Texas has one of the largest and most diverse groups of students in the country. Educators in this state teach nearly 5,416,400 students in a total of 8,838 schools. With this volume, it is difficult to make a general statement about the challenges involved. However, while each school is nuanced and has unique student body needs, there are some shared issues among all schools across the Lone Star State.
According to the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), the following are the issues warranting the most attention in the upcoming school year — and beyond.
Texas learners receive around $2,300 less in funding per student than the national average. While the Foundation School Program provides 38% of needed funds, property taxpayers foot the remaining bill. Currently, the state’s Rainy Day Fund is projected to offer a surplus of $15 billion in revenue for state needs. Policymakers and educational leaders are hoping to change how much of this profit goes to schools in order to help the ones struggling with COVID-strained budgets, while giving taxpayers some relief as well.
Even though many schools are currently utilizing online or hybrid learning, students will eventually return to some of the same conditions that have safety experts concerned. In-school violence is a worry of every district community. Teacher leaders have suggested directing more funds to school infrastructure, campus security professionals and access to mental health services. School counselors will have an increased role in helping students handle stress or bullying in a healthy, non-violent manner.
Continuing to provide remote learning options will be a top priority for schools in Texas. In addition to funding and teacher development, technology access is an area of concern for many districts. Many schools have ordered laptops, but supply isn’t meeting demand, and some kids still do not have a computer to work or high-speed internet at home. There is much to be done yet to ensure an equitable remote classroom approach for every student.
COVID-19 Testing and Tracking
Keeping schools open depends largely on a community’s cooperation in voluntary testing for COVID-19 and using social distancing practices when they do come together to learn. While an end to the pandemic may be in sight and students are adapting to the new way of learning (with masks, water bottles and social distancing), schools must continue to track and manage health data. Balancing the acquisition of accurate data with an eye to the privacy of students and families is a significant responsibility. Educational leaders will have the opportunity to provide input on the best ways to keep health measures in place without causing legal issues later.
Are you interested in finding the solutions to these ongoing problems? Does your classroom experience inspire you to work with policymakers and leaders to make schools better for Texas children? A Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Administration online can be completed in as few as 16 months. In addition to gaining instructional leadership best practices, you’ll participate in a supervised practicum in administration so you can test the waters before you graduate.
Learn more about Lamar University’s M.Ed. in Administration online program.