September 26, 2006

To the editor of the Austin American Statesman:

8 Billion Dollars.

Not 8 hundred thousand, or 8 million, but EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS.

This is what the Texas Lottery billboard campaign boasts along our Austin streets, and I, for one, would really like the Austin American Statesman to explain to me where that 8 BILLION DOLLARS has gone to improve our schools?

If this is the case, why have my property taxes doubled in 8 years, and why is it, on top of that, we parents in Barton Hills are being asked to give our elementary school an additional $160 per child to help educate our children? Why are all Texas PTAs still having bake sales, carnivals, and running ourselves ragged to help our kids? Where is all this amazing money going because it is NOT GOING TO THE SCHOOLS!!!

Between the school taxes we are already paying, and the $8 BILLION DOLLARS,
I would think Texas lower education schools would be able to give teachers a well-deserved pay raise, and our art, music and physical education teachers would be able to provide their quality gifts daily, instead of partially, to each school they work within.

On the Texas Education Agency site, they list that there are 7,956 school campuses in the state of Texas. If you divide the number of schools into the $8 BILLION DOLLAR amount the Texas Lottery is boasting, each school should have received $100,533.04, or $12,566.63 each year for 8 years.

And, while I’m at it, let me say this to Rick Perry: shame on you. Do you think boasting that $2000 per teacher is a raise? After taxes, a teacher is lucky to take home an additional $130 a month, or $41.66 a week. I’ve seen our teachers working: they teach from a place of passion, they want our kids to succeed, whether they are paid properly for their work or not. They show up early, stay after work and use their own monies to make sure their classes are prepared for a full day.

I think our government should show some humility. How about this: all of you public servants switch paychecks with teachers for a year, and you show up early and stay late because you want to make Texas the best state it can be, for all people, and spend your own monies to run your campaigns.

I’ll just keep asking questions until someone answers them….

$8 BILLION DOLLARS. Where’d it go?

Sara Hickman

5 Comments on “8 BILLION DOLLARS”

  • Jim


    The News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters in San Antonio investigated the question of how Texas lottery funds for education work. They agreed that the Lottery Commission has put in about $1 Billion yearly and claim that the state takes back about the same amount and puts it toward other projects. The WOAI report can be read at http://www.woai.com/troubleshooters/story.aspx?content_id=4AC144CF-0153-478A-831E-4B31CD8676BE . However, since the Texas education budget has increased from about $15 Billion in 1997 to about $22 Billion in 2005 it would be tough to say if the lottery money replaced other state funding or just reduced the amount of increase in state funding by $1 Billion per year. Hey, what’s a billion dollars among government friends?

  • Sander


    I agree with Gene. I’m pretty sure the money just goes into the general fund and isn’t earmarked.

  • Gene


    My bet: if the budget for schools is $10 billion from the general coffers, and the lottery raises $8 billion, then the lege probably cuts the schools down to $2 billion and spends the extra elsewhere.
    I’ll bet that the lottery funds don’t supplement existing school funds, they replace them.
    But hey, at least people in Texas are spared the devastation of income taxes, eh? All those oil tycoons are making out like bandits.

  • Jim


    Sara, it’s even worse than you figured. $8 Billion over 7,956 schools is $1,005,330.42 or $125,691.30 per school each year for 8 years. The schools could have paid for art and music teachers and have money left over for some supplies or teacher bonuses. Sadly, only 50 cents of every dollar spent on schools in Texas goes to “classroom instruction”, which includes teacher salaries. In her article “Spending More Doesn’t Mean Getting More”, Peggy Venable states that school board superintendent salaries have increased 77% in 5 years (while teachers salaries increased about 17%) and she suggests that maybe it’s time to get rid of school boards and send the money directly to the schools. Or at least provide more parental choice, greater teacher autonomy and local control.

  • Delia


    You go Sara!

    Thank goodness we still have many dedicated teachers!!!! They are gems and have such an amazing effect!!!!!
    Unfortunatly, i see new teachers that are not prepared or capable (as most of us wouldn’t be!) to deal with the reality of the current conditions and either quit just before a nervous breakdown- or maybe after….and then on the other hand there are those teachers that need to move on because they have lost their passion to teach and are just there for the job, it seems. We don’t need either of these extremes for our children- “that loto money” or better yet, some more sane source for investment in Texas education- needs to (in addition to increasing incomes) needs to make classroom sizes smaller- so teachers can see each student as a unique human being more clearly and nurture the individual within a group dynamic- as much as possible)…yes to art, music, physical education (P.E.- that promotes general health and fun…. more than promoting organized sports)

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