Dallas ISD May Give Glimpse Into Migrant Education Costs

Dallas ISD May Give Glimpse Into Migrant Education Costs

DALLAS, Texas–Texans may not have to wait until the new school year to feel the impact of what the Dallas Morning News reported as more than 50,000unaccompanied minors now mostly in Texas. Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles offered up the use of three vacant schools to shelter 2,000 migrant youth who

Interesting timing for Miles’ gesture given his perpetual tenure of scandal as Dallas ISD chief, the latest bout stemming from the district’s basketball team recruiting practices that resulted in 15 coach firings, a full-fledged investigation, and murder, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins “vowed” that county taxpayers won’t be saddled with the bill because “the federal government is evaluating sites in Dallas County where a private contractor would operate two centers to provide temporary care to the migrant youth,” the article also stated. 

However, a private contractor hired through the federal government is still taxpayer funded; and the youth in question are eligible for local, state and federally taxpayer funded educational services while in custody or once reunited with relatives in the United States and/or absorbed in the foster care system through government agencies like the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

This adds a burden to the existing foster care system.  The Office of Data, Analysis, Research, and Evaluation, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reported 399, 546 children were in foster care as of September 2012.  The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services released May 2014 figures — 16,791 minors (o-17 years old) are in the state system.

The costs of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) weigh heavily on Texans’ minds but it’s not just about the dollars. Public health and safetyconcerns over gangs, overcrowded classrooms, the drain on the public school system resources, and the emotional strain on communities exacerbate fears.

Federal law like Plyler v. Doe tie the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) hands as Breitbart Texas reported. Texas public schools must accept the migrant minors. If Dallas ISD shelters these minors, those education services kick in immediately, according to Kenneth Wolfe, Deputy Director of Administration forChildren and Families, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

He told Breitbart Texas that even amidst the frenetic warehousing of these youth, they do receive education services, including English as a second language. It’s online.  They include classroom education, mental and health services,case management, socialization and recreation, plus family reunification “that facilitates safe and timely release to family members or other sponsors” thatcan care for them.  The ORR also conducts home studies if safety is an issue and funds follow up services for at-risk undocumented minors aftertheir release. 

Texas feels the effects, already. Breitbart Texas reported on thousands of unaccompanied alien children that crossed into Hidalgo County, Texas.They received a “slew of benefits subsidized by the federal government” over a two week period that erupted in to an approximately $68,000 price tag — education was only one of them and the feds split the tab with the county.

In 2006, a National Research Council  (NRC) study sourced the CIS report “Immigration’s Impact on Public Coffers”and found that the largest federal costs, were Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs such asfood stamps, WIC, and free school lunches ($1.9 billion); the federal prison/court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion).

The largest percentage of undocumented children in the nation are in California. This year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported annual costs to California taxpayers at $25.3 billion a year. That’s for 3 million illegal aliens and their 1.1 million U.S.-born children. Every California taxpaying household pays an average of $2,370 annually to fund K-12 education, according to the report “Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on California Taxpayers.”

The Sacramento Bee highlighted a few key report findings — funding of elementary and secondary education for the undocumented and the anchor babies in the state accounted for the “largest share of the cost to taxpayers at $14.4 billion a year.”

Baseline education includes public school plus English as a Second Language (ESL). “Despite federal funding, the averageper pupil expenditure was $10,450 each year,” the article stated.

However, K-12 education isn’t a flat number derived from a state’s funding formula.  It often incorporates many other services doledout to migrant students. FAIR’s report accounted for those other associated expenses such as juvenile justice and law enforcement costs (i.e., policing, court andincarceration). That adds $4.4 billion to the California taxpayer’s payroll.

Medical services also wind up on the taxpayer’s tab, costing Californians another $4 billion of which $388 million was funneled to cover 68,000 births of stateside babies to illegal alien mothers. Public assistance (i.e., low cost meal programs, free immunizations) and other programs available to state residentsregardless of legal status upped the taxpayer’s expense to a whopping $792 million. Yet, dollars that the undocumented put back into the system through taxes amount to a paltry $3.5 billion each year, the Sacramento Bee also reported based on the study’s findings.

Texas is right behind California.

In January, Breitbart News unveiled FAIR’s sobering report “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on Texas” showing that Texans are “footing a massive financial bill,” approximately $8.5 billion for just K-12. Special needs assistance like English as a Second Language (ESL) also called English Language Learners (ELL) instruction drives up the bill for the “estimated 195,000 illegal alien students and 481,000 U.S.-born children of illegal aliens,” in the article.

The report broke down state public school costs to local taxes (51.6%), state revenue (41.1%), federal funds (2.2%) with the remainder coming from other sources all taxpayer driven.

FAIR also sourced PolitiFact Texas who “…folding in capital outlays, other education expenditures and interest on debt, total estimated spending in Texas of nearly $11,090 per pupil.” That translates to $10,900 per student cost to the Texas taxpayer when taking the federal funding share of 2.2% applied to instructional costs is removed from the taxpayer’s equation but those costs are there and they are federally tax dollar driven.

Also in the FAIR report was TEA data on actual expenditures and the “Bilingual Program” funding cost, averaging $1,083 per student. Thus, the estimated taxpayer costs of educating the children of illegal aliens unaccompanied or otherwise totaled up to about $7.4billion per year. Throw in English as a Second Language and the bill jumps up to that $8.5 billion figure.

The Breitbart News exclusive also spotlighted that this amount of per student funding was compatible with independent data the Texas Comptroller’s Financial Allocation Study for Texas website compiled for the 2008-09 school year “identifying total per school expenditures as $11,567 per student.” The comptroller’s study, funding took into account 7.8% federal funds (APRA). Total state and local costs were cited as $10,667 per student.”  

Previously, the Dallas Morning News went bare bones estimating 2008-09 per pupil costs at $8,572 with a ceiling estimate of $3.5 billion total educational costs based on Pew Hispanic Center data (2011).

Calculating the expense is not as simple as taking the state education funding formula and crunching data based on the number of students without social security numbers as was done in this report compiled by the Washington, D.C. based nonpartisan think tank. They estimated 150,000 illegal immigrants in Texas schools in 2009, including a small portion who attended private schools from survey data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S.Bureau of Labor. Interestingly, Pew’s senior demographer Jeffrey Passel admitted that the margin of error in his Texas estimate was “pretty big,” although he never provided a specific margin.

One reason why FAIR may have thrown in the kitchen sink when calculating costs is the statistics continue to reveal that undocumented minor education includes services well beyond sitting in a classroom (i.e., Title I free lunch, government assistance). They all push up the taxpayer’s price tag.

What these costs will look like may become far more apparent should Dallas ISD take on these migrant school aged minors. Dallas County residents will soon see if it doesn’t cost them a dime or if they are really left holding the bag.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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