The following statement was issued Monday by Texas State Board of Education Member Thomas Ratliff.
Friday, July 20, was another landmark for the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). Following last year’s unprecedented guarantee that new math TEKS would not be imposed on school districts until the Texas Legislature paid for the instructional materials, the SBOE voted to make this guarantee apply to ALL future TEKS adoptions.
As the author of this amendment to our rules, I wanted to show the SBOE’s agreement with Gov. Rick Perry and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who both recently have called for the end of the financial gimmickry of diverting money from its original intended purpose. I agree that money collected for a stated purpose should be spent for that purpose or returned to the taxpayers.
Every biennium the SBOE sends money to the Legislature with the intent that the money be sent to classrooms across the state in the form of instructional materials. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always happened. The SBOE anticipates transferring more than $1.5 billion for the next biennium. With this new rule, the SBOE is showing solidarity in our desire that the Permanent School Fund and the Instructional Materials Allotment be used for their constitutional and legal purposes. This would result in more than $750 million being sent to school districts for instructional materials in the next two years, which is a significant increase over the current biennium’s appropriated amount.
Quite simply, the SBOE is making a simple promise to teachers and students across Texas: “We won’t ask teachers to teach or students to learn new material until the SBOE and the Texas Legislature have provided you with the finances sufficient to purchase the instructional materials necessary for students to master those new standards on their way to career and college readiness.”
The members of the SBOE don’t always agree, but we all do agree that unfunded mandates on our schools won’t be coming from us. I am proud of this bipartisan show of leadership by our members.