By Dr. Jerry R. Burkett
It’s 1991 and the New York Giants win the Super Bowl 20-19 after a missed Buffalo Bills field goal. Seinfeld debuted on TV, "Dances with Wolves" won Best Picture, and the U.S. minimum wage goes from $3.80 to $4.25 per hour. Gas prices average $1.12, a new house will cost you $120,000, and the average person makes around $29,430 per year.
That was also the year the state of Texas updated its Cost of Education Index (CEI).Today, gas averages $3.36, the New York Giants have won two more Super Bowls, and minimum wage is $7.25. The average home will cost you $152,000, Seinfeld has been off the air for 15 years and now rules syndication, the average salary in the United States is $46,326 and Kevin Costner hasn’t made a decent movie since (unless you actually liked Waterworld).
Yet the state of Texas still uses the same Cost of Education Index that was developed in 1991.The CEI is the complicated formula system that Texas uses as a basis to distribute education funding to the 1,024 school districts. That’s right – the education of Texas’ students is based on a 24-year old funding formula. The students taught in Texas schools were not even born when the CEI was last updated.
Aside from the obvious changes in costs that come over more than two decades, a lot has also changed in Texas schools since 1991.
- There were 3,378,318 students enrolled in public schools in 1990-91. Today there are 4,978,120. A 47.35% increase.
- In 1989, 24.3% of Texas children were living in poverty. In 2011, that number has risen to 30%.
- As late as 1994, 46% of Texas students were on free or reduced lunch; that increased to 60.4% in 2011.
- Students enrolled in bilingual/ESL programs have increased from 9.7% in 1992 to 16.2% in 2011.