Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

The Observer talks to now-retired Judge John Dietz about school finance reform

A brief taste:

Former Judge John Dietz

One really important point, which was certainly not addressed [by the Supreme Court]: With economically disadvantaged students, the undisputed testimony is that if you didn’t grow up economically disadvantaged, when you arrived at school you had roughly a 1,500-word vocabulary and understood probably another 1,000 words. An economically disadvantaged child shows up knowing 500 words or less. What do you do about that?

The undisputed testimony is that it takes about time and a half over a period of four to six years to overcome the poverty of their experience. And you do it through preschool. You try to get them into a learning situation before kindergarten. When they’re in school, you try to have after-school programs, you try to pull their parents in to see the school not as an enemy but as a friend. You try to have summer programs that are not just remedial but try and get them excited about education. Because it’s the economically disadvantaged people who are substantially all of the dropouts that you lose beginning in eighth grade and ninth grade. And is the Legislature doing anything about that?

It’s undisputed, it takes 50 percent more of the resources to educate an economically disadvantaged child; 60 percent of our population in this state is currently economically disadvantaged and it’s only getting worse.

Go read the whole thing. If it makes you angry, it should.

Related Posts:


  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Maybe we should take one step back, and try to figure out why 60% of the population is economically disadvantaged, and why the economically disadvantaged keep having more kids that they can’t support and seemingly don’t care to educate.

    A good start would be to start deporting illegal aliens, a move that would return many kids to their own countries of origin, as well as reduce the numbers of economically disadvantaged kids going forward, as deported women give birth in their home countries.

  2. C.L. says:

    Bill, you’ve officially jumped the shark.

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    Is it really wrong to delve into WHY there are so many economically disadvantaged kids in Texas? Shouldn’t there be a conversation with people who cannot afford kids to wait until they can afford to pay for kids to have them? I ask, because right now the only conversation taking place is between the government passing out freebies and the taxpayers who are paying for them, and that’s not really a conversation, more of a demand, as in, “pay up, so we can pay for the irresponsible and unfortunate.”

    I actually support the pre-K program, which is the point of the post. I’m just saying that maybe we get a better bang for our education buck by reducing the number of kids in poverty to begin with.