Education is Always on the Ballot

September 13, 2022 |

Contact:
Anne Lasseigne Tiedt, APR
Senior Director of Strategic Communications, Raise Your Hand Texas
[email protected], (512) 784-3805

Education is Always on the Ballot

Raise Your Hand Texas Releases Policy Priorities for the 88th Texas Legislative Session

AUSTIN, TX (September 13, 2022) –

With the November election less than two months away and the Texas Legislature gaveling into session in January 2023, Raise Your Hand Texas releases the public education advocacy organization’s top policy priorities. 

“Education is always on the ballot, and we know, contrary to national narratives, that support for local public schools and teachers has never been more important,” said Michelle Smith, Ph.D., executive director of Raise Your Hand Texas and a former school teacher. “Our work around the state and at the Texas Capitol is focused on investing in our students, measuring what matters, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, and investing in our public schools.”

 “We’re keeping public education at the top of voters’ minds and lawmakers’ agendas,” Smith said.

Raise Your Hand Texas’ policy priorities reflect opportunities to meaningfully invest in public education. Texas parents’ ratings of public schools and teachers are the highest in the history of the Charles Butt Foundation’s polling on education. Raise Your Hand Texas has aligned its policy priorities with the most significant challenges and issues facing public education today.  State leaders are expected to address the most significant challenges facing public education today, including funding, a strong teacher workforce, and staving off threats to public schools from school voucher and privatization efforts. 

Raise Your Hand Texas’ 88th Texas Legislative Session policy recommendations include:

Investing in Our Students

  • Increase the state’s overall investment in our public school students and in public education programs
  • Create an automatic annual adjustment to the basic allotment–the building block for per-student funding–to address inflation and growing education needs of our schools

“The continued recovery and future strength of our public schools requires a strong investment in public education, our students, and teachers,” said Bob Popinski, senior director of policy at Raise Your Hand Texas. “Money matters in public education, and state leaders must prioritize investments in Texas students and schools for a stronger Texas.”

Retain and Recruit a Strong Teacher Workforce 

  • Invest in additional teacher recruitment strategies, including scholarships for aspiring teachers
  • Strengthen teacher development by raising the standards for all education preparation programs and providing meaningful professional development opportunities.
  • Support teacher retention through increased compensation and benefits packages, adequate administrative support, and sustainable work environments.

New survey data from The Charles Butt Foundation finds 77% of teachers have seriously considered leaving the profession. “Morale is dramatically low with only 17% of Texas teachers saying they feel valued,” said Popinski. “Recruiting, retaining and supporting our teacher workforce must be a top priority for state leaders.”

Support Public School Choice and Oppose Vouchers

  • Support school choice and innovation within the Texas public school system.
  • Oppose any form of vouchers that use taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools or vendors. 

“Time and again, Texas lawmakers have roundly rejected voucher schemes and privatization of education, recognizing the threat to local, community schools and the students they serve,” said Popinski. “Texas public schools already deliver robust and innovative school choice options for their students. State leaders must reject any effort to siphon money from public schools for unaccountable private schools or homeschools.”

In the fall of 2021, Raise Your Hand Texas launched Measure What Matters a statewide, year-long initiative to bring together educators, administrators, testing, and public education policy experts to propose a new system for testing and accountability, one that no longer relies almost exclusively on a high-stakes, single day test. In October 2022, Raise Your Hand Texas will release its Measure What Matters Report, which will include recommendations from a group of diverse local and statewide experts making up the Measure What Matters Council. 

Initial policy recommendations on assessment and accountability include: 

Assessment and Accountability 

  • Assessments should be one of many tools to track student progress overtime
  • Assessments must help inform classroom instruction
  • State testing should not be used for high-stakes student decisions
  • Consider aligning the number of state tests with federal requirements or using alternative assessments at the high school level (ACT, SAT, TSIA)
  • STAAR should not be the only determining factor in Texas public school accountability ratings
  • The accountability rating system should reflect multiple, measurable indicators that provide information about the effectiveness of schools 

“While we’re proud of the gains Texas students made in STAAR testing post-pandemic, there’s much work to be done to measure what matters, reforming our state accountability and assessment system to inform instruction better, track student progress, and more holistically assess the performance of schools and districts,” said Popinski.

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ABOUT RAISE YOUR HAND TEXAS

Raise Your Hand Texas supports public policy solutions that invest in our students, encourage innovation and autonomy, and improve college and workforce readiness. For more information, visit www.RaiseYourHandTexas.org 

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