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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

New Report Warns the State of Texas Is Neglecting Its Kids

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2018 at 10:52 AM

click to enlarge Schoolchildren engage in a San Antonio Food Bank educational program. - MEGAN RODRIGUEZ
  • Megan Rodriguez
  • Schoolchildren engage in a San Antonio Food Bank educational program.
Texas children face high rates of poverty, health risk and educational inequality, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities' newly released State of Texas Children report.

Compounding the issue, they're likely to go underrepresented for federal programs designed to help, according to the Center's research. Some 30 percent of kids under the age of five live in communities likely to be undercounted in the 2020 Census.

That's a problem because one in five Texas children live in poverty
. Also, 9 percent of the state's children remain uninsured, even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

What's more, the state's cuts to education funding don't exactly create an easy escape route from those dire economic situations. Compared to 2008, the state spends 21 percent less per student on programs to keep children on track for success, according to the report.

And since the majority of school funding now comes from local property taxes, students in districts with the lowest property wealth now face significant disadvantages to those in richer districts.

To improve the outlook for Texas kids, the report recommends lawmakers implement policies that improve workers' pay, expand healthcare access and consider race-equity tools when creating legislation that affects children.

In addition, it recommends the legislature, which convenes in January, overhaul the state's school-finance system and create a committee to ensure all Texans are counted in the 2020 Census.

We'll see if the lege decides to undertake such drastic priority shifts during the next session. Given the ongoing Republican control of both houses and the drumbeat to lower property taxes, Texas' children may once again end up at the back of the line.

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