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Fort Worth City Council Briefed on the State of Public Education

“How important do you think public education is to the health, safety, and welfare of our community?” In a presentation to the Fort Worth City Council on September 19, Pete Geren discussed this question with council members and shared data which painted the picture that Fort Worth area public school students are falling off the pace to remain at grade level in math and reading.

Geren shared that in the city of Fort Worth, there are 12 independent school districts with more than 140,000 students between them. In addition, more than 20,000 students attend public charter schools in Fort Worth. Of these more than 160,000 students, 56% of 3rd through 8th graders could not read at grade level, and 66% of 3rd through 8th graders could not do math at grade level.

Geren noted that it’s typical for school boards to be the ones who work on education policy, but shared survey response data from the Fort Worth community to demonstrate why the City Council should take an interest in local school performance as well.

According to a survey conducted by the Fort Worth Education Partnership:

  • 99% of Fort Worth residents believe it is important for our city to have good public schools
  • 99% believe the ability to read well is important after high school
  • 94% believe it is a civil right of every child in America to receive a high-quality public education
  • 89% believe the quality of local schools impacts economic development
  • 89% believe the quality of public schools impacts property values
  • 87% believe the quality of local schools impacts public safety
  • 79% consider the quality of local public schools when deciding where to live
  • 78% would give a school a “D” or “F” rating if only 25% of students could do math at grade level
  • 74% would give a school a “D” or “F” rating if only 38% of students could read at grade level

While school performance most directly impacts the students themselves and their families, the Fort Worth community believes they have a stake in student success as well. From business and economic development to workforce, property values, and public safety, Fort Worth area schools will shape the future of our community’s prosperity.

Geren indicated that many parents find themselves unaware of the fact that their student is not reading or doing math on grade level. In fact, he shared that nearly 90% of parents believe their child is at grade level. He said there is a discrepancy between what parents see on their student’s report card – which can be good grades – and the standardized test scores that indicate where their student is relative to grade level. Geren said the grade level information is much more difficult to find for parents.

In October the Texas Legislature will likely convene for a special session with an agenda focused on public education, potentially exploring policy issues such as education savings accounts (vouchers), teacher pay, and base funding for public schools in Texas.

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