Robin Hood Program: Bringing Equity to Texas Schools

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In the mind of modern America, education and economics come hand in hand. For over a decade, the citizens of Texas and the state government alike have spoken their views on how to find an equal balance between these two notions. The issue stems from economic disparities between the varying classes in Texas society, resulting in inadequate resources for poorer school districts and below average conditions for underprivileged students. In an effort to level the educational playing field, the implementation of school finance reform sparked an era of controversy.

Concern for this predicament proved to be more prevalent in Texas than in any other state. Due to its vast geographic area and diverse population variance, Texas maintains the greatest discrepancy between average household income and district revenue. By no surprise, a direct relationship existed between the performance of students and the wealth of their district. Under-staffed and under-funded, the quality of public schooling in poorer districts was indeed affecting the outcome of its students. Steps were finally taken to bridge this gap when legislation was enacted in 1993 by the state of Texas to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state. The aptly nicknamed “Robin Hood” program aspired to bring equity to every Texas school by recapturing property tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts and redistributing it to those in property-poor districts.

Debate over the effectiveness of this policy has taken place since its initiation. On one hand, some argue that the main purpose of the Robin Hood refinancing program has been fulfilled – deeming it successful in substantially equalizing a significant percentage of Texas school district’s spending per student. Investigation by the Texas Center for Education Research and Texas Association of School Boards has concluded that after the reform, “90 percent of students in Texas are in school systems...
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