Letter to the editor: more funds for education
As a former public school teacher, I understand very well that Texas cannot continue to flourish and grow without a first-rate system for educating the next generation of Texans. This starts with good parenting, continues through our public school system and applies all the way through our community colleges and universities.
Texas has experienced incredible growth over the last decade. Fiscally conservative policies have allowed the Texas economy to flourish, and as a result, people are coming to Texas in droves. Texas’ universities have also been growing. The University of North Texas has grown by more than 15 percent in the last 10 years, and right down the road, Texas Women’s University has grown by an astronomical 91 percent since 2001, and our Corinth branch of North Central Texas College is expanding at a rapid pace. Growth is wonderful, but it comes with a cost. Our infrastructure was not designed for the growth we have seen over the past 15 years, and if Texas is to continue to grow and prosper, we must not only invest in our water and roads, but our education system as well.
In 2013, the Texas legislature invested in our water supply and highway infrastructures. Now it is time to invest in our higher education infrastructure. Gov. Abbott has called for increased funding for research, and there is wide support among Democrats and Republicans to invest in university infrastructure by financing the construction of much needed buildings, classrooms, and laboratories. I fully support investing in higher education by giving our universities the funding they need for expansion.
Another topic of conversion is the growing cost of tuition at Texas’ public schools. My four sons all earned degrees from Texas public universities, and my husband and I spent years writing tuition checks. I can say from first-hand experience that the increase in tuition over the years has been dramatic. The growing cost of education is a burden to families and students across the state and must be addressed. Universities need to look at how and where they are spending, students must be vigilant about their loan obligations and legislators should not push unfunded mandates on our universities.
The Hazelwood Act requires universities to provide free tuition for veterans and their family members. It is a well-deserved benefit that was hard won by our veterans and an idea that I support. However, the legislature did not fully fund the cost of Hazelwood and it has been left to universities to make up the difference. The end result is inevitably higher tuition for everyone else.
I believe we have a great opportunity this Session. Texas is well positioned to invest in our roads, our water supply and our education infrastructure. The House of Representatives released its initial budget and funds for higher education are $239 million over 2014-2015 with enrollment growth fully funded. This will be a solid investment to build a stronger and better Texas for our children and grandchildren.
State Rep. Myra Crownover is a Republican from District 64, the district encompassing UNT.
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