Other Voices

Top business leaders’ plea: Texas must fund schools, literacy, for future workforce

Funding for low-income students gets more scarce while population rises

At West Handley Elementary School, principal Julie Moynihan makes hard choices on where to apply the meager amount of Title 1 money that her school receives.
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At West Handley Elementary School, principal Julie Moynihan makes hard choices on where to apply the meager amount of Title 1 money that her school receives.

As Gov. Greg Abbott said in his recent inaugural address, “We will put our students on a pathway to having all third-graders reading on grade level by the time they finish the third grade.”

Public school finance reform is the single most important priority to achieve in the upcoming legislative session. Our funding per student has not kept pace with the evolving needs of our student population, which reflect more students with higher needs than a decade ago.

This is particularly evident in our national literacy rankings, with Texas ranking 46th in early reading achievement according to the National Assessment of Academic Progress.

With Texas currently ranking 43rd in the U.S. in public education funding per student, we cannot underfund our needs and expect to create a workforce that ensures the statewide prosperity to which we’ve grown accustomed.

As such, we strongly urge the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker, along with all members of the Texas Legislature, to support the recent recommendations of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, which were unanimously agreed upon by a bipartisan group of legislators, community members and school district personnel.

In particular, we urge them to adopt the $780 million recommended per year for the third-grade reading allotment as well as the $400 million to reward districts that attain third grade reading targets, particularly for low-income students.

Unless we achieve these goals, the quality of our workforce will be insufficient to support the robust growth we’ve come to expect. The people of Texas deserve better!

Thank you in advance for your strong leadership.

Roger Staubach, Chairman & CEO, 15 Partners; Joe DePinto, President & CEO, 7-Eleven, Inc; Jere W. Thompson, Jr., CEO, Ambit Energy; Doug Parker, Chairman & CEO, American Airlines.

Cynthia Comparin, CEO, Animato; Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T, Inc.; David B. Walls, President & CEO, Austin Industries; Norm Bagwell, CEO, Bank of Texas.

Jody Grant, Chairman & Partner, BankCap Partners Chairman Emeritus, Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc.; Key Coker, Dallas CEO, BBVA Compass; Matt Rose, Executive Chairman, BNSF.

Wyman Roberts, CEO & President, Brinker International President, Chili’s Grill & Bar; David Michel, President & CEO, Catapult Health; Mark Rohr, Chairman & CEO, Celanese; Daniel J. Healy, CEO, Civitas Capital Group.

Ralph W. Babb, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Comeria Bank; David Corrigan, CEO, Corrigan Investments Inc.; Harlan Crow, Chairman, Crow Holdings.

Fred Perpall, Chairman, Dallas Citizens Council; David Seaton, Chairman and CEO, Fluor Corp.; John Goff, Chairman, Goff Capital, Inc. & Crescent Real Estate.

Linda W. Hart, Vice-Chairman, President & CEO, Hart Group, Inc.; Milledge A. Hart III, Chairman, Hart Group, Inc.; Ray L. Hunt, Executive Chairman, Hunt Consolidated, Inc.

Bill Addy, Executive Chairman, ISN; Elaine Agather, Chairman, JPMorgan Chase, Dallas; Steve Van Amburgh, CEO, KDC Real Estate Development & Investments.

Bobby B. Lyle, Founder & Chairman, Lyco Holdings Inc.; David Holl, Chairman & CEO, Mary Kay Inc.; Albert C. Black, Jr., Chairman, On-Target Supplies & Logistics, Ltd.

Preston McAfee, Chairman, Rogers-O’Brien Construction; Carl Sewell, Chairman, Sewell Automotive Companies; Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Southwest Airlines.

Harold MacDowell, CEO, TDIndustries; Ronald A. Rittenmeyer, Executive Chairman & CEO, Tenet Healthcare Corporation; Peter Beck, Executive Chairman, The Beck Group.

Edward P. Bass, Chairman & CEO, The Fine Line Group; Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman, The Perot Companies & Hillwood; Schuyler Marshall, Chairman of the Board, The Rosewood Corporation.

Timothy R. Wallace, Chairman, CEO & President, Trinity Industries, Inc.; Bob Rowling, CEO, TRT Holdings; Paul Andrews, CEO, TTI, Inc.; Steve Becker, CEO, Tuesday Morning; John Scovell, Chairman, Woodbine Development Corp.