Predictably, as anticipation built over the huge Powerball payout this week, there was this headline on at least one TV station’s website: “Texas Schools Win Big in Powerball Jackpot.”
But not really. Texas’ under-funded schools are grateful for every dollar they can get. But the only big winners from the Powerball were the people who picked the right numbers, not the schools.
Powerball and the Texas Lottery generate a lot of big figures. But here is some perspective. Last year, the Texas Lottery, which is a partner in the multistate Powerball, contributed $1.2 billion to Texas public education through the Foundation School program. And Powerball alone generated $70 million for the schools since November.
But as Texas Education Agency spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe pointed out in an interview with KUT’s Texas Standard: “Our entire school system spends around $50 to $52 billion a year in all funds. So the lottery essentially covers one week of operating our 8,000-plus public schools.”
No, folks, not even a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot can take the governor and the legislative majority off the hook for a lackluster school funding performance.