Across the Lawn – February 7, 2024

February 07, 2024  

Across the Lawn is a public education publication for Texas legislative news.

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: 

Vote Early

Public education is always on the ballot. Early voting for the March primary starts February 20, 2024. Do your research. Make a plan. Vote. 
Visit the Raise Your Hand Texas for more voting information. There is no better way for Texans to show their support for democracy than by voting for candidates who support Texas public schools.

Vote Early

Four Things to Know

1. Raise Your Hand Texas to Hold Public Education Candidate Forums Across the State

Raise Your Hand Texas is proud to host a series of statewide Public Education Candidate Forums. These forums allow Texans to educate themselves on the issues and be informed voters before election day. The candidate forums are specifically geared toward education topics and let participants know where candidates stand on some of the most pressing issues facing our public schools. Organized and hosted by our Regional Advocacy Directors, each event invites every candidate running for the Texas Legislature or a run-off election in their respective region to participate. All candidates on the ballot for the district are invited to participate, and no candidates are endorsed.

These candidate events are free to attend because Raise Your Hand Texas believes in giving every voter access to important information before they go to the ballot box. The forums are also recorded and posted within a few days for viewers to watch if they were not able to attend in person. 

The Texas Legislature plays a large role in shaping the requirements and resources of every public school in the state, and an informed electorate is important to ensure decisions made at the Capitol are in the best interest of our students and teachers. 

2. Texas Education Agency Releases Annual Report

The Texas Education Agency released its 2023 Annual Report, including information on its four strategic priorities: 

  • Recruit, Support And Retain Teachers And Principals: Teachers are the most important in-school factor affecting student outcomes.
  • Build A Foundation For Reading And Math: Focus on the fundamentals to eliminate the achievement gap.
  • Connect High School To Career And College: Rigor and relevance matter.
  • Improve Low-Performing Schools: Every child. Every classroom. Every day.

The TEA report provides high-level overviews of our state’s school funding, school safety and security, special education, and teacher workforce issues. 

3. New Austin American-Statesman Analysis Reiterates Pressure of Inflation on Public Schools

“Adjusted to 2024 dollars, per-student funding from state and local sources is down by 12.9% — $10,387.03 this year compared with $11,919.13 per student in 2020,” according to a new Austin American-Statesman analysis of public school funding.   

The report underscores the policy discussions of the 88th Regular Session and the four called special sessions which centered around the need to increase the basic allotment and other school funding formulas for schools to keep up with inflation and provide new school safety requirements and other program needs.

Even though the state had almost $33 billion in available revenue during the 2023 legislative session, the $6,160 basic allotment has remained unchanged since 2019.  As school districts begin preparing budgets for the 2024-25 school year, there will inevitably be an uptick in school boards adopting deficit budgets in order to make ends meet. 

4. Expansive Voucher Program Creates Budget Issues for Arizona

Arizona will face an $879 million budget deficit due to its new expansive voucher program and substantial tax cuts. Democratic Governor Hobbs is proposing several new strategies to rein in spending and limit the current voucher program. The Arizona voucher system started in 2011 as a small program for disabled children. Its eligibility was expanded in 2022 to all students across the state. 

Tags: Candidate Forums school funding Teacher Workforce Texas Elections Voting Information vouchers

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