Fall 2023 - 60975 - PA 680PA - Policy Research Project


Instructor: Greg Cumpton

Client: Relevant Texas School Districts and/or Supporting Organizations (TBD)

Ideal for: Students interested in education policy, education finance, equity, and efficiency.

Travel: None

Meets: Thursday 2-5PM

Skills: No special skills required

The Texas constitution's Article 7 requires that the legislature "make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools." This Policy Research Project (PRP) seeks to ask whether the current system of K-12 school finance provides an 'efficient system of public free schools,' as required by law.

Students in this course will examine the Texas K-12 school finance system, learn historical context around legal challenges to this system, and utilize publicly available data to develop and analyze measures of equity and efficiency to answer the research question.

Students in this course will also engage with school district staff and members of supporting organizations to learn: (1) how the system of finance impacts district decision making and fiscal allocations including the use of bonds, (2) how districts advocate for themselves within the Texas legislature and through other governmental bodies, and (3) other fiscal challenges faced by districts leading to new approaches (e.g., passing a bond measure to raise funds to support housing for teachers). Students will also learn the perspectives of charter schools, both those authorized by their local school district or the state authorization office.

The first semester will focus on learning the complexities of how Texas funds public education, the policy environment around fiscal allocations, and introduces relevant publicly available fiscal and performance data. The first semester will also focus on the definitions of both equity and efficiency and their relative perspectives related to education. The second semester will focus on learning about and developing measures of equity and efficiency using publicly available data and applying developed measures to  answering client- and student-generated questions. Students will produce a final report, providing recommendations for future legislative and district actions related to school finance which they will present to a select group of Texas school district staff and superintendents.

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