Across The Lawn Feb. 10, 2023

February 10, 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.

The One Thing to Do

1. Watch Our Latest Video 

Raise Your Hand Texas believes one simple solution will help us solve three funding challenges taking place in our public schools right now.

By increasing the basic allotment for school funding and attaching an annual inflationary adjustment to it, lawmakers can solve three problems currently facing our public education system. 
Watch our latest video about why Texas should invest more in public schools.

The Five Things to Know

1. Speaker Phelan Names House Public Education Committee

On Wednesday, Feb 8, Speaker Dade Phelan named the 13 members of the House Public Education Committee.

  • Brad Buckley, Chair (R-Salado)
  • Alma Allen, Vice-Chair (D-Houston)
  • Steve Allison (R-San Antonio)
  • Charles Cunningham (R-Humble) 
  • Harold Dutton (D-Houston)
  • Cody Harris (R-Palestine)
  • Brian Harrison (R-Waxahachie)
  • Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant)
  • Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin)
  • Ken King (R-Canadian)
  • Oscar Longoria (D-Mission)
  • Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler)
  • James Talarico (D-Round Rock)

Phelan also named chairs and members for all other committees. You can review those committee assignments on the Texas House website and revisit the Senate’s committee assignments here.

2. Senate Committee on Finance Meets to Discuss Public Education Funding

The Senate Committee on Finance met on the morning of Monday, Feb. 6 to discuss its initial recommendations for public education funding. The conversation covered numerous funding issues, including the Senate recommendations for $15 billion in property tax relief, $600 million in additional school safety grants, and the intent to provide increased compensation and benefits for classroom teachers. Other topics included the state share of education funding, which is currently estimated to stand at 43% in 2024.

The budget process takes most of the 140-day session. Any funding for a basic allotment increase, increase in teacher compensation and benefits, or scholarships for aspiring teachers – all Raise Your Hand Texas legislative priorities – will be considered under this one piece of legislation.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath’s presentation to the committee can be found here.

3. Raise Your Hand Texas Hosts Texas Teacher Advocacy Days 

Raise Your Hand Texas is hosting Texas Teacher Advocacy Days from February through May 2023 to let lawmakers hear directly from teachers, the professionals who are closest to our state’s current challenges and whose expertise can help lawmakers identify meaningful ways to address teacher retention and recruitment.

The legislative session is the pinnacle of state education policy-making, and an ideal time for public education advocates to raise their voices in support of the issues that matter most to them.

Our Texas Teacher Advocacy Days began on Monday, Feb 6, and are led by our Teacher Specialist, JoLisa Hoover, and our statewide team of Regional Advocacy Directors. Follow us as we use #UnderTheDome as our Texas Teacher Advocacy Days hashtag, and use our visits and updates on social media to bring #TeacherVoice to the Texas Capitol. To read more and get involved, please visit our Teacher Voices at the Texas Capitol blog post.

4. Measure What Matters Hits the Road

In October 2022, Raise Your Hand Texas released A Report from the Measure What Matters Assessment & Accountability Council detailing reforms and policy recommendations on how Texas public schools are rated and its students are tested. On Wednesday, Feb. 8, we began our series of  nine statewide press events.

The campaign kicked off in El Paso with a press conference highlighting policy recommendations and encouraging our legislators to support Texas KIDS by passing legislation that de-emphasizes the STAAR test and adds more meaningful indicators to the accountability system this session.

KIDS is an acronym we believe every Texan can get behind to support our public education students.

K – Knowledge for parents and community members
I – Indicators beyond the test
D- De-emphasize STAAR
S – Seek feedback

Measure What Matters Statewide Press Events: 

  • El Paso on February 8, 2023
  • Burkburnett on February 9, 2023
  • Harlingen on February 10, 2023
  • Houston on February 13, 2023
  • Lufkin on February 15, 2023
  • Frisco on February 15, 2023
  • Lubbock on February 16, 2023
  • San Antonio on February 16, 2023
  • Elgin on February 17, 2023

5. This Week’s Bills of Interest

We are on day 32 of the 88th Legislative Session, and more than 3,000 bills have been filed. Of those, we are tracking more than 400. This number will continue to grow as we approach the bill filing deadline on March 10. The list of bills Raise Your Hand Texas is is tracking this week includes:

  • HB 1892 filed by Rep. Briscoe Cain relates to improved educational efficiency by empowering parents through a program administered by the comptroller.
  • HB 1926 filed by Rep. Lacey Hull on to the expiration date of the supplemental special education services program.
  • HB 1981 filed by Rep. Cody Vasut on the administration of assessment instruments to public school students.
  • HB 2040 filed by Rep. Brad Buckley on an indicator of achievement for military readiness under the public school accountability system.

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