Across The Lawn – April 14, 2023

April 14, 2023  

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Raise Your Hand Texas has a front-row seat to the Capitol. From our vantage point, public education policy issues have never been more important, and this is why we must make every session a public education session.

ONE Thing to Do:

1. Watch Our New Measure What Matters Video

Our Measure What Matters Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 18 (see below) will coincide with the first day of STAAR testing around the state. Watch our video explaining how more indicators would make for a robust and meaningful public school accountability system, and share online with #MeasureWhatMattersTX. 

SIX Things to Know:

1. Measure What Matters Capitol Day on Tuesday, April 18 

This Tuesday, April 18, Raise Your Hand Texas will host Measure What Matters Day at the Texas Capitol. Our schools and our students are so much more than ONE TEST on ONE DAY. A press conference will start at 10:15 a.m. on the South steps of the Capitol with over 2,500 wooden rulers on display from all over Texas, featuring messages from public education advocates (children, parents, educators, community and business leaders) sharing how they want schools measured.  

Now is the time to reimagine how we capture and assess performance in Texas schools beyond STAAR. Reforming the A-F accountability system to de-emphasize STAAR and incorporate more measures of student learning and campus outputs will help our communities and policymakers know what actions matter most inside our schools.

2. Full House Passes $12.0 Billion Tax Reduction Bill

The House passed a $12.0 billion property tax reduction bill, HB 2 by Rep. Meyer, on Thursday.  The bill provides a 15-cent reduction to a school district’s M&O tax rate and, if approved by the voters, lowers the current 10% limit on annual growth on appraisals to 5% for all residential and real business property. This is in addition to the over $5 billion in new automatic tax compression occurring over the next two years due to provisions passed in 2019.

3. School Funding Bill Passes from House Public Education Committee

HB 100 by Rep. King was passed out of the House Public Education Committee on Tuesday. This legislation, among other formula and policy changes, increases the minimum salary schedule for teachers, increases the current $6,160 basic allotment by $140 over a two-year period, creates an inflation adjustment to the basic allotment, moves funding from average daily attendance to average enrollment based funding for certain program allotments, updates special education funding, and creates new allotments for advanced mathematics pathways, rural pathways, fine arts, and book safety.  

At the time it passed out of committee, an updated fiscal note which provides the total state cost and school district models, and also provides an impact on specific school district funding, was not available. The next stop for this bill will be a vote in the full House.  

4. RYHT Executive Director, Dr. Michelle Smith, Testifies Against Vouchers

During the House Public Education Committee hearing on Tuesday, April 11, Dr. Michelle Smith, executive director of Raise Your Hand Texas, testified against HB 4340 by Rep. Frank. This bill establishes a voucher program through an Education Savings Account. The bill, as drafted, has the potential to divert over $1 billion per year from public schools and clearly acknowledges through its provisions that private schools and vendors will not be required to comply with federal and state protections for students with disabilities, protections public schools are required to offer.   

Raise Your Hand Texas also opposed three other voucher bills heard throughout one of the longest hearings of the committee this legislative session. All of the bills discussed were left pending in committee. 

5. Senate Bills on the Move: School Saftey, High-Quality Instructional Materials Allotment, and School Library Materials

The Senate Education Committee voted out numerous bills on Wednesday, April 12, including:

SB 11 by Sen. Nichols relating to measures for ensuring safety and security in public schools, including measures related to certain student records and truant conduct.

SB 1630 by Sen. Bettencourt relating to an attendance policy adopted by public schools to prevent truancy.

SB 2565 by Sen. Creighton relating to instructional material and technology, the adoption and revision of essential knowledge and skills of the public school foundation curriculum, and creating allotments. 

SB 1515 by Sen. King relating to the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools. 

The full Senate passed SB 13 by Sen. Paxton with a vote of 18-12 on Thursday relating to a school district’s library materials and catalog, the creation of local school library advisory councils, and parental rights regarding public school library catalogs.

6. Upcoming Committee Hearings

The House Youth Health & Safety, Select Committee is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, April 17 to hear numerous bills.

The House Committee on Public Education is scheduled to meet at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18 to hear numerous special education bills. 

Tags: across the lawn Assessment & Accountability Measure What Matters school finance school funding school safety voucher vouchers

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