Is said to be the most intractable policy problem in the state of Texas. In 1984 the Edgefield School District sued William Kirby, the Texas commissioner of education, to equalize school funding between districts with greater and lesser property values. The cause of action was that school spending was uneven and effected the quality of education. Nine years of litigation and legislative action followed. Since 1993 the “Robin Hood” program has redistributed property tax revenues from “rich” to “poor” districts in order to equalize funding. There is a very complicated formula to determine the redistribution.
School spending varies widely. The national average is $11,598./student/year. Washington, D.C. spends the most at $19,903. Utah spends the least at $6,922. Texas is just a bit below the average at $10,021. From 1970 to 2010, the total cost of K-12 education nationally per student increased from $57, 602. to $164,426 AFTER INFLATION! Student achievement did not improve significantly in this 40 year period in spite of this massive increase in spending.
So what does Texas get for $10,021./student/year? Statewide, 89% of students graduate. 49% are rated proficient in mathematics. 45% are rated proficient in reading. However, there are huge differences between school districts in both spending and results.
Webb County Independent School District has the honor of spending the most per student per year at $54,469. Laredo Independent School District, inside the city limits, spends $10,538. What do the taxpayers get for their money? Webb County has a student-teacher ratio of 10:1. Laredo has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1. 45% of Webb County students are proficient in mathematics, 40 % in reading. Laredo, on the other hand has 50% proficiency in mathematics and 50% in reading. 97% of Webb County students are Hispanic, versus 99% in Laredo. 80% of Webb County students graduate, versus 94% in Laredo. In short, Laredo Independent School District gets noticeably better results than Webb County while spending less than one fifth the money.
Two scholars from the Brookings Institution (Emiliana Vega and Chelsea Coffin) found in 2015 that when education systems spend above $8,000./student/year “the association between student learning and per student spending is no longer statistically significant.” (Comparative Education Review)
Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time after time and expecting different results. Our current system of public schools is hugely expensive, yet fails to educate the majority of students.
Many parents have turned to private schools or home schooling after the public schools suspended classroom teaching this spring. The majority of private schools spend less money per pupil than our public schools. A school voucher of $8,000./ student/year would allow many more parents to choose either a private school for their children that would better meet their children’s needs and the parents’ expectations or home schooling. This voucher amount is over $2,000. less than the public schools spend per student now. I would not wish any state requirements for the use of the voucher, except for annual testing. Individual test scores should be available to the parents and school scores (median, average, high and low) should be published. This way parents would know how well their children are progressing. I believe that the same voucher amount should be available to home schoolers with the same testing requirement.
Private schools have proven to be more efficient all over the world. The children of the Chinese Politboro attend private schools, as did Chelsea Clinton, the Bush daughters, and the Obama daughters. I believe that ordinary parents and children should have the same choices.
By Julian MarDock
Deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country is the oldest shooting club in America. New Braunfels Schuetzen Verein (shooting club) held its first prize shoot July fourth, 1849. It carries on a much older tradition. Shooting clubs in Germany predate the gun. King Henry I of Germany began sanctioning Schuetzen clubs the early 900. The tradition was not limited to Germany as other clubs were formed in Bohemia and Switzerland. These early competitors used crossbows as in the Swiss legend of William Tell.
The gun was invented in China, where the Ming rebels used the gun to overthrow some of the greatest warriors in history, the Mongols. When the gun was introduced in Europe, schuetzen clubs adopted the gun for their competitions. Germans then invented the rifled barrel around 1500 which was greatly improved by August Kotter in 1520 in Nuremburg.
The Schuetzen rifle arrived in America, brought here by German immigrants to Pennsylvania. Unknown to the military authorities of the day, the accuracy and utility of the “Pennsylvania” rifle was discovered by American frontiersmen. Rifles were made in smaller calibers with longer barrels to get more efficient combustion and greater economy of powder and lead in the wilderness, far from resupply. These were the Kentucky rifles that won the American Revolution and later the West. The first time the armies of the world saw rifles was when Daniel Morgan and his backwoodsmen brought theirs to help lift the siege of Boston in 1775. British and Mexican armies learned about the dangers of attacking Americans behind walls at New Orleans and Texas.
The New Braunfels Schuetzen Verein was chartered in Germany as part of the preparations for emigration to the wilds of Texas. Practice with rifle competition was deemed useful for defense and hunting.
In its 171-year history, NBSV members have competed with muzzleloading and centerfire cartridge rifles as they became available. There have been at least five ranges and clubhouses. In the early years these were located within the city limits. Today, the range and clubhouse are located just outside the city limits.
After World War I, .22-rimfire competition at 100 yards began along with the standard centerfire cartridges at 200 yards. Before 2002 it was iron sights only for those under 70. Today the club holds competitions for both scope as well as iron sights in .22 rimfire only shooting at 100 yard targets. There was talk this year at the annual scheduling meeting of having one competition with deer rifles offhand at a metal silhouette, 200 yards.
Shooters may enter either offhand or “rest” stances. Slings and shooting jackets are not permitted in offhand shooting although a palm rest is allowed.
The rest consists of a metal bar with two spikes designed to stick in a plywood board with different heights for the shooters. This might be said to be like shooting out a cabin window.
The club slogan is, “Where Friendly Shooters Gather”. The club holds practice shoots that begin at 2 PM on Sunday, late enough for church and a change of clothes.
Members may shoot modern competition bolt-action rifles as well as antique falling block rifles. Some of the antique rifles have been rebarrelled from centerfire calibers and many have been restocked and modified. Many of these older rifles have been passed down for generations or sold to newer members. Modern scopes compete with older Unertls. All of these combinations have found success. It is an ancient tradition of armed citizenship that has remained current through these changing times.
The season runs from March to October and visitors are welcome at all shoots. The website is www.nbsv.org. A calendar and club contact information is on the site.