Across the Lawn

September 30, 2022 |

Raise Your Hand Texas September Update | Friday, September 30, 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:

Prepare for the 88th Legislative Session
Building the Future of Texas Together

As the 88th Legislative Session approaches in January, Raise Your Hand Texas announced its policy recommendations for the Texas Legislature. Education is always on the ballot, and support for local public schools and teachers has never been more important.

Learn more about our policy recommendations by reading our press release and visiting the Policy page on our website.

Five Things to Know:

1. Raise Your Hand Texas Panel Discusses School Funding

On Thursday, September 29, Raise Your Hand Texas hosted its third installment of our Across the Lawn event series to discuss important issues in education policy. This installment’s discussion focused on school funding and our state’s finance formulas. Our panelists included Hawley ISD Superintendent Dr. Cassidy McBrayer, TASBO Associate Executive Director of Policy and Research Amanda Brownson, and Longview ISD Board of Trustee Ted Beard.

Each brought a unique perspective to the discussion on school funding, including valuable insights on how our funding formulas can be improved, how school boards navigate a complex array of tax policy and funding pressures, and how school administrators implement state policy at the local level.

Texas continues to rank in the bottom 10 in the nation in per student funding, about $4,000 below the national average. Raise Your Hand Texas believes investing in public school students should be a priority every session. For our recommendations on how to continue investing in our students visit: Where We Stand on School Funding.

2. Teacher Workforce Issues Discussed at Texas House Hearing

The House Public Education and Higher Education Committees held a joint hearing on September 20 to hear testimony on the state’s teacher workforce issues. The testimony included discussion on current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators.

Raise Your Hand Texas’ very own Teacher Specialist, JoLisa Hoover, was invited to testify on the work our organization has been doing over the past year to listen to and elevate our teachers’ voices. JoLisa emphasized, “When teachers talk about solutions, pay and workloads are major factors in keeping them in the profession.”  She also stated, “Our teachers have risen to the challenge of pivoting to virtual, teaching through a pandemic and being tasked with overcoming interruptions to learning. But this has come at a cost and our teachers’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. In listening to Texas teachers, we listened to classroom experts and their ideas about how to improve their profession because the solutions that work in Brownsville and Burleson may not be the same solutions that work in Bartlett and Bangs.”

For more on the hearing visit CBS Austin KEYE’s Fred Cantu reporting here.

3. The Charles Butt Foundation Releases 2022 Texas Teacher Poll

Feeling undervalued, underpaid, and overworked, vast numbers of Texas teachers are seriously considering leaving the profession. Yet a new statewide survey by the Charles Butt Foundation identifies promising retention strategies related to improved support and working conditions.

The survey of a random sample of Texas public school teachers finds that 77% have seriously considered leaving the profession, up 19 percentage points in two years. Moreover, 72% have taken concrete steps to do so, from preparing résumés and conducting job searches to interviewing for another position. Even excluding those nearing retirement age, six in 10 expect to move on within five years.

Read the full report here.

4. 31 Texas Schools Named 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recognized 297 schools across the county as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2022. Congratulations to the 31 Texas schools receiving this honor! The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Congratulations to all of our Texas 2022 National Blue Ribbon schools!

5. New Report Details How Vouchers Divert Billions in Funding from Public Education

A new Florida Policy Institute report estimates $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds will be diverted to school vouchers this school year in Florida, about 10% of the overall funding the state budgets for public schools. This does not include the estimated $1.1 billion taken from state funds used for tax credit scholarships claimed by businesses that donate to voucher programs. That amounts to $2.4 billion taken away from Florida’s public schools through vouchers to benefit the private schools and vendors. It is clear vouchers hurt public schools, and we must keep programs like this from impacting public schools in Texas.

Raise Your Hand Texas has always believed public dollars should remain in public schools. Students, parents, communities, and businesses rely on public schools to provide high-quality education and ensure a bright future for Texas. Vouchers divert public education funds to private schools, neglect our most vulnerable students, and lack transparency when it comes to spending and outcomes.

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