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Raise Your Hand Texas Weekly Update | Friday, January 13, 2023

January 13, 2023  

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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

1. Share Across the Lawn with a Friend

The 88th Texas Legislative Session began this week. Over the 140 days of session, there will be a tremendous amount of focus on education policy issues. Raise Your Hand Texas will provide weekly updates through our Across the Lawn series, including important information on policy discussions and bills moving through the legislative process. We hope this will be useful to not only keep you up-to-date on what is happening at our Capitol, but also provide you the information you need to engage and help shape policy in the coming months.

Your one thing to do this week is to forward this email to someone you think is interested in knowing more about  what takes place at our Texas Capitol related to education policy, and encourage them to subscribe to our Across the Lawn newsletter by completing the form at the bottom of our website.

Five Things to Know:

1. Comptroller Releases Historic Biennial Revenue Estimate

On Monday, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the Biennial Revenue Estimate, an unprecedented $188.2 billion revenue available for general-purpose spending for the 2024-25 biennium. The estimate includes a $32.7 billion ending balance for the current 2022-23 state budget, primarily from substantial increases in sales tax and oil and gas revenue, but also from state Foundation School Program savings of $4.3 billion due to local property value growth. Recapture is projected to increase from $3.3 billion to $4.9 billion per year, due to the significant growth in local property values.

While the comptroller described the available revenue as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for legislators this session, he also acknowledged restrictions on these funds due to state spending limits. Raise Your Hand Texas hopes legislators use a significant part of this available revenue to invest in the 5.4 million students in our state. 

The building block of our school funding, the basic allotment, has not increased since 2019, and record-breaking inflation means education dollars do not go as far as they used to. An increase to the basic allotment will allow school districts to maintain their facilities, invest in innovation, and guarantee raises for teachers and staff each year.

2. Texas House Public Education Committee Releases Interim Report

The Texas House Public Education Committee released its 118-page interim report at the end of December 2022, outlining its recommendations for the 88th Legislature. Last year, House Speaker Dade Phelan issued 11 interim charges for the committee in areas such as assessment & accountability, COVID-19 learning loss, and teacher workforce. Notable recommendations from the committee include reducing financial barriers to high-quality teacher training and investing in teacher salaries and benefits.

3. Texas Commission on Special Education Funding Report Released

Last legislative session, House Bill 1525 created the Texas Commission on Special Education Funding, tasked with making recommendations on the financing of special education in public schools. The commission released its final report in December 2022, with 14 recommendations, including one non-formula based recommendation related to Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). The commission added this recommendation on a 4-3 vote. ESAs are a type of voucher that diverts public education dollars into private accounts which can be used for education expenses, such as private school tuition. 

Raise Your Hand Texas opposes vouchers in all forms, including educational savings accounts. Vouchers divert scarce public education funds to private schools, which are not required to comply with federal protections for students with disabilities or report and track spending and student performance. Public dollars should remain in public schools.

4. TEA Releases Extracurricular and Cocurricular Accountability Indicator Report

The Texas Education Agency released its report on the feasibility of incorporating indicators for extracurricular and cocurricular student activities into our state’s A-F accountability system. The recommendations and findings include:

  • Extracurricular and cocurricular student activity indicators have the potential to meet accountability requirements, would yield additional positive outcomes for students, and can build on existing processes.
  • Implementation may be possible within five years. 
  • The study found that standing up new data collection processes takes significant time and effort for campuses and districts, including extensive training, collection processes, and stipends to support the additional time required from district staff essential for successful implementation.
  • Should legislators wish to proceed with a change to incorporate new indicators into accountability, the Legislature would need to fund a five-year student activity indicator phase-in plan.

Raise Your Hand Texas supports real-time assessments that inform instruction, measure individual progress, and serve as one of multiple measures reflecting a student’s entire educational experience.

Categories: Across the Lawn

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