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. This month’s Capitol Update will cover Texas Tribune’s upcoming event, “The Future of Public Education,” as well as a review of House Bill 3 and Monday’s “Power of Pre-K Day.”
Capitol Connections with Michelle
Don’t miss out on Texas Tribune’s upcoming symposium, “The Future of Public Education.” The event will feature a variety of panels on a wide array of topics including the future of school finance, teacher preparation, and the importance of early childhood education. Numerous elected officials and prominent business and education leaders will speak including our Vice President of Programs, Cody Huie.
The event will be held in Austin, beginning the evening of April 1st and ending the afternoon of April 2nd. The Tribune has provided a list of watch parties for those who cannot attend. Be sure to register to attend or learn about hosting a watch party in your community.
Bob’s Two Cents
With 66 days of the 86th legislative session remaining and the bill filing period now over, the legislature will now begin to ramp up its hearing schedules and floor debates. There were over 1,200 education-related bills filed this session. Nearly 60 have already been heard in the House Public Education Committee, with over a dozen of those voted out — including one of the major bills of the session, House Bill 3 (school finance) by Chairman Dan Huberty. HB 3 provides over $9 billion for public education and tax relief. Under the provisions of the bill, the state would invest $6.3 billion in public schools over the next biennium and fund an additional $2.7 billion in uniform tax rate reduction for school districts across the state.
The bill, which is expected to be heard on the House floor in the coming weeks, is a comprehensive plan for improving the Texas public education system. Raise Your Hand Texas strongly supports the bill and its investment in public education and applauds the effort of the House Public Education Committee.
Here are just a few of the major components of HB 3:
1) It requires school districts to provide full-day pre-Kindergarten for eligible four-year-olds. The $780 million provided by the early education allotment is sufficient for school districts to fund a full-day pre-K program. School districts can also use this allotment to improve student performance in reading and mathematics in pre-K through third grade with services designed to assist them in achieving early childhood literacy and mathematics proficiency goals.
- Learn more about Raise Your Hand Texas’ position on full-day pre-K by checking out our pre-K one-pager here.
- Additionally, see how many districts across the state believe in the #PowerOfPreK through our new Pre-K Map. The map, located on our 2019 Session Toolkit, shows how many Texas school districts offer full-day programs, half-day programs, or a combination of both.
2) The bill increases the basic allotment from $5,140 to $6,030. By providing additional new dollars through the basic allotment, schools will have the flexibility to fund both teacher and support staff pay raises as well as other district needs. Increasing the basic allotment also reduces recapture payments by $3 billion over the next biennium, a 38 percent decrease.
- Learn how Raise Your Hand Texas believes the state should invest in public schools through our school finance one-pager here.
3) The bill allocates $2.7 billion for a uniform, 4-cent property tax reduction across the state (depending on overall tax rates, other provisions in the bill may give districts additional tax relief).
4) It creates a Blended Learning Grant, providing funding for districts to plan and implement blended learning programs. School districts with the highest enrollment of economically disadvantaged students will be prioritized in the selection process.
On the Move with Libby
Lately, I’ve been spending less time on the road and more time at the office in preparation for next week’s “Power of Pre-k Day,” a celebration of the power of pre-kindergarten to promote early reading, math, and social/emotional learning skills; supply a foundation for success in college and career; and provide all Texas students a level playing for kindergarten readiness.
On Monday, March 25th, more than 40 participating organizations from diverse backgrounds are uniting to call on the legislature to make this the year Texas funds full-day pre-K for all eligible four-year-olds.
Sen. Larry Taylor and Rep. Dan Huberty will be sponsoring a “Power of Pre-K Day” resolution that will be read from the floor of both the Senate and House. A press conference will be held at 12:00 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol, hosted by Scott McClelland, president of HEB and board chair of the Greater Houston Partnership.
Please consider supporting the #PowerOfPreK by wearing purple and signing our petition here. Signing and sharing the petition on social media will help drive home the message that full-day pre-K is in EVERYONE’s best interest and investing in it ensures long-term growth, not just for our students, but for our state!
We also encourage everyone to share their stories about the transformative power of pre-K on social media using #PowerOfPreK and #StopTheYoyo. While the first hashtag refers to the celebration taking place on March 25th, the latter refers to the opportunity this legislature has to stop the “yo-yo effect” of inconsistent pre-K funding. You can read more about the yo-yo effect of pre-K funding here, and if you haven’t seen our #PowerOfPreK videos featuring prominent Texans and their perspectives on the importance of pre-K, be sure to check them out here.
Raise Your Hand offers several resources to keep you in the loop throughout the session:
- Raise Your Hand Texas is excited to present our 2019 Texas Public Education Poster containing data and statistics regarding Texas public schools. Feel free to download, print and share!
- Check out the new Raise Your Hand Texas Pre-K Map, located at the bottom of our 2019 Session Toolkit. The toolkit is updated daily with our latest policy materials, including graphics that you are encouraged to use and share.
- 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 on our advocacy page.