Across the Lawn

March 11, 2022 |

Raise Your Hand Texas Monthly Update | Friday, March 11, 2022

The FIVE 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.

The One Thing to Do:

VOTE 2022
Find your election results

Texas has new political maps. Look up who won the primary elections in your community, and see if any races are going to a run-off. You can find out whether or not you’re in a new legislative district post-redistricting using this tool, and enter your address to find your election results.

Five Things to Know:

1. Speaker Phelan Announces House Public Education Committee Interim Charges

In the lead-up to the next legislative session that will begin in January 2023, Speaker Phelan released his interim charges to all of the House committees, including the House Public Education Committee. The reports and any recommendations on these issues are due to the Speaker prior to the start of the next legislative session. The interim charges for the House Public Education Committee include:

  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature.
  • Complete study of assigned charges related to the Texas-Mexico border issued in June 2021.
  • Identify and examine efforts to ensure that parents have a meaningful role in their children’s education.
  • Examine partnerships between K-12, higher education institutions, and employers that promote postsecondary and career readiness and identify current obstacles that public schools, higher education institutions, and employers face.
  • Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce, and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators.
  • Study the effects of COVID-19 on K-12 learning loss and best practices that exist to address learning loss.
  • Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system.
  • Study the unfulfilled recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. Evaluate the state’s progress on assessments and accountability and consider possible legislation to support the recommendations from the report.
  • Monitor and analyze the state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools
  • Examine the causes and contributors for chronic absenteeism in public schools and its impact on student outcomes.
  • Review the impact of investments of the Permanent School Fund by the State Board of Education in businesses and funds owned or controlled by the Russian government or Russian nationals, and determine the need for investment restrictions.
2. Governor Abbott Directs TEA to Create a Task Force on Teacher Workforce Issues

On Monday, March 7, Governor Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to create a taskforce to look into teacher workforce issues in our state. Governor Abbott commented, “the ongoing and increasing shortage of full-time and substitute teachers in schools across the state demands a thoughtful, creative conversation to develop strategies to attract, train, and retain the teachers our students need.”

By Thursday, March 10, the Texas Education Agency announced the members of its Teacher Vacancy Task Force and held its first meeting to discuss topics including statewide trends and teacher certification pathways.

Raise Your Hand Texas looks forward to the work of this task force and hopes the recommendations will help strengthen and improve how our state recruits, develops, and retains teachers.

Last year, Raise Your Hand Texas and the Charles Butt Foundation commissioned the University of Houston College of Education to prepare a comprehensive longitudinal analysis of Texas’ teacher workforce.  For more information please visit: Texas Teacher Workforce Report 2021.

3. National Trends on School Assessment Accountability are Shifting

National and state discussions on school assessment and accountability are changing. Federal recommendations and newly developed accountability plans in multiple states are urging less emphasis on a single test when rating our schools. In mid-February 2022, the U.S. Department of Education encouraged states to develop assessment systems that use multiple measures of academic achievement and follow a competency-based model. Policymakers in Minnesota are discussing adding “well-rounded education” indicators to its system. And in Indiana, policymakers unveiled a new tool that measures students on more than just one test score.

The Raise Your Hand Texas policy and advocacy teams continue to meet with Texans in small- and large-group settings to educate stakeholders about our current accountability system and gather feedback on how our state can measure what matters in our schools.

4. Texas Commission on Virtual Education to Continue its Work on March 30

The newly-formed Texas Commission on Virtual Education will hold its second meeting on March 30.  At the first meeting in late February, Commissioner Mike Morath provided an in-depth overview of our state’s current methods of delivering and funding our remote and virtual schools.

Raise Your Hand Texas believes Texas can and should lead efforts to better utilize technology to provide the best educational opportunities for our students. But we should do so thoughtfully, ensuring the delivery of a high-quality educational experience for all students throughout our state, school districts, or any other providers or vendors.

5. Texans Went to the Polls

Texas held primary elections for the 2022 midterm election cycle on Tuesday, March 1. Voters had the opportunity to vote for statewide offices, including governor and lieutenant governor, as well as legislative representatives and local officials. Notable Republican run-offs include the Attorney General’s race, where incumbent Ken Paxton will square off against current land commissioner George P. Bush. Notable Democratic run-offs include the 28th Congressional district in South Texas, where veteran Congressman Henry Cuellar will face progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. Following a surge in Election Day voting, overall turnout was higher than in 2018, the last midterm primary election.

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