Permanent School Fund History

A bit of Texas History of the Fund

In 1854, Texas pioneers established a school fund to provide free books to Texas schoolchildren. Twenty years later, the fund was almost depleted. In 1874, they amended the state constitution to create the Permanent School Fund and a State Board of Education, to be the sole manager of that fund, essentially the Legislature of 1874 put in place a system to protect the Permanent School Fund from future Legislatures!

The initial revenue was two million dollars from oil and gas interests from land owned by the state. Today, the Fund has a body of nearly $20 billion dollars that generates $800 million dollars a year in interest, (known as the Available School Fund), partly because of the prudent investments and careful management of the Fund by the State Board of Education.

That’s what our forefathers wanted--- free books to kids to ensure they had the basics for education. Nowadays this means not only books for students but entire curricula, teacher editions, workbooks, CD roms, educator in services and supporting materials to school districts, all from revenue that is NOT taxpayer money. They called it the Permanent School Fund, because they established a financial setup to live “in perpetuity” …forever.

A little more Texas history…

In 1975, the Texas Legislature watered down the constitutional mandate by passing legislation allowing the Legislature to limit the amount appropriated from the available funds for books, meaning any leftover funds in the available funds from interest, can go elsewhere in the general education pot of money. This single act opened the door to raid book money. And when the legislature raids the fund to divert money to from the basics of education—books---, our children’s education future, and that of generations to come, is at stake.