Across the Lawn

June 4, 2021 |

87th Legislative Session Weekly Update  |  Friday, June 4, 2021

The FIVE Things to Know and ONE Thing to Do

Welcome to Across the Lawn, Issue 22.

The 87th Legislative Session adjourned sine die this week. Check out our one thing to do and five 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:

Take Our Across the Lawn Survey

The 87th Texas Legislative Session was one for the history books, and we hope our weekly Across the Lawn emails have been a valuable resource to stay on top of crucial public education issues.

Whether you pored over every word of these weekly updates, or you only skimmed one or two, we want your feedback! What have we done well and what can we do better to guide you through the interim and the 88th Legislative Session?

Five Things to Know:

1. From Michelle Smith, Raise Your Hand’s Vice President of Policy & Advocacy

The 2021 Legislative session was, without a doubt, one of the most unusual and difficult legislative sessions our staff has ever experienced. The inability to connect with legislators and Capitol staff before and during the session due to COVID restrictions presented unique challenges, but we were still able to find success due to our advocacy network’s tenacity and passion for Texas kids.

There is much work to be done during the interim to strengthen relationships with our elected officials, to engage in meaningful conversations on important education issues, and to expand our grassroots network even further. We welcome your engagement throughout the interim as we monitor special sessions, the commission on virtual education, and the usual House and Senate interim hearings.

Please also allow me a moment to sing the praises of the two people who have produced the 20+ Across the Lawn newsletters this session. Bob Popinski and Laura Mellett didn’t even blink when they were asked to take on this project … they just went for it! During a time when education advocates have felt a bit separated, Bob and Laura’s work on this newsletter has brought people together in a way that is informative, engaging, and accessible to a variety of audiences. Thanks, team!

2. TEA Releases Round 2 of Federal Stimulus Funds

On Thursday afternoon, TEA provided schools notification that the application for over $5 billion in federal stimulus funding from Round 2 is now available. School districts’ allocation amounts can be found here.

Please note, while these funds will flow based on the proportion of Title I students similar to Rounds 1 and 3, TEA also announced that it will be reducing school districts’ Round 2 federal stimulus funding based on each school district’s hold harmless for enrollment decline amount for the 2020-21 school year. This means schools will not know the total Round 2 amounts awarded to them until September when TEA “settles up” final school funding amounts for the 2020-21 school year.

3. Bob Popinski, Raise Your Hand’s Director of Policy Recaps the 87th Legislative Session

Be in the know on which of Raise Your Hand Texas’ policy priorities passed and didn’t this legislative session. Read Raise Your Hand’s policy wrap-up.

4. What’s Next: Special Session(s?)

Soon after the end of the 87th Legislative Session, Governor Greg Abbott said he will call a special session to deal with election-related legislation that did not pass during the regular session. Abbott is granted sole authority to call a special session, and there is no limit on the number of special sessions he can call, but they are only 30 days in length. When a special session is called, the items or topics to be considered must be listed in a single proclamation, but the Governor has the ability to expand the call to include any additional topics at any time.

A special session will be required in the fall to address redistricting, but there may be additional items added to the call, including voting and election issues.

There is always a potential for education-related issues to be added to the list of items to be considered during a special session, and Raise Your Hand will be ready to update our advocates, as needed.

5. Stay in the Know and Stay Involved in the Interim

Whether you are ready to get involved, or just want to stay in the know on the big issues in public education, we have the tools to help you do that in the interim. Visit www.raiseyourhandtexas.org/get-involved to subscribe to our newsletter, get legislative alerts, and/or get connected locally with other advocates. Because The Future of Texas Is In Our Public Schools.

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