Helping Texas Schools Maximize Resources the Goal of Economic Productivity Forum

Former U.S. Secretaries of Education Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings are among the top national, state and local education leaders participating in an Austin forum next week to discuss improved fiscal transparency and cost effectiveness in education.

The forum, which is Jan. 24-25, will focus on how schools can do more with less and is sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Public School Initiatives (IPSI) and the newly formed Institute for Productivity in Education (IPE).

The meeting will feature a moderated conversation on how to increase productivity and financial accountability in public education, with presentations focusing on optimal strategies, structures and financing models to help schools gain maximum benefits from their available funds. IPSI Executive Director Darvin Winick, Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and Paul Hill of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington will moderate.

"The goal of the forum is to identify the link between productivity and innovation so school leaders can manage effectively with more freedom in resource challenged times," said Winick, "and to identify steps Texas can take to implement best practices. The current fiscal outlook is challenging, but we have the opportunity to innovate and lead."

Panelists who will be presenting include:

  • Tom Currah of Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs' office
  • Karen Hawley Miles of Education Resource Strategies in Boston
  • Mike Casserly of the Washington, D.C., based Council of the Great City Schools
  • Tim Tauer of Education Resource Group

Also on the 25-member panel are James Guthrie from The Bush Institute, Texas House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler, Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, IPE Chair and former University of Texas System Chair Charles Miller, and Jay Greene of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Gayle Fallon of the Houston Federation of Teachers as well as superintendents of Garland, Houston and North East independent school districts will be offering school administrators' perspectives.

"There is a real need to give local school leaders more autonomy in resource allocation," said Miller. "To do that, we should unbundle financial data -- it's too confusing now. Offering policy makers and the public greater transparency in education spending will lead to more local control. Ultimately, we should develop a system that rewards productivity and allows the reallocation of resources at the campus level for the best possible use."

IPSI, which moved from the University of Texas System to The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education last summer, aims to improve pre-kindergarten through college student performance through strategic partnerships with the University of Texas institutions, community colleges, school districts and state agencies.

IPE's mission is to improve public education by promoting cost effectiveness and productivity, fostering research and public discussion and recommending policy improvements.

For the forum agenda, additional resources and a list of panelists and presenters, visit: or contact Seth Winick at or 512-472-1600.