The culture that is Texas high school football

by on September 18, 2016 at 12:51 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Education, Political Science, Sports | Permalink

After Texas high school builds $60-million stadium, rival district plans one for nearly $70 million

Need I say more?  I will nonetheless:

In Frisco, which neighbors Allen and McKinney, the district will pay $30 million over several years to use the Dallas Cowboys’ new 12,000-seat practice field for high school football and soccer games, as well as graduation ceremonies.

Here is a nice bit of fiscal illusion:

In McKinney [one of the stadium-building districts], school taxes for property owners amount to $1.63 per $100 of assessed valuation. The tax rate had been higher in the recent past, but it fell 5 cents this year, partly because the district had dropped some old debt. Because of the 5-cent decrease, district officials repeatedly note, property owners will see their taxes go down, even as the new stadium goes up.

Jim Buchanan would be proud.  And it’s a good thing we have the public sector to protect us from negative-sum status-seeking games!

The original pointer is from Adam Minter.

1 Mark Thorson September 18, 2016 at 1:03 pm

I thought Texas was supposed to be a low-tax state. Not low enough, it seems.

2 mulp September 18, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Clearly Texans are radical leftist big government tax and spend liberals.

3 DelRio September 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Yup Pardner, most Texans are leftists— they just don’t realize it.

In Texas & American public schools, very important ‘values’ (like football) are determined by legions of education administrators, bureaucrats, and NEA lemmings. You would be hard-pressed to find a better example of socialist/leftist ideology in action than our extravagant, compulsory Texas & American public school system.

The solution is to privatize all schools, as Milton Friedman strongly advocated.

Let parents decide their own educational values and directly control/fund that pursuit.

(“Always drink upstream of the herd” — Cowboy Proverb)

4 Cliff September 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Not property taxes

5 Cliff September 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Home prices are low though, which is a big reason why the rates are high

6 The Lunatic September 18, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Though even then Texas doesn’t manage to make the top decile in effective property tax rate for owner-occupied housing — you’d pay more in New Jersey, Illinois, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Wisconsin.

7 Texan September 18, 2016 at 1:03 pm

As a Texan, that seems right, football is religion down here(God, guns, football, bbq is the stereotype)

Now that it’s fall, Fri night: high-school football, Sat: college football, Sun: pro football, Mon: back to work…

8 TheAJ September 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Is there any sort of countercurrent against football at all going on there? Speaking as a former suburban Californian and a New Yorker, nearly 100% of the people I know are all a firm no on letting their kids play football.

9 Other Texas September 18, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Other than the ex-suburban Californians and New Yorkers moving here, no.

10 Pshrnk September 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Californians and New Yorkers are conservative 😉 They want to conserve their cerebral cortices. People usually do not become conservative until they have something to conserve.

11 Mark Thorson September 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

I don’t know how Trump got elected. Nobody I know voted for him.

12 TheAJ September 18, 2016 at 6:34 pm

What a weird respond. I openly admitted my bubble and was generally curious to understand thoughts in another region of the US.

Football participation flatlined after fast growth in the early part of the millennium and has been declining.

13 Robert ✓ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ September 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Talk is cheap. It’s easy to be not let your kid play football if your kid is a girl, is too young to play, is too young to argue with your dictacts, or has no desire to play, which is the vast majority of kids. But when his kid wants to play, is the SWPL going to forbid it? I don’t think so. SWPLs want very much for their sons to be popular and, as far as parenting goes, they tend to be pushovers. My cousin is a high school football coach who lives in a very SWPL part of the country. I asked him if he’s having any trouble filling his team. He said no. Has the team declined in quality, as you’d expect if lots of potential football players were being held back? He said no.

I’m no fan of the game, but I think those who predict its demise are mistaken. So long as men want to watch football and women want to have sex with football players, the sport will be popular.

14 TheAJ September 18, 2016 at 7:09 pm

That’s a cute story but football participation is down in the US (though not evenly, hence my inquiring). Many prominent athletes such as Adrian Peterson and Lebron James have forbidden football until at least high school. At that point the child may have other sports interests or may just not have enough interest in football.

I don’t know if you ever played football in high school, but there are so many teams and the rosters are huge, with so many bench players who are just doing it either trying to pass time, please their parents by playing a sport who rarely ever see the field. They might lose interest as well.

Of course football is popular, and will be popular for a long time, not denying that. But its not invincible.

15 Pshrnk September 18, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Texas: Maiming another generation of young Americans.

16 zztop September 18, 2016 at 11:23 pm

You mean Monday back to work for 5 days of Fantasy Football at the office.

17 Ken Rhodes September 19, 2016 at 6:45 am

“As a Texan, that seems right, football is religion down here.”

Hmmm…then it looks like our Constitution bars any government involvement in football. 😉

18 Mark Bahner September 19, 2016 at 6:28 pm

“Mon: back to work…”

But at least there’s Monday Night Football. 🙂

19 The Other Jim September 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm

A local municipality, gather taxes locally, and spending it on things that the locals want? Things that you find silly?

Oh no. Make it stop.

Maybe we should hike up Federal taxes so they can’t do this. Then we can fund studies about how the incarcerated transgendered will be affected by Global Warming.

20 Jan September 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm

My interpretation of local is basically my one block in suburbia. If we, as a block, decide to gather taxes and spend it on things we like, so be it. But I don’t want the big government folks down at city hall trying to shove city taxes down my throat and spend the spoils on bbq programs that almost nobody on my block enjoys. Keep it local.

21 y81 September 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Meh, I think the community of one single high school qualifies as a local group. To the extent that your are outvoted in a group of that size, it’s very easy to move to another suburb that supports an indigenous people’s museum, or whatever you want your tax dollars spent on. So you have an easy exit, to the extent that your voice is in a minority.

22 Pshrnk September 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Maybe the sport should be done as a club; rather than spending tax dollars on an activity with large externalities.

23 Robert ✓ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ September 18, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Spending vast sums is usually justified on grounds that it’s a public good that the market cannot provide and where everyone benefits. It would be easy to impose the entirety of the cost on the “beneficiaries,” pay for it by charging the spectators for entry. But then each spectator would shoulder a larger share of the burden, much better to spread the burden onto non-spectators.

24 Ken Rhodes September 19, 2016 at 6:49 am

Right. …and later we’ll come up with some rationale for characterizing football as a public good.

Hey. If Art Modell could do it, why not some high school districts in Texas?

25 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm

It is sad. As Nixon famously pointed out (https://books.google.com.br/books?id=YMdLA9kJdtcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:%22Richard+Nixon%22&hl=pt-PT&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=baseball&f=false), in 1991, Denver spent more money getting a major Baseball League than the USA spent helping its Polish ally to make its transition to Capitalism. Baseball! It is not even a real sport. Denver!
While Americans enjoy their modern gladiator games and, hurl offenses at their loyal allies and obsess about next quarter’s earnings, the world collapses around them, brought down by the triumphant march of those mighty beasts, the Russian bear and the Chinese dragon. As Mr. Reagan said in 1964, when all is done and amost all is said, “history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening”.

26 Ray Lopez September 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Good points made, but keep in mind that once the Iron Curtain fell, there was no incentive for the USA to help Poland. It’s water under the bridge. However, during the Cold War I read a proposal from some think tank to bribe Poland’s ruling communist class to defect from the Soviet Union, for the sum of $100 billion (which back then was like $200B now).

This ‘water-under-the-bridge’ or ‘spelt milk’ thinking is common in marginal economics, but it’s wrong IMO. For that reason I think the government should give ex post invention monies for worthy inventions, even if they have not been patented.

27 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2016 at 2:05 pm

“‘Also, I paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The worth of a bull is little, but Bagheera’s honor is something that he will perhaps fight for,’ said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.
‘A bull paid ten years ago!’ the Pack snarled. ‘What do we care for bones ten years old?’
‘Or for a pledge?’ said Bagheera, his white teeth bared under his lip. ‘Well are ye called the Free People!'” — Kipling’s The Jungle Book
Yeah, the “Free People” has already devoured Poland, Ukraine and the others. Why should it care about them anymore? It is sad.

28 8 September 18, 2016 at 1:55 pm

America is the world’s #1 arms dealer. A pullback in military spending and abdication of Pax Americana cuts government spending and increases exports.

29 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2016 at 2:09 pm

It is being “penny wise and pound foolish. Americans will soon learn that (to quote the old chiche) they have sold a rope they will be hanged with. But then it will be too late. Too late.

30 Ken Rhodes September 19, 2016 at 6:53 am

Thiago, you raise an interesting point. But take care, my friend, in your disdain for baseball. You may raise the enmity of as true a bunch of fanatics who ever walked the Earth. (…and yes, I’m one of them.)

31 Thiago Ribeiro September 19, 2016 at 7:33 am

There is only one sport and Pelé is its prophet.

32 JC September 19, 2016 at 11:07 am

C’mon man, you really should give yourself the chance to see Michael Jordan play, that actually should be a human right by law.

33 Thiago Ribeiro September 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm

He did some interesting things, I recall, but you can’t compare him to the Athlete of the Century. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pel%C3%A9#Honours
As Pelé Himself pointed out, there can’t be another Pelé for the same reason there won’t be another Michelangelo.

34 JWatts September 19, 2016 at 12:32 pm

“Denver spent more money getting a major Baseball League than the USA spent helping its Polish ally to make its transition to Capitalism”

How much money did Brazil send to Poland?

35 Thiago Ribeiro September 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Not as much as we would have liked. Brazil in 1991 was suffering one of the biggest recessions of its history thanks to the failure of the US-backed military regime. Of course Brazilians don’t own — and never intended to– a multicontinental empire (Brazil never fought a war of aggression).

36 msgkings September 19, 2016 at 10:44 pm

That’s because the US decimated Brazil’s military in The Great Southern War of 1891 and they never recovered.

37 Thiago Ribeiro September 20, 2016 at 5:51 am

No, it is not true. In 1891, Brazil crushed a military uprising and defeated the British aggressor.

38 msgkings September 20, 2016 at 11:30 am

You continue to spread perfidious Brazilian lies. But I sympathize with a proud Brazilian wishing to hide the humiliation of 1891 from the world.

39 Ray Lopez September 18, 2016 at 1:52 pm

TC makes reference to Public Choice Jim Buchanan, who was aware of the Tiebout model (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiebout_model). If you don’t like Texas, you can leave rather than live there! I personally prefer the Third World myself, but to each their own.

40 prior_test2 September 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

So some school in Texas is building a stadium? You would think that Prof. Cowen has lived long enough in Fairfax to be aware that a then rural county built a 10,000 thousand seat stadium back in the early 1960s. But then, W.T. Woodson also has a planetarium, so one could at least assume a better balance in public funds spent for sports and for astronomy in Fairfax County decades ago.

41 Mike September 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm

I live in Frisco, one of the 3 referenced cities mentioned in the post. While I am not a high school football fan, that is one windmill which I will not tilt against in Texas. It is interesting to see the choices and circumstances of the 3 cities. I can’t speak quite as much for Allen and McKinney though they both border on Frisco. All 3 are undergoing rapid growth.

To give you a feel for what rapid looks like the Frisco school district had about 9,300 students in 2001 when I move to town. In 2016 it has almost 57,000 students. http://www.friscoisd.org/about/district-overview/fast-growth

Frisco’s growth is a little bit faster than the other 2 but all are growing very quickly. The school districts have taken different approaches to their schools. Allen for instance has a single high school with a student body of 4,700+ students while Frisco has chosen the “small school model” which means that we have gone from 1 to 9 high schools while I have lived here with each designed for a student body of approximately 2,000 students. I think McKinney has chosen to follow the Allen model.

On the football field front as a result, both McKinney and Allen have or are building a single very large stadium dedicated to the single very large high school. Alternatively Frisco has chosen to have enough fields for many simultaneous games going on. As a result Frisco is now up to 3 stadiums. The oldest being the one that was built back when there was 1 high school. The next oldest being the home field of the FC Dallas MLS soccer team where the district contributed significant money to its construction in return for usage rights, but not ownership and most recently the referenced $30 million contribution to the Ford Center (naming rights money to Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner, and not the school district) which gets rights for football and other uses but not ownership. As a result they now have probably the only 12,000 capacity domed stadium. A news story ( http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20160821-with-opening-of-cowboys-new-hq-the-star-in-frisco-the-best-is-here-today.ece )that I am sure has the most hyped version of the figures said:

“The price tag for the city-owned portion of the complex is more than $261.8 million. That figure includes the cost for the 12,000-seat stadium, two outdoor practice fields for the Cowboys, the plaza in front of the stadium and the underground parking garage. The city, its entities and the school district contributed $90 million. The rest has been funded by the Cowboys.

Next door is the team’s world headquarters. The retail area just south of the stadium — which will include the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor Walk — is expected to be completed early next year. After that is the opening of the Omni Frisco Hotel and then the Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy and Research at The Star.

Plans for the rest of the 91-acre site have yet to be announced. Once complete, the mixed-use project is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion. ”

So for Frisco there is a lot of other development tied to the stadium.

The final postscript to all of this is that there are complicated property tax rules in Texas that segregate taxes for capital improvements (bonds and debt service) from Maintenance and Operations. The first allows all revenue from local property tax to be used by the district, while revenue for M&O is partially taken out of the district to fund poorer school districts around the state. The day before the stadium opened there was a tax ratification election to approve an increase of the M&O tax rate. Many people were upset both with the money spent on the stadium and the district headquarters building and so voted down the measure. As a result the district is looking of ways to save money for next school year on the M&O side of the tax rate. Options under consideration range from raising class size, not opening several schools that were set to open next year with a faculty cost of about $4.6M per year and maybe charging fees for extra-curricular activities like Football, Band and Orchestra of $300 per student.

Many of the tax increase opponents have said that they think the school district should shift to something more like the big school model followed by our neighbors, so it will be an exciting time to see how this works out.

42 Thor September 19, 2016 at 3:12 am

+1, thanks

43 JC September 19, 2016 at 11:20 am

“Many of the tax increase opponents have said that they think the school district should shift to something more like the big school model followed by our neighbors, so it will be an exciting time to see how this works out.”

What about results, which district is doing better in academic and sports terms?

44 Mike September 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

How do you measure academic performance? I am sure there are professionals that argue over that question, but I looked for an available, but clearly imperfect proxy. The best I could come up with was from http://www.greatschools.org/ . Looking there I compared Allen High School with Centennial High School in Frisco. I chose Centennial as it is the 2nd oldest (2003 opening) and the one that my child would have gone to had they not opened a new high school with 9th graders only this year. She will be at the new one in several years.

Looking for a way to compare, I chose SAT/ACT scores. Clearly imperfect, but at least something that is common across both districts and around the country. On that basis, pretty much a wash:
Allen Frisco (Centennial)
SAT 1104 1108
ACT 24 24
SAT % 63%
ACT % 42% 61%

The percentage taking the SAT in Allen wasn’t listed and the % taking ACT at Centennial was higher, though I leave that to the reader to decide if it indicates anything.

On the sports front, I just looked at football since the original post was about the stadiums. Allen has won 2 state championships since I have lived in the area and gone undefeated into the playoffs several other times. Frisco has sent 1 team to the state football game (it wasn’t Centennial and I think they lost). Allen and Frisco, however both compete in different divisions based on size of schools a so they never play each other. I am sure if they did Allen would prevail.

45 Steven Kopits September 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Our tax rate in Princeton, New Jersey is 2.64%, as opposed to 1.63% in McKinney. And we don’t have a 12,000 seat stadium, either.

46 Robert ✓ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ ˢᵘᵖᵖᵒʳᵗᵉʳ September 18, 2016 at 3:59 pm

The northeast spends on what really matters, coddling bums and drug addicts.

47 The other jim September 18, 2016 at 7:01 pm

True. And as a bonus, you don’t even have to be a citizen.

48 Sean Brown September 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm

1.63% is not all-in. Only the school-district portion. There are additional county and city rates.

49 Todd September 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm

White, jock-sniffing, Negro-worshipping football fans are the lowest life-forms on the planet.

50 chuck martel September 18, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Fifteen year-old boys can’t legally buy or drive a car, be a part of real estate contracts, use drugs, smoke cigarettes, consume alcoholic beverages or vote but they can sign up for an athletic contest in which they don’t receive any of the admission fees and in which they are likely to receive some kind of permanent injury.

51 The other jim September 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

So apparently if they could buy cigarettes you’d be fine with the arrangement?

52 Cliff September 18, 2016 at 11:46 pm

It would make more sense

53 Larry Roberts September 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm

“Here is a nice bit of fiscal illusion”
Sigh. The illusion is not apparent to me.

54 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm

This is exactly what makes it an illusion.

55 jeff September 19, 2016 at 9:32 am

The point is there is no way taxes can go down while massive new expenses are added on, either: (1) taxes could have been lowered even more, (2) taxes were raised in some other non-obvious or mentioned way to bring in revenue.

56 Bubba the Offensive Lineman September 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Jeff, as a Plano resident (directly South of Frisco) I can tell you that you are correct. The McKinney school district can brag about cutting taxes but they’ll still be bringing in higher revenues because property valuations are skyrocketing. This is another reason for failure of the Frisco school tax increase that Mike mentioned earlier in the thread. Frisco residents are already paying more due to increasing valuations, so they didn’t feel like they should have to see their rate increase also.

57 Alan September 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I’d be interested to match per capita expenditure on football stadiums with percentage of people who know that the earth orbits the sun.

58 Thiago Ribeiro September 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm

It does?!

59 Thor September 19, 2016 at 3:15 am

Yep. Started doing that about 6000 years ago.

60 Ken Rhodes September 19, 2016 at 7:05 am

Sumbich! I liked it better the old way. It was easier to comprehend, and it seemed like a closer fit to my personal observations.

Under the theory of Local Rule, I’m circulating a petition among my neighbors to put an initiative on our next ballot (the one where we vote for School Board) to return our district to the old way.

61 Thiago Ribeiro September 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

The sun orbits Brazil.

“Congratulations, O Brazilians,
Already, with viril garb
From the Universe among Nations
Shines brightly that of Brazil.
From the Universe among Nations
From the Universe among Nations
Shines brightly that of Brazil.”
Independence Anthem

62 Hadur September 18, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Radical proposition: what if people in Texas just really like high school football stadiums, and are willing to pay for them even if it means more taxes or debt. What if it’s just literal public choice, not any kind of shady public choice theory?

63 Sam Haysom September 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Hell of a lot more honorable than Cowen who wants his crappy Eriterian food without having to suffer the negative externalities.

64 cowboydroid September 22, 2016 at 11:09 pm

Radical proposition to test your proposition: get the government out of the financing scheme and see if the stadiums would get built voluntarily through a market transaction.

How else do you test what the people actually want and whether they’re willing to pay for it?

65 Soonerhokie September 18, 2016 at 6:59 pm

How do they keep taxes so low. We have games attended by literally hundreds and our tax rate is about 2.3%, far higher than the stadium builders.

Oh, that’s right, I live in NJ.

66 KWebb September 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm

So how much does a ticket to a game cost?

67 buddyglass September 18, 2016 at 11:33 pm

If I could complain about one quote from the article:

“Cunningham said it’s a misconception to equate the stadium’s construction with academic sacrifices, noting the district has a 96% graduation rate. The average SAT score in the district, according to Texas education records, is 1576 — more than 150 points above the state average.”

It drives me NUTS when I hear representatives from districts like this one (remember: earlier in the article we learn the average household income is $83k/year) brags about their graduation rate and SAT scores.

Let’s come up with a model that predicts graduation rate and SAT scores based on demographic factors (say, racial makeup of the district, average household income, % of ESL students, % students on discounted lunch program), and then compare their performance to *WHAT WE SHOULD EXPECT* given the demography.

Would they still look good? Maybe. But probably not.

68 Les Cargill September 19, 2016 at 5:13 am

Here is an income map of McKinney.

http://www.city-data.com/income/income-McKinney-Texas.html

The higher-income parts are new development – since the year 2000. It’s not a preppie little suburb. It’s an aggregation of lots of communities and many, many ( 62.9 ) square miles. Looks like it’s about 8 miles square.

We lived in Allen from 1988 to 1992 and again from 1995 to 2004. 96% grad rates ( Allen was closer to 66% when we left in 2004 ) and 150 SAT points above average probably means it’s a well-run system. A former coworker of mine sent his kid thru McKinney and the kid graduated Yale Medical[1]. It was a quite capable school system even then.
[1] I suspect there was family money involved, but you still have to do the work.

What makes McKinney possible is advances in infrastructure up US 75. You would not have believed it in 1985 – one four-lane highway.

It’s kind of surprising that the region in general has never actually recovered as a tech hub. That’s a tradition going back to Collins Radio, TI and later, Altair, Convex and the like.

Thing about that $83k? It hasn’t gone up since 2004 much. Wages in the general DFW MetroMess have been flat since the first dotcom crash. Property prices have also been flat until the last 18 months. And I suspect the strong Asian component in Allen and McKinney are second-generation – there was quite the LIttle Vietnam and the like in Richardson 35 years ago. Also lots of Tiawanese students at UTD. There is still strong immigration int the area. though.

69 buddyglass September 19, 2016 at 8:10 am

So there may be mitigating factors in the case of McKinney. Full disclosure: I grew up in Fort Worth and live in Austin. My dad put the roofs on most of the schools in Coppell when it was so rapidly expanding. It just bugs me when white, affluent schools and/or school districts brag about their graduation rates and test scores without adjusting expectations for demographic realities.

Parents are so sure they’re sending their kids to a “good school” when the school may be doing no better than demographics would predict. For them, “good school” means “very few poor and/or brown kids”.

I don’t know details about the methodology, but U.S. News’s high school rankings actually rate the performance of economically advantaged students vs. non-disadvantage. Here are some scores for “top” public (non-magnet) schools in Texas, along with McKinney’s, ranked in descending order by the performance of “disadvantaged” students:

Westlake: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 88.1%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 79.5%
Highland Park: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 90.0%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 73.6%
Vandegrift: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 77.3%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 51.9%
Coppell: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 72.9%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 51.7%
Westwood: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 84.0%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 51.3%
Memorial: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 76.9%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 44.0%
McKinney: % non-disadvantaged who are proficient: 74.1%, % disadvantaged who are proficient: 35.3%

Now I admit this is super-crude, and there may be differences between the “disadvantaged” populations served by these schools. Maybe some are “more disadvantaged” than others.

70 buddyglass September 19, 2016 at 8:11 am

Doh. Comments software ate my line-feeds.

71 Bernard Guerrero September 19, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Your point escapes me. It’s quite possible that a given ISD might over- or under-perform as compared to the expectations for the demographic materials fed into it, but why should that be a large factor in my decision-making? I know that peer-groups have a huge impact on educational outcomes, so a small degree of under-performance relative to the demographic baseline would seem to be a small price to pay in exchange for the larger improvement of avoiding having my kids associate with a large number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

– Bernard

72 buddyglass September 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

As a parent, what I’m interested in is how attending school A will affect my particular child relative to school B. Peer effects are a thing, but they’re not the only thing. You can also get a Simpson’s paradox thing going on where school A performs better than school B overall, but every single ethnic group does better at B than at A.

Given two schools with roughly the same *actual* performance, I’m going to choose the one with the largest (Actual – Predicted) value. That’s the school whose teachers, staff, curriculum, etc. are actually *adding* to the base line level of performance determined by demographics.

73 Les Cargill September 20, 2016 at 5:31 am

It’s funny – I lived in that area for roughly 17 out of 20 years and I don’t know anything about Coppell. The scale of the MetroMess is staggering. I hardly recognize it driving up 75 when I go back. The last 12 years have just been an explosion.

That’s a pretty good spread between the non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged. for McKinney.

The old parts of McKinney ( up and down TX-5 ) was((are?) pretty poor. Your data dump may be “crude” but I won’t argue. Best I can tell from what I’ve read, “disadvantaged” kids mainly have more cognitive load on just getting to school in the morning.

I also suspect that No Child Left Behind is the instrumentation basis for “proficient” and I’m not all that sure that’s very good instrumentation. That being said, I’d be interested to know the correlation between the improvement in graduation rates in the Far North Dallas suburbs and No Child Left Behind.

74 Robert September 19, 2016 at 1:12 am

Thank god American colleges and universities would never engage in a fiscally reckless ‘amenities’ arms race. It would cause tuition to skyrocket, putting college out of reach for many in the middle class. No college President worth his/her $800,000/year salary for behaving like every other college President would want this.

75 Urso September 19, 2016 at 10:22 am

Last week this blog was all in favor of public infrastructure projects. Why the sudden 180 degree flip?

76 JWatts September 19, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Maybe this isn’t the ‘right’ type of spending?

77 The Anti-Gnostic September 19, 2016 at 10:55 am

Football is a permissible and comparatively much less harmless outlet for tribal loyalties. And as somebody pointed out above, it’s a public choice much more honest than coming up with economic legedermain to justify cheap labor and exotic food.

That said, education in this country needs to be completely re-thought, and greatly if not entirely disentangled from the demotic State.

78 Plucky September 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm

$60-$70m on a stadium is indeed quite extravagant, but not to the extent one might assume. Keep in mind that these are designed to accommodate 10-12,000 spectators, which a) is very tough to do for anything less than $25-30m and b) implies there are that many people that want to see the games.

As comments above have noted, Football is akin to religion in TX. A more accurate way of describing it is that in TX, high schools are the organizing principle of the suburban communities, and football is second only to academics as the organizing principle of the schools. My experience is Houston-area rather than Dallas-area, but it’s entirely normal that out of a student body of 2,000, between the football team itself, marching band, dance team, cheerleaders, various spirit groups, etc that 350-400 students will have some sort of school-sponsored role at a football game, and that in addition to them 500-600 students will come as spectators. In total it’s completely normal to get half or more of the student body at the football game. It doesn’t fit the economic definition of public good, but it does happen to be a good the communities overwhelmingly want one way or another.

As also mentioned above, there are two basic models for schools, the 4,000-6,000 giant size and 2,000 “small” size. School districts that can help it really don’t like going below about 1,800 students per high school, and the reason is almost entirely driven by extracurriculars- while football is the best known and most visible form of it, the culture in TX is very strongly pro- high quality extracurriculars. The general opinion is that finding an extracurricular you’re good at and pursuing it 10+ hours/week is an Important Part of an education. Again, in suburbia, the schools are the organizing principle for the community (The entire reason you live there is to send your kids to the schools), so attaching the to the schools is just an efficient way to go about it. It’s not just athletics, but performing arts and lots of other things as well. 1,800-2,000 tends to be about the threshold for a critical mass that can support across-the-board solid quality (not just $, but talent level among the students). The choice to go for the giant size is essentially an efficiency judgement, which can allows for nearly pro-quality instruction.

The public-choice situation is basically akin to pork-spending in congress- I’ll support lavish spending on extracurriculars so long as my kid’s sport gets its piece of it, you’ll do the same, and we’ll both agree that anyone who isn’t attached the the school as the focus of the community can GTFO and move to a different district.

79 The Anti-Gnostic September 19, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Well put. I have a senior (who also, thankfully, happens to make excellent grades) in marching band and game day is a pageant. There is a pep group, cheerleaders, and the robotics club participates with its t-shirt-firing robot. The district’s middle schoolers also attend in large numbers. Grandparents come. An ambulance is on-site. Position coaches work with the team for free to build their resumes. The band employs a full-time director and assistant. Advertising rings the stadium. Everybody stands for the national anthem (sung by members from the school’s chorus) with their hand over their heart. Keynesians would find nothing to complain about with high school football.

Extra-curriculars teach teamwork, hierarchy, discipline and in the case of football (or other contact sports), conditioning and physical courage. Whether it’s worth the district’s tax dollars I don’t know but I can tell you an electoral super-majority have no problem with this.

80 chuck martel September 19, 2016 at 10:38 pm

“Extra-curriculars teach teamwork, hierarchy, discipline and in the case of football (or other contact sports), conditioning and physical courage. Whether it’s worth the district’s tax dollars I don’t know but I can tell you an electoral super-majority have no problem with this.”

While the Puritans were once the dominant religion in the US, their theology has almost disappeared. Their morality and world view, however, survives in attitudes about work, business and even in sport, football being the prime example. Teamwork, hierarchy and discipline are basic tenets of Puritan thinking. In countries where Roman Catholicism was the norm American football is ignored and what Americans call soccer is the rage. The differences are obvious and absolutely related to the religious background of the areas. The next NFL expansion team should be called the “Cromwells”.

81 Plucky September 19, 2016 at 10:55 pm

If you think “hierarchy” is a Calvinist value and is not a Catholic one, then…. you’ve got a lot of reading up to do.

The sport called “football” was roughly the same everywhere circa 1800, it just evolved in idiosyncratic ways in various locales to the point that they became mutually unrecognizable a century hence (another variant is “Australian rules football”, which is closer to American football circa 1900). There are still a handful of similarities that indicate a common ancestor (e.g. 11 players per side). There’s nothing inherently theological about the differences. Swedes, Dutch, and Brits play the same football that the French and the Spaniards do.

82 The Anti-Gnostic September 20, 2016 at 10:19 am

Notre Dame. Irish, Italian boxing gyms. Knighthood. Jousting. The monarchy.

Not sure what Catholicism you are talking about. Oh, that’s right; +Francis is now Pope.

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