Texas A&M University–Kingsville, part of Texas A&M University System. Photo by Robert Plocheck.

Texas Public Schools

Enrollment in Texas public schools continues to rise. In the 2017-2018 school year, 5,399,682 students were enrolled. That’s an increase of 0.8 percent over enrollment in the 2016–2017 school year, and a jump of 15.6 percent above enrollment from 2007-2008, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). In Texas, there are 1,023 independent and common school districts and 177 charter operators. Independent school districts are administered by an elected board of trustees and deal directly with the TEA. Common districts are supervised by elected county school superintendents and county trustees. There were 20 school districts with more than 50,000 students enrolled in their various schools, and 29.8 percent of all students in Texas attend school in those large districts. By contrast, only 1.9 percent of Texas students are enrolled at the 391 smallest districts in Texas, each of which has fewer than 500 students enrolled.

A Brief History of Public Education in Texas

Public education was one of the primary goals of the early settlers of Texas, who listed the failure to provide education as one of their grievances in the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

As early as 1838, President Mirabeau B. Lamar’s message to the Republic of Texas Congress advocated setting aside public domain for public schools. His interest caused him to be called the “Father of Education in Texas.” In 1839 Congress designated three leagues of land to support public schools for each Texas county and 50 leagues for a state university. In 1840 each county was allocated one more league of land. . . .

Colleges and Universities

A Brief History of Higher Education in Texas

The first permanent institutions of higher education established in Texas were church-supported schools, although there were some earlier efforts:

Beginnings of University of Texas and Texas A&M University

The two major university systems in Texas had slow and shaky beginnings.

The Congress of the Republic of Texas, on Jan. 14, 1839, provided for the selection of a site for the seat of government, to be named Austin. Included in the legislation were provisions for sites for a capitol, an arsenal, a magazine, an academy, churches, a common school, a hospital, a penitentiary and “all other necessary public buildings and purposes.”

A 40-acre site named College Hill was also set aside for a university, but no plans for construction were made at the time. Congress also set aside 50 square leagues of land, approximately 221,420 acres, to endow two universities. . . .