Texas: Where They Really Have Their Priorities Straight

High school football season is now in high gear, and nowhere is high school football more important than it is in the Lone Dope state of Texas.

High school football?  VERY important.  High school education?  Not as.

According to the publication Education Week, Texas ranks 43rd in the country in education quality.

One possible reason for this is that Texas doesn’t spend a whole lot on public education, at least compared to other places.  According to an article in the El Paso Times,

In school finance, Texas ranked 45th in the nation, earning a D grade based on per pupil spending, state spending as a percent of taxable resources, and other factors.

 Texas ranked 49th in the country in per pupil spending, taking into account regional cost differences, according to the report,  Texas spent $7957 per student, well below the national average of $11,667 per student, according to the report.

The states that rank behind Texas?  Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, Alabama, Idaho, New Mexico, Mississippi and Nevada.  That’s understandable:  places like Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi are dirt poor.  But Texas?

Not so poor.  Texas is right in the middle of the pack in average annual income:  25th in the country,  As you might imagine, Texas has a lot of very rich people:  35 of the Forbes 400, all of them billionaires.  In fact, a bunch of Texas billionaires don’t even make the Forbes 400 list.

So it’s not like Texas doesn’t have a solid tax base.  And of course there’s all that oil and all that oil money.

You know:  oil money.  Black gold.  Texas tea.

So if Texans are doing okay in the pay department and okay in the rich folks department, why isn’t it doing better in the investing in public education department?

More specifically, if it’s not spending money on public education, what is it spending public money on?

Well, as it turns out, it’s spending big on one aspect of public education:

Football stadiums for public high schools.

As reported by the online publication citylab.com, Texas’s McKinney Independent School District is currently building an $87 million football stadium for its team.

That’s $87 million.

$87,000,000.

A dollar sign, 87, and six zeroes.

Among the amenities $87 million buys:  a 55-foot-wide high definition scoreboard.

This stadium, by the way, will replace a stadium that was renovated just ten years ago at a cost of $10 million.  The new stadium will seat 12,000 – an interesting decision considering that during the 2015 football season the current stadium, with only 10,000 seats, was never even half full for a single game.

But McKinney didn’t blaze this trail; it’s only following in the footsteps of others – but going bigger.

Because going bigger is the Texas way.

In 2004 the school district in Plano opened a $20 million football stadium with 9800 seats.

Four years ago, the Allen independent school district opened an 18,000 seat stadium.  The price tag:  $72 million.

The Curmudgeon understands that high school football is a very big deal in Texas.  Yes, a lot of people saw the movie Friday Night Lights and watched the television show of the same name.  The Curmudgeon, of course, took a different path:  he read the book before there even was a movie or a television show.

The purpose of high school, though, is to teach kids who are soon going to be called upon to vote, to work, and to raise children.  It’s more important to teach these kids than it is to build palaces for the fun and games that come after school and are incidental to their education.  Spending tens of millions of dollars on football stadiums for teenagers is foolish, and it suggests yet another way that too many Texans have warped priorities.

But then, warped thinking and warped priorities often come to mind when we think of Texas, don’t they?

 

 

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