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. . . .
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. . . .
Academic achievement was set [in 1984] as a priority in public education with stricter attendance rules; adoption of a no-pass, no-play rule prohibiting students who were failing courses from participating in sports and other extracurricular activities for a six-week period; and national norm-referenced testing throughout all grades to assure parents of individual schools’ performance through a common frame of reference.
No-pass, no-play now requires only a three-week suspension for a failing course grade, during which time the student can continue to practice, but not participate in competition. . . .
From the Almanac
For the 2012–2013 biennium, beginning Sept. 1, 2011, and ending Aug. 31, 2013, total funding for higher education is $21.8 billion in all funds, a decrease of $969.1 million, or 4.3 percent, over the 2010–2011 appropriation of $22.7 billion. Higher education for 2012–2013 will be 12.6 percent of the total state budget, compared with 12.5 percent of the state budget for 2010–2011.
Enrollment in Texas public and independent, or private, colleges and universities in fall 2013 totaled 1,466,585 students, down from 1,481,581 the previous fall. Enrollment in the 38 public universities increased by 10,124 students to 587,000 students.