? What does Jacquie Baly say in response regarding funding?

Video #3: Can Texas System Save Failing School Districts ( https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=_eXYCERxBdo )

3) This video focuses on the impact of funding gaps on struggling districts. Which district is the main focus of the investigation? What is one thing that the superintendent (Ernest Singleton) had to do to save funds for the district? Why does he say this was necessary? What does it mean when a district is “failing academically”?

4) TEA has set eleven areas of improvement for Premont. What will happen if they cannot meet these standards? How many other districts are in the same position? How many times has the state closed districts in the past? Regarding the use of funds, what point does State Rep. Rob Eissler make?

5) In response to Rob Eissler, Scott Hochberg makes a few points about school finance. What does the data suggest about the funding difference between “exemplary” districts and “unacceptable” districts? Why does Hochberg suggest there is a funding gap between these schools? Who actually pays a higher tax rate, exemplary or unacceptable districts? What is Hochberg’s final observation about having a “level playing field”?

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