Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez
Phone: (512) 463-0127

STATEMENT ON PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE REPORT
As member of Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance Sen. Lucio declines signing the report

AUSTIN, TX--The reason behind the interim study on public school finance is the push by property-rich school districts to eliminate Robin Hood, and that is obviously why we may be having a Special Session.

My question is: What will take the place of the share-the-wealth system, and will we have the same level of public education equity under another system or will it be any better or worse? The courts required this recapture system in order to ensure that all Texas schoolchildren receive an equitable and adequate education.

The proposal to provide monies to school districts that reach 55 percent of students passing the state assessment test is, in my opinion, too low even though that is currently the average passing rate. My hopes have always been that the target of 55 percent of our students passing would be raised much higher than that. A higher passing rate might correlate with lowering the dropout rate. Once again, property wealthy school districts would probably be the ones rewarded because they have the resources to expose their students to richer learning environments that enable higher rates of passing.

The report mentions performance incentives for teachers. But we should not establish any incentives until we can fund adequate salary increases. And if any incentives are established, we need to identify a funding source. I am very concerned that we are insulting our teachers because an incentives program assumes that they are not capable in the classroom, and this is certainly not the case.

Although school facilities funding is mentioned in the report, there are no assurances that property poor districts will have the adequate funds to build much needed facilities.

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