The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, is the Father of Texas Education. During his term, the state set aside three leagues of land in each county for equipping public schools. An additional 50 leagues of land set aside for the support of two universities would later become the basis of the state's Permanent University Fund. Lamar's actions set the foundation for a Texas-wide public school system. Texas ranked 29th in the American Legislative Exchange Council's Report Card on American Education. Texas students ranked higher than average in mathematics, but lower in reading. Between 2006–2007, Texas spent $7,275 per pupil ranking it below the national average of $9,389. The pupil/teacher ratio was 14.9, below the national average of 15.3. Texas paid instructors $41,744, below the national average of $46,593. The state provided 88.0% of the funding for education, the federal government 12.0%.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) administers the state's public school systems. Texas has over 1,000 school districts- all districts except the Stafford Municipal School District are independent from municipal government and many cross city boundaries. School districts have the power to tax their residents and to assert eminent domain over privately owned property. Due to court-mandated equitable school financing for school districts, the state has a controversial tax redistribution system called the"Robin Hood plan". This plan transfers property tax revenue from wealthy school districts to poor ones. The TEA has no authority over private or home school activities.
Students in Texas take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in primary and secondary school. TAKS assess students' attainment of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studiesskills required under Texas education standards and the No Child Left Behind Act. In spring 2007, Texas legislators replaced the TAKS for freshmen in the 2011–2012 school year and onward with End of Course exams for core high school classes.
Colleges and universities
Texas's controversial alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. The bill encourages diversity while avoiding problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case.
Six state university systems and four independent public universities exist in Texas. Discovery of minerals on Permanent University Fund land, particularly oil, has helped fund the rapid growth the state's largest university systems: University of Texas and Texas A&M. The PUF principal in fall 2005 was approximately $15 billion, second in size only to Harvard University's endowment. The other four university systems are the University of Houston, University of North Texas, Texas State, and Texas Tech.
Texas has three Carnegie-designated Tier One public research universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston. The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are flagship universities of the state of Texas. Both were established by the Texas Constitution and hold stakes in the Permanent University Fund. The state has been putting effort to expand the number of flagship universities by elevating some of its seven institutions designated as "emerging research universities." The two that are expected to emerge first are the University of Houston and Texas Tech University, likely in that order according to the discussion on the House floor of the Texas Legislature.
Texas has many private institutions ranging from liberal arts colleges to nationally recognized tier one research universities. Rice University in Houston is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and is ranked the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report. The former republic chartered the private universities Baylor University, University of Mary Hardin–Baylor, and Southwestern University.
Universities in Texas currently host two presidential libraries: George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at The University of Texas at Austin. An agreement has been reached to create a third; the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University.