Friday, March 07, 2008

Suddenly "RobinHood" is Unfair

For 15 years the state of Texas has followed a "Robin Hood" model of school funding whereby the wealthier districts hand over a portion of their tax receipts to poorer districts. This plan was put in place to achieve the state's mandated policy of equal funding across Texas schools.

Unfortunately the current plan goes much further than the state goal of funding equality, and results in a system where wealthier and whiter districts (yes, whiter) end up with less funding than poor districts with higher concentration of minority students. The existing plan is a liberal wealth redistributor's dream, a utopian state where suburban elementary schools in districts such as Clear Creek ISD are opened with no playground equipment, no perimeter fencing, and very limited technology resources.

But this dream has become a nightmare for many in the Houston ISD when it was recently discovered the district would actually have to pay into the state this year, as opposed to receiving Robin Hood funds. In other words, HISD now qualifies as a wealthy district due to recent property value increases combined with a dropping enrollment.

So how do the wealth redistribution advocates at HISD respond? Do they happily write their check in support of poor districts? Unfortunately, no. Not only is HISD upset that they'll be writing a $3.7 million check this year, they're actually advocating changing the rules! After 15 years of receiving funds from wealthier districts, suddenly the plan doesn't make sense. Now, HISD is advocating that districts benefit from increasing property values in their own district.

For 15 years, HISD happily cashed their Robin Hood check with no regard for suburban kids, who realized no benefit from increasing property values in their own districts. Now that their beloved funding model results in no receipts from other districts, suddenly the model is deemed broken.

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