Capitol Update: February 7, 2019

February 07, 2019  

Welcome to the 86th Legislative Session! The Capitol Update will provide you with expert insight and analysis on legislative issues impacting Texas public school students and educators. Hear straight from our directors of Governmental relations, policy, and advocacy, and get receive the information you need to get involved and stay connected to what’s happening under the dome this session.

Capitol Connections with Michelle

It’s the beginning of February and the 2019 session is in full swing! As director of governmental relations, I’ll be updating you throughout the session regarding what’s going on at the Texas Capitol and how you can effectively engage with your elected officials.

House and Senate Committees have been named and we’ll be focusing mainly on the following:

Don’t know who your House and Senate members are? Click here to find out!

Now would be a great time to reach out to your House and Senate members, especially if they’re on one of these important committees, and introduce yourself. Tell them you’re a constituent, thank them for their service, and encourage them to support their public schools throughout the legislative session.

With legislators already prioritizing public education this session, it’s an exciting time to advocate for Texas students and educators. For the first time, we have created a handy Session Toolkit where you can sign up to be an advocate and share social media content and graphics to support public schools. With your help, this legislative session will result in greater investment, innovation, and improvement in our public schools.

Bob’s Two Cents

Understanding how complex policy decisions influence an even more complex school finance system is no simple task. As director of policy, I am providing our supporters with a high-level overview of the discussions, ideas, and policies affecting school finance.

As we end the fifth week of the 86th Legislative Session, things are still just getting started for many at the capitol. However, important policy discussions on the future of our school finance system are already underway. The policy team is monitoring legislation and analyzing proposals discussed in committee hearings.

This week, the House Public Education Committee held a series of hearings on school funding. The meetings included a school finance 101 presentation and discussion of recommendations made by the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. The committee’s February 12 and 13 hearings will allow stakeholder input on school funding issues. When we share our thoughts with the committee, they will focus on the five things Raise Your Hand Texas believes are essential to a solid school finance plan.

One of the topics receiving significant attention is the controversial proposal to tie school funding to student test scores. Raise Your Hand believes funding any part of our school system based on student test scores will create inequities and unintended funding consequences. Schools need consistent funding to effectively operate and maintain their programs, and test-based funding is an unproven and unreliable way to strengthen and improve schools. Ultimately, high-stakes testing runs the risk of punishing schools that need sustainable funding the most. Raise Your Hand will continue to urge policymakers to keep the state’s school finance system separate from the state’s accountability system, and ensure all schools receive the support they need. Read our brand new policy paper for additional information about test-based funding.

On the Move with Libby

Since joining the Raise Your Hand team as director of advocacy in August, I’ve been traveling across the state to get to know you, our public education friends and supporters, and to better understand the challenges and opportunities different school districts face. So far, I’ve been to just over 40 communities and 70 school districts. I look forward to providing you snapshots of what is happening on the ground in different areas of the state.

Here’s where I’ve visited most recently:

  • The Permian Basin: The growth of fracking means Midland and Odessa are boomtowns once more-and that rapid growth poses unique challenges for their public schools.
  • Cypress-Fairbanks: The state’s third largest school district continues to combine strong academic results, robust extracurricular participation, and fiscal efficiency. Still, their Community Leadership Council is clear that substantially more funds are needed to keep up with a growing, changing student population.
  • Alief: Raise Your Hand alumni of our leadership programs are well represented in Alief! We worked with their superintendent to develop an advocacy plan for the legislative session.

I’ll continue to crisscross the state even as session picks up steam. Keep an eye out for me!

Staying Informed

Raise Your Hand offers several resources to keep you in the loop throughout the session:

  • See what Raise Your Hand Texas is up to this session with our 2019 Session Toolkit. This is updated daily with our latest policy materials, including graphics you are encouraged to use and share!
  • Review our new policy paper about test-based funding.
  • Want to know how fellow Texans feel about our education system? Check out the results of our new Texas Public Education Perception Poll.
  • Join us in standing up for public schools! Sign up to get involved by texting RAISEMYHAND to 40649 or by filling out our form in our advocacy page.

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