Texas Homework

is to educate whole generations, but if California and Texas were to be graded for their achievements in the classroom, they would barely pass.They rank 36th and 41st, respectively, out of 51 states (including Washington, ) for educational outcomes, according to Education Week, a news firm. During that time, the university has been designated one of the state's Emerging Research Universities as well as a federal Hispanic-Serving Institution.

It is one of four states to offer lifetime tenure to teachers after only two years.

In most states, including Texas, achieving tenure takes three or more years, and even after that it is easier to fire underperforming employees.

Only 29% of fourth-graders (aged 9-10) in Texas and 31% of their counterparts in California are proficient in reading at their grade level, compared with 35% nationally, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which measures student achievement (see charts on next page).

Since nearly a quarter of America’s public-school students are educated in California and Texas, the states’ performance matters profoundly for the country’s future.

There has also been a broader shift away from testing and accountability at state level, meaning that underperforming schools in the Lone Star State face fewer consequences, says Sandy Kress, a lawyer.

(California has also pushed back against testing.)But although there is less money to go around in Texas, there is more latitude to experiment.With defined-benefit pensions and health-care subsidies, spending on benefits is eating up a growing share of the education budget.In 2012 Californian voters approved a 30% increase in income-tax rates, in part to fund public schools, but all that extra funding went to pensioners and their health care, rather than to pupils or teachers’ salaries, says Mr Crane.School districts’ limited ability to manoeuvre shows up in California’s education code, which, at 2,590 pages, is more than twice as long as the Bible.The financial crisis also hurt educational performance in both states.One example is a programme developed by the Dallas Independent School District, which eliminated seniority-based pay in order to reward its best-performing teachers, with some earning ,000-90,000 a year.Those star teachers who agree to teach in a high-needs school get an extra salary lift of ,000-10,000.Politicians are loth to deal with the rising costs of benefits for fear of a backlash at the polls.Teachers’ unions are a powerful political force in California, significantly more so than in Texas.Yet less than 7% of economically disadvantaged kids are prepared for college, compared with 27% of children who are not economically disadvantaged.Those who enroll in community college or university in either state can spend months taking remedial courses before their coursework counts towards a degree, says Jim Lanich of Educational Results Partnership, an Education is the biggest budget item in both states, costing 0bn per year in California and bn in Texas. “Education is the single largest enterprise in California. And it sucks,” exclaims David Crane of Govern for California, a political outfit.


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