home rule bill

The 84th Legislative Session represented a victory for Texas public education, as student-centered reforms rose above dissension and distraction.

While Raise Your Hand Texas monitors a number of key issues during every legislative session, the following represent issue campaigns we actively pursued during the 84th Texas Legislative Session.

ENHANCE PRE-K QUALITY

Overview

Leaders around the country, including some in conservative states, and business leaders across Texas are advocating for public pre-kindergarten as the education foundation for opportunity. If Texas wants to give every child a fair shot in school and life, and if we’re serious about improving schools and shrinking the achievement gap, we must start early with high-quality, full-day pre-k.

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Pre-K Bill A First Start, But More Quality Needed

House Bill 4 (2015) created a new grant program to incentivize districts to increase pre-k quality. While a good first step, a permanent investment in research-based, high-quality elements is needed to ensure lasting results.

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Full Day Is Essential For High-Quality Pre-K

Hear from experts, administrators, and teachers as to why pre-k students must be exposed to a full class day to benefit from what pre-k has to offer.

Pre-Kindergarten For The Modern Age: A Scalable, Affordable, High-Quality Plan For Texas

Dr. Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, offers an overview of the status of pre-k in Texas, including how Texas can learn from best practices nationwide to improve its program.

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High-Quality, Full-Day Pre-K: The Foundation For Success

Raise Your Hand Texas summarizes the essential elements of high-quality pre-k and specific legislative recommendations in this one-page handout.

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FREE SCHOOLS TO INNOVATE

Overview

Texas school districts and public schools are burdened by a highly centralized, compliance-driven system impeding their ability to innovate. Texas should pursue a comprehensive approach to public school autonomy, giving districts access to the same freedoms enjoyed by charter schools. Texas should maintain strong state accountability standards while granting districts and campuses more autonomy in meeting those goals without undermining local school board governance.

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Texas Innovation Schools: A Pathway To Success For Autonomous Schools In Texas

James Liebman, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and director of its Center for Public Research and Leadership, describes the “Shared Learning” model of autonomous schools and how Texas can take advantage of the benefits of this approach.

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Testimony For SB 1241, “Innovation Zones”

Dr. David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas, offers testimony to the House Committee on Education in favor of SB 1241, which would expand accountable local autonomy and promote networks of schools supporting one another.

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ADDRESS LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOLS

Overview

By providing swift and targeted interventions for struggling campuses, school turnaround must be a statewide priority.

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Supporting School Turnaround: Lessons For Texas Policymakers

Although they represent a small subset of Texas schools, chronically low-performing schools remain a persistent problem. Kerstin Carlson Le Floch, Managing Researcher for American Institutes for Research, presents key best practices and public policy recommendations for school turnaround.

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Texas Tribune: Texas To Hold Districts Accountable For Failing Schools

“If school district leaders don’t fix failing schools, the state may strip their authority under a new law effective Sept. 1.”

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Houston Chronicle: Anthony: School Takeover Proposals Have Pitfalls That Should Concern Texas

“The Opportunity School District is described as an “emergency room” for low-performing schools. There is just one problem with this metaphor. In other states where this model is used, the school, unlike the patient, never comes out of the operating room.”

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PREVENT VOUCHERS FROM WEAKENING SCHOOLS

Overview

Raise Your Hand opposes all voucher and “neo-voucher” proposals that would remove taxpayer funds from public schools and divert them to private entities not accountable to the public.

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“I’m Talking About School Choice. Who Cares About Fairness?”

Vouchers hurt public schools and students. Prevent vouchers from defunding and dismantling public schools.

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Houston Chronicle: Tax-Credit Initiative Is Budgetary Sleight Of Hand

“Don’t let the fancy footwork fool you. When it’s all said and done, a school voucher is still a school voucher, no matter what they call it.”

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The Case Against School Vouchers: The Texas Miracle Depends On Strong Public Schools, Not Unproven Gimmicks

School vouchers have proven over time to be divisive, ineffective, and unnecessary.

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Mr Voucher: “Can I Pretend to Rescue You?”

Mr. Voucher returns, determined to convince taxpayers that public schools should operate more like consumer products and politicians. Instead, he gets a lesson from the kids on public school choice and why we need to focus on strengthening and supporting public education.

ESTABLISH EDUCATOR DATA SYSTEM

Overview

To build the strongest education system in the country, we need to better understand our educator workforce and better use data to benchmark and plan.

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Educator Data System: Creating A Talent Engine For Texas Public Schools

Education First presents a report about collecting and using educator data, concluding that a much broader conversation needs to be taking place, both nationally and in Texas, about how to recruit, train, evaluate, support and retain educators at scale.

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Testimony To Subcommittee On Educator Quality

Dr. David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas, testifies before the Texas House subcommittee, emphasizing the need for significant access as a state to transparent, readily accessible data about our educator workforce.

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ENSURE A FAIR ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM

Overview

Raise Your Hand opposes any rating or school labeling approach not tied to a corresponding accountability system that fairly measures campus performance.

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Houston Chronicle: Another Voice: Rating Performance Or Punishing Poverty?

Research on implementation of A-F rating schemes in Florida, North Carolina and Maine found that campus grades are highly correlated not to performance, but to poverty.

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Testimony Against SB 6, “A-F” – House Committee On Public Education

Research shows that a composite A-F rating system penalizes not ineffective schools, but schools with high levels of students in poverty.

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PRESERVE AUTHENTIC LOCAL AUTONOMY

Overview

Raise Your Hand Texas believes neighborhood schools must remain within the control of democratically-elected local officials, parents, community members, and taxpayers.

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Dallas Morning News: Bill Ratliff: Bill Doesn’t Solve Home-Rule Law’s Problems; It Makes Them Worse

“I fear the legislation as it emerged from committee in the House ultimately undermines the local control it was designed to bolster.”

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Parent Trigger Laws: Is The Game Worth The Candle?

Raise Your Hand Texas policy brief researches outcomes of parent trigger laws in California, concluding that the policy is inherently rooted in conflict.

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Houston Chronicle: Anthony: School Takeover Proposals Have Pitfalls That Should Concern Texas

“This [policy] raises real questions about who exactly is empowered by the parent trigger.”

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MAINTAIN QUALITY CONTROLS FOR FULL-TIME VIRTUAL EDUCATION

Overview

Full-time virtual schools have a poor track record of academic performance, and consistent achievement must precede any future expansion.

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Virtual Education In Texas: Accountability Must Accompany Access

Raise Your Hand Texas provides longitudinal data about full-time virtual school performance, including specific legislative recommendations.

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Testimony Against SB 894, “Virtual Schools” – Senate Committee On Education

Dr. David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas, weakens quality oversight and accountability for virtual schools.

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