Please tell the Governor to HO-HO-HO-Hold Our Schools Harmless
Six years ago, we wrote to you to ask for high-quality, full-day pre-K across Texas for eligible kids. And you helped deliver on that request! We also asked you to not bring vouchers — no matter how they’re wrapped — to Texas. Thanks again!
This year, we’re writing to you again. Here’s why:
We’re worried our schools are about to lose a whole bunch of money. Every two years, the state uses student attendance projections to estimate public school funding. At the start of every school year, schools update those estimates one more time to set their budgets.
You know, make the list — check it twice.
However, the pandemic and student enrollment declines of more than 4 percent in some districts have thrown the projections off course. Kind of like trying to steer your sleigh without Rudolph.
This December, if the Texas Education Commissioner doesn’t continue to fund schools based on historic attendance — a technical term called “hold harmless” — it is possible schools may find coal in their budget stockings instead of much-needed funding. That means they will have to lay off teachers or cut programs next semester.
Businesses and families have been reeling from the pandemic, and our public schools, as the heart of many communities, have been there for Texas throughout the crisis. Teachers and school staff are the elves of our local communities. We have a long road to recovery and our public schools are needed now more than ever.
For many reasons, tens of thousands of students have not returned to in-person or remote learning. Despite the best efforts of schools to find many of these students, some are simply not coming back in the short term. But they will. And when they do, they need to return to schools that are fully staffed, with programs in place to provide direct interventions for any learning loss, something we know is impacting many, especially our low-income families and communities of color. In the meantime, districts still have to cover all the hard costs associated with running schools.
Santa, we know you believe in the potential of all students, and we do too. Clarity from the State of Texas is needed now to help our public schools navigate the pandemic and ensure they meet the needs of their students. The issue simply can’t wait for the legislative session to arrive. Santa, it’s a simple and straightforward move that the State can and should take today.
This year’s been hard enough on everyone, Santa. We don’t postpone the holidays just because preparing for them is challenging. Our educators didn’t push off their responsibility to support students and families when the pandemic hit. And state leaders shouldn’t delay in acting to support our teachers and principals.
Santa, next year has to be better than 2020, and that starts with a holiday season filled with job safety for school staff — from teachers to custodians, bus drivers to principals, and everyone in between — and resources to support all students.
Can you do that Santa? We believe.
Raise Your Hand Texas
Let’s help Santa make this a very Merry Christmas. Please contact your House and Senate members and urge them to contact the Governor. The 2020-21 hold harmless must be extended through the end of the school year.