Across the Lawn

March 12, 2021 |

87th Legislative Session Weekly Update  |  Friday, March 12, 2021

The FOUR Things to Know and ONE Thing to Do

Welcome to Across the Lawn, Issue 9.

The ninth week of the 87th Legislative Session has come to a close. Check out our one thing to do and four things to know.

Raise Your Hand Texas has a front-row seat to the 87th Legislature (we can see the Capitol across the south lawn). From our vantage point, public education policy issues have never been more important. This weekly session update will keep you informed and engaged.

The One Thing to Do

Federal stimulus funding will be the key to ensure this pandemic health crisis doesn’t turn into a generational education crisis. Find out how much funding is intended for schools within each of the three federal stimulus bills. Next week, get ready to engage in our first big advocacy campaign of the 87th Legislative Session. It is up to all of us to convey to our legislators and state leaders the necessity of ensuring education dollars stay in education.

* The amounts displayed are based on how the three pieces of federal stimulus legislation intended the funding to be allocated based on Title I students. These numbers are subject to change based on state policy decisions.

Things to Know

1. President Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion in Federal Stimulus Funding, Including Over $12 Billion for Texas Schools

Texas will receive a third round of federal stimulus for K-12 public education, estimated at $12.4 billion, under the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden on Thursday. This is in addition to the $1.3 billion and $5.5 billion in funding provided to Texas schools under the first two rounds of COVID-19 related federal stimulus legislation.

Texas initially received $1.3 billion in stimulus funding in the spring of 2020; however, state leaders supplanted that money (meaning they swapped out state funding for federal funding). This resulted in school districts not receiving any additional dollars under the program. Now, the second and third rounds of federal stimulus money (totaling $17.9 billion) are awaiting dispersal, with the $5.5 billion provided in round two currently being considered by the Texas legislature.

Education funding under the American Rescue Plan can be used to help with a number of COVID-19 related needs, including academic and social emotional programs, hiring counselors and nurses, and modernizing facilities and HVAC systems.

As members of the Texas Legislature continue to discuss how to spend these new federal dollars it is worth reminding them that money intended for public education should stay in public education.We must make sure the almost $18 billion from the second and third round of federal stimulus money goes to help our students, teachers, and schools.

2. Deadline for Filing Bills for 87th Texas Legislative Session is Today

With a few exceptions, the deadline for filing bills for the 87th Legislative Session is today.  Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to sort through the hundreds of bills submitted over the last week related to public education and provide updates on bills of interest in the coming weeks.

It appears HB 1525 by Rep. Huberty will be the HB 3 (86th-R) clean-up bill. Some of the provisions included in the current version include: career and technology education funding, changes to the fast growth school allotment, new eligibility for the CCMR bonus, and provisions dealing with tax rate swaps.

3. Virtual and Remote Learning Policy Discussions Continue

Although the focus of much of the recent conversations surrounding public schools attendance has been on how to transition students back to in-person instruction, policies are also being discussed that will shape the future of virtual and remote instruction.  There are numerous bills filed dealing with this issue.

Raise Your Hand Texas strongly believes the best form of instruction is in-person instruction.  But, we also know the pandemic transformed the way schools are able to use technology moving forward.  Please read our Future of Virtual and Remote Learning Checklist for what we believe is needed in any virtual legislation that passes this session.

4. Intersect Ed Explores the Misconceptions of “Missing Students”

Our latest episode of Intersect Ed examines the misconceptions around students who are “missing” from their public school. Critics often place blame on educators saying they are not doing enough to find their students. What we know is the exact opposite: educators are going above and beyond to stay connected to their students.

Listen to the episode and learn about the lengths school districts are going to find students and what barriers they are helping students and families to navigate throughout the pandemic.

Upcoming Hearings: The House Public Education Committee posted its agenda for the Tuesday, March 16 meeting.

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