According to a study by Texas 2036 and the Dallas-based George W. Bush Center, eighth graders in Texas have fallen so far behind their peers in other states that they could lose about $104 billion in future earnings.
Why it matters: Texas typically spends the most on education, but the state’s learning outcomes don’t appear to be keeping up with those of other states.
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The larger picture: Discussions over the state of Texas’ public education system have recently become very politicized.
- The rights of transgender children, the kind of literature that libraries can carry, the treatment of administrators of color in public schools, and other issues have all been the subject of disputes while teacher and staff burnout is still at an all-time high.
What they discovered: The new analysis indicates that it can be challenging for students to catch up once they fall behind in their early years of education.
- 60% of Texas children in grades 3-12 can’t handle arithmetic for their grade level, and 48% don’t read at their grade level.
- Only 22% of eighth graders in Texas complete a degree or credential within six years of graduating from high school.
- In Texas, almost one in five eighth graders do not complete high school.
- The impact of these difficulties is greatest for low-income students.
People who move to Texas have twice as many bachelor’s degrees as people who were born there. This makes it harder for people born in Texas to find work.
- The differences are likely to get worse by the time the eighth graders in Texas grow up, says the report.
Flashback: Public education has been important to Texas since the beginning of the state.
- In its 1836 declaration of independence from Mexico, Texas said that Mexico’s lack of a public education system was one of the reasons for the break.
- The controversial No Child Left Behind Act was first put into place in Texas, where George W. Bush was governor, before it became a national law when he was president.
- During his 2016 campaign for president, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry talked up the state’s high graduation rate.
What they’re saying: “Failing to complete high school leaves too many young Texans facing an uncertain and risky economic reality unprepared to attain a post-secondary degree or credential and cut off from good-paying jobs as a result,” the report says.
- “It’s clear the state needs to be doing more to equip our children for their futures. We need to double down on data-driven reforms to invest in our students and their success,” Former U.S. secretary of education and president of Texas 2036, Margaret Spellings, stated in a statement.