Mayor's Office Press Release
Mayor Turner Reacts to Texas Supreme Court Ruling on School Finance
May 13, 2016 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner called today an especially bleak day for students and educators in the State of Texas. The reaction follows the Texas Supreme Court’s Friday the 13th opinion finding constitutional the Texas school finance system commonly known as the Robin Hood plan. The Robin Hood approach was created by the Texas Legislature in 1993 and requires property wealthy districts to share their local tax revenues with the state for redistribution to property-poor districts.
“There was hope that the Texas Supreme Court would uphold the trial court’s finding that the school finance system is unconstitutional and force discussions on an innovative and reasonable method of funding our public schools to meet the modern needs of our student population,” said Mayor Turner. “Today’s decision deals a serious blow to public education and it adversely impacts the City of Houston in a dramatic way. Houston’s diverse population is one of the best examples of why reform is so desperately needed.”
Houston is home to seventeen unique school districts and over one-hundred charter schools. It is now the most demographically-diverse city in the nation, but also one of the most socio-economically segregated. Two large Houston school districts, Spring Branch Independent School District and Houston Independent School District, now face recapture, despite the fact that their student populations are overwhelmingly economically-disadvantaged. The Robin Hood plan provides no protections, waivers, or exemptions for property-wealthy districts that serve a majority of poor children.
As a result of today’s ruling, local tax dollars will be collected and sent to Austin for redistribution to “property-poor” districts instead of being invested in our local schools. Houston ISD stands to lose $161 million; Spring Branch ISD faces a $26 million loss. Despite chronic low funding by the state, these school districts must now balance their budgets by cutting teachers, staff, programs, and educational opportunities. This is not a step forward but a step backward for our community and children.
“Houston’s significant demographic changes and current educational and socioeconomic issues serve as a predictive model for the rest of the nation,” said Turner. “If we want our young people, regardless of zip code, to be empowered with 21st Century knowledge and skills, we must adequately and appropriately invest in public education to help all students reach their full potential. Today, we were denied an opportunity to immediately start fixing the broken system of school finance in the State of Texas, and the City of Houston will suffer dire consequences directly as a result of this decision.”