Report: Fracking Funneling Billions into Texas Schools
The energy industry has always been good to the people of Texas. However, some people might not realize just how much the oil and gas industry contributes to schools throughout the state. A new report from North Texans for Natural Gas highlights the massive role the energy industry – specifically fracking – plays in funding education.
The state of Texas has established an education endowment that supports public schools known as the Permanent School Fund. According to the new North Texans for Natural Gas report, this fund now receives over half a billion dollars annually from oil and natural gas royalties and investments. Since 1960, the Permanent School Fund has distributed more than $23 billion to Texas schools. Additionally over 200 school districts in the state received over a million dollars in 2014 from oil and natural gas property taxes (some districts in West Texas received over $50 million!).
There is no area of the state whose school districts are not aided by energy revenue. The report explains the far-reaching effects of this revenue saying:
“Without a doubt, every student in Texas directly benefits from oil and natural gas production. It helps pay for higher teacher salaries, enables state-of the-art education facilities to be built, supports training programs and keeps tuition low. These benefits accrue to working families across Texas, even those who don’t happen to live near any current oil and natural gas development.”
Universities in Texas are also seeing revenue pile up from oil and gas operations in the state. Texas A&M and the University of Texas’ endowments are now among the top 10 in the country, thanks to oil and natural gas production on state-owned property. The University of Texas’ endowment reached $25 billion this year, and the Austin-based university now has the second largest endowment in the country (second only to Harvard).
In addition to funding, the energy industry is also contributing to Texas schools through educational partnerships. Exxon has been a huge advocate for STEM education both in Texas and nationwide. Multiple energy companies partnered with Midland Independent School District to launch the Petroleum Academy this fall. According to the North Texans for Natural Gas report:
“Approximately 110 students from Lee and Midland freshman high schools participate in the program, offering information about the oil and natural gas industry and giving them transferable skills that can be applied once they graduate”
Additionally, Texas A&M announced the creation of the Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academies this year, which promotes STEM education. These are just a few of the many examples of the energy industry partnering with schools in Texas promote a variety of energy-related educational programs.
Oil and natural gas production in Texas plays an indispensable role in keeping the Texas economy competitive. It also contributes greatly to the success of Texas students through the funding of the state’s schools. Thanks to revenue from oil and gas production and invaluable partnerships with energy companies, every student in Texas has received a better-funded education.