Across the Lawn – July 13, 2023

July 13, 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:

Add Your Voice to the Select Committee’s Deliberations by July 17

This summer’s public hearings for the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment have concluded, but there is still time to add your voice to the official public record of issues being considered. These issues include vouchers, improving student outcomes, supporting educators, and the STAAR test and A-F accountability system. 

Much like the tallies of phone calls and emails kept by legislative offices for hot topics during the regular legislative session, tallies of support and opposition for these topics expressed in public comments will also become a touchstone for legislators as they move towards an anticipated special session this fall. 

Click here to fill out a brief form and share your views in 300 words or less. Submissions are due by Monday, July 17.  

Submit Your Comments

One Thing to Know:

House Select Committee Meets to talk Assessment and Accountability, School and Teacher Supports, and School Choice

The Texas House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment met on July 11 and 12 to discuss substantial changes to public education ranging from assessment and accountability to the viability of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, also known as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). The Select Committee, chaired by Chairman Brad Buckley, listened to more than 17 hours of invited testimony in the two days of interim hearings that are set to be the only meetings the Select Committee will have before producing a report by August that includes recommendations for the Texas House to consider in future legislative sessions. 

Dr. Michelle Smith, Executive Director for Raise Your Hand Texas, testified before the committee highlighting a long list of news articles from 20 years ago when the House was considering teacher pay raises, property tax cuts and private school vouchers, stating that not much had changed with a continued lack of support from the state to get per-pupil funding above the bottom 10 states. Additionally, Smith pointed out the need to create separate legislation for each of the calls for better and more open debates, rather than an omnibus large bill because, “if these topics are important enough to talk about today and in a future special session, they are important enough to be considered separately, not as a bargaining chip for vouchers.” Raise Your Hand Texas submitted additional written testimony outlining our positions on all of the calls; you can find that testimony here.

Highlights from the Select Committee’s discussion included conversations about the appropriate balance between assessments and other high-quality indicators in our A-F accountability system. Multiple members of the select committee advocated for fewer high-stakes tests that are shorter in length, while some mentioned a desire to include other indicators such as extra- and co-curricular activities, chronic absenteeism, and Pre-K enrollment. 

The Select Committee also heard from many experts about the detrimental impacts from inflation on school district budgets and the need to increase the basic allotment by as much as $1,000. The passionate conversations from both members and those invited to testify only underscored the lack of progress for public education priorities during the regular session. The Select Committee members ended the hearings on a positive note, commenting on the need to increase the Basic Allotment, update the accountability system, and find ways to incorporate parent voice. You can watch all of the hearings here.

Tags: 88th Legislature Advocacy policy school choice Teacher Workforce vouchers

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