How much are you worth? Have you ever just stopped to actually calculate your worth to the world? By what factors would you measure your net worth: educational achievements, number of children raised, new technologies invented? How much would you go for at an auction? 1 Billion? 2 Trillion? How about $3,402? Does that number sound a little low? It should. Unfortunately, that is the allocation that Houston ISD will be considering giving each high school per student. This number becomes even harder to swallow when you understand that the national average per student in 2011 was $10,560.
This shocking statistic becomes even more baffling when you realize that of that in 2012, 74.2% of HISD’s budget went to salaries, including that of the superintendent and his cabinet. Amazing right? While the average college tuition at a public college is $22,261 a semester, we spend less than half of that on public school education. So what’s the problem? Why do we not spend more on our children?
HISD uses a weighted student resource allocation formula to fund school-based budgets. The weights used in the resource allocation formula closely resemble those used by the state for special categories of students. They incorporate projected populations, average daily attendance, and special programs into the formula. From there each school principal must decide whether to pay for an extra teacher or keep the school nurse or get new computers for the library. There was a joke that stated, "In Texas there are only a few people that know much about the school finance and many of them make it up as they go!" This seems to be the case each year for HISD.
This complicated formula has confused even the best of mathematicians. The major issue with it, though, is that it allows for overcrowded schools to receive more money to remain overcrowded and less populated schools receive less more to remain under-populated. Though HISD states that they have a fund, which gives money to under-populated schools to survive, it is clear that the current administration would like to just close them instead. The administration has taken programs out of schools, allowed for schools to decline, and ensured that they fail by removing essential staff members such as teachers, librarians, and nurses. And every time a school closes the administration continuously points out that the formula will not allow for that close to continue.
I am not advocating that we just throw more money at the issue, but I am suggesting that the HISD administration and Board revisit the formula to ensure that there are more resources given to each individual school not just the administration building. Principals should not have to make such decisions because the central administration refuses to do its job of educating children. The administration must ask itself this question. What will our nation be worth once we fully educate our children? Though there are several factors that play a part in education, we can all agree that spending $3,402 on a child is far too low.
There is an old adage that states: "If you want to know what a man values, check where he spends his money." Clearly, our children are not a priority for HISD. #ijs