Raise Your Hand Texas Monthly Update | Wednesday, January 12, 2022
The FOUR Things to Know and ONE Thing to Do
Happy New Year! Check out our four things to know and one thing to do.
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.
Greetings and welcome to our first Across the Lawn edition of 2022! This will be a big year for our organization, and we welcome you on this journey whether you’re an education professional, parent, elected official, staffer, or any of our many advocacy groups. First, I want to share some exciting news with you.
For those of you who have worked closely with us, you are aware that there are two parts of Raise Your Hand Texas – the long-standing policy and advocacy work and our education foundation work, both of which are funded by Charles Butt. Our foundation team is taking the bold step of combining two major parts of Charles’ philanthropic work under one umbrella.
Beginning January 2022, the Raise Your Hand Texas Education Foundation will join with and become the Charles Butt Foundation, rightly placing Charles’ generous philanthropy in education under his named organization. Meanwhile, Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to pursue high-quality policy and advocacy work on behalf of the 5.5 million school children in Texas.
As with any restructuring, you may see some changes along the way. What won’t change is Raise Your Hand Texas’ singular focus on improving the public education experience of all Texas children on behalf of their families and Texas taxpayers. And, of course, the Charles Butt Foundation and Raise Your Hand Texas will continue our shared work and deep partnership.
We’re hitting the ground running in 2022 with a number of new and continuing initiatives and events. Read on to find out the four things you should know and one thing to do.
Michelle Smith, PhD
Raise Your Hand Texas
Four Things to Know:
1. Raise Your Hand Texas to Host Candidate Forums
We are continuing our For the Future candidate forum series for Texas legislative races prior to the March 1, 2022 primary election. As always, these events will be non-partisan, open to all candidates in a given race, and focused exclusively on public education issues. The first forum will take place on January 26, 2022. Visit our website to see an initial list of forums and find out what’s happening near you. More events will be added as they are finalized.
2. Measure What Matters Conversations Continue with First Conference
Our Measure What Matters campaign for accountability reform is picking up steam. We’ll host and live stream our first policy conference on the topic of standardized testing and accountability reform in Austin on Tuesday, January 18, where we’ll hear from practitioners, accountability experts, the Texas Education Agency, and past commissioners of education. We’re also proud to announce the members of our Texas Assessment and Accountability Council, who will help us digest information from the field and form legislative recommendations in the months ahead. Finally, our campaign to engage 10,000 Texans in conversations about accountability continues to make progress. Please reach out to your local regional advocacy director if you’re interested in participating in an accountability listening circle.
3. Our Teacher Workforce Needs Our Help:
You may have heard about challenges staffing classrooms and filling other important staff roles, from bus drivers to cafeteria workers, in your local district. Moving forward, our state must strengthen the pipeline that supports our teacher workforce. We must encourage diversity in our preparation programs and ensure rigorous training that primes our aspiring teachers to be more effective in the classroom on day one. We must also focus on retaining our best teachers with improved working conditions and enhanced opportunities for better pay and professional development.
4. Our Public Schools Need More Support, Not Less:
As the pandemic continues, some states around the country are preparing to offer vouchers as a solution to parent frustrations. Texas has repeatedly and rightly said no to school vouchers, and Raise Your Hand will continue to oppose any sort of voucher program in our state. School vouchers are taxpayer-funded government subsidies given to private schools and vendors without transparency and accountability for results. Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to push back against any form of voucher to ensure our public schools have the best resources available to educate over 5.5 million students.
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