Every year, the folks at Students First – a “movement to transform public education” – release the state policy report card. It ranks states based on a variety of factors including elevating teachers, empowering parents, and spending wisely. Texas,Â apparently, does none of these well. The state received a D rating from the group, good enough for 31st place in the country, but probably not enough to keep its scholarship, unless it was on the basketball team. Louisiana somehow came out on top.
Texas has much to improve on in its current education policies. The state has created multiple alternative pathways for aspiring teachers and has adopted a strong system of accountability for these preparation programs. But the state has not yet adopted a better evaluation system, preventing districts from identifying, developing, and retaining effective educators. Texas does not prohibit seniority from driving layoff decisions, placing effective teachers at risk. The state should also free teachers locked into its existing outdated pension system by offering more attractive, portable retirement options. While the state has a robust fiscal performance system in place, Texas must better inform parents by giving them meaningful school performance information. The state must also remove its arbitrary cap on charter school establishment and focus on the growth of high-performing charter schools through rigorous accountability. Finally, Texas should grant authority for mayors to take control in districts that are not meeting expectations.