Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latino Students Play Pivotal Role in Texas School Funding Case

As Texas’ school funding system went on trial this week, former state demographer Steve Murdock testified in court on Tuesday that the significant challenges ahead facing Latino children require a greater investment from the state.

The Legislature cut more than $5.4 billion from the education budget last year, representing a cut of $500 per student, reported the Dallas Morning News. At the same time, the state has phased in more rigorous standards and tougher exams.  Hundreds of districts sued the state, demanding more adequate funding.

About 53 percent of Texas public school children are now Latino. They also are much more likely to come from poor families, requiring greater investment from the state, Murdock argued.

“Our future is increasingly tied to the minority population–how well they do in terms of education will determine how well Texas does in the future” Murdock said, according to a report in the Morning News.

Murdock listed off the demographic changes the state is experiencing: over the last decade the white student population dropped by 10 percent and the Hispanic population increased by 50 percent. By 2050, he estimates that Texas public school students will be about 64 percent Latino and 15.5 percent white.

As Texas students become more Hispanic, they also are becoming poorer and more in need of academic and financial support. About 27 percent of Texas Latinos live below the poverty line–compared with 9.5 percent of whites.

Murdock has played a key role in Texas for years as a figure who has called attention to the fact that the educational outcomes for Latinos must improve for the state to stay economically strong in the future. He once told the Texas Tribune that given the state’s demographics, “the Texas of today is the U.S. of tomorrow.”