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Special Session: School Finance & Vouchers

We’re talking about the special legislative session that began Oct. 9, and the intense financial pressure facing Texas public schools.

Gov. Greg Abbott has called state lawmakers back to Austin with strict orders to complete some unfinished business from the regular legislative session that ended back in May. And if you listened to our legislative recap episode, you know there’s a lot of that when it comes to education policy.

But it’s not teacher pay raises, increases to per student funding to help districts keep up with inflation, or reforms to the state’s standardized testing and accountability system the governor has directed lawmakers to tackle. It’s passing an Education Savings Account that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private schools.

There are a lot of reasons why this is bad policy for Texas, and so many lessons we can learn from the mistakes of other states that have already adopted these voucher-type programs.

In this episode, we’ll hear from Raise Your Hand Texas’ Michelle Smith, executive director, and Bob Popinski, senior director of policy, alongside Channelview ISD superintendent Tory C. Hill, State Rep. Abel Herrero (HD-34), Josh Cowen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University, and Jolene Sanders, advocacy director at The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities as they discuss their views on the current funding crises facing Texas public schools and what’s at stake during the Special Session.

Read Transcript HERE.

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Previous Episodes


Rulemaking: How Agencies Change the Rules of the Game

We’re talking about a big change that’s about to wallop Texas school districts. At the end of September, as lawmakers approach an anticipated special session this fall on private school vouchers, about one out of every four public school campuses will see the letter grade that marks their performance in the state’s A-F accountability system […]

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Rethinking the STAAR Test

How we measure success in Texas public schools? Right now, standardized testing and an A-F accountability system that assigns grades to campuses is used almost entirely to grade our schools. Accountability, and the transparency it brings, is essential. We need to make sure the 5.4 million students in Texas public schools are provided with the […]

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Podcast Episode Speakers Headshots

Recap of the 88th Texas Legislative Session: A Session Out of Balance

The 2023 legislative session started with a lot of promise. Lawmakers had a historic $33 billion dollar budget surplus, and there was energy and consensus to address a number of public education issues. Instead, lawmakers failed to give Texas public schools enough funding to even keep up with inflation, much less provide teacher pay raises […]

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Intersect Ed Podcast Graphic for Teacher Mentoring Episode

Mentoring Teachers to Create High-Quality Classrooms

 The formalized practice of having more experienced teachers coach those newer in the profession has the potential to help with a major challenge facing Texas public schools — teacher shortages. It also benefits everyone involved, from the experienced teachers acting as mentors who now have a chance to learn new skills, to the newer […]

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Intersect Ed Podcast on Teacher Pay

Teacher Pay: Texas Teachers Deserve a Real Pay Raise

With just a few weeks left in the 88th Legislative Session, lawmakers are deciding how to spend a record-breaking $33 billion surplus, with tens of billions more in estimated growth in revenue over the next two years. And, as the hours creep closer and closer to the last day of the 2023 legislative session, they […]

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Vouchers and Education Savings Accounts - what do they mean for Texas?

The School Voucher Debate: Texas Rural Communities

We’re taking on a topic that has become a marquee fight of the 88th Legislature: private school vouchers, which are also known as education savings accounts (ESAs). On one side, we have our state’s two most powerful elected officials, Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who say every parent should get the freedom […]

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Raise Your Hand Texas podcast episode on school finance and the basic allotment in the 88th Session.

How Much Is Your Student Worth to Texas? Learn How the Basic Allotment Impacts School Districts.

 What is the amount of money Texas pays to educate a student in public schools? What’s known as the basic allotment is the per-student sum the state uses as the foundational building block to determine how much money it will pay to educate a student. Learn why it should be increased in the 88th […]

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Advocacy and the 2021 Legislative Session

Listen to the episode 15 podcast about advocacy and the 2021 legislative session.

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Digital Divide Podcast Part 1

Bridging the Digital Divide: What Challenge Does Texas Face? (Part 2)

Deep in West Texas is the tiny town of Presidio – a remote community that is 90 miles away from the nearest McDonald’s and more than 150 miles away from the nearest Walmart. So what does a remote city like Presidio have in common with more urban areas hundreds of miles away in the Rio […]

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Digital Divide


From students using restaurants’ WIFI to parents spending hundreds of dollars a month on hotspots for their children’s schoolwork, our state’s public education system has been changed forever by the pandemic. In this podcast episode of Intersect Ed (part 1 of 2), we focus on the digital divide — what it is, who is affected […]

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