August 16, 2021
Raise Your Hand Texas knows the future of Texas is in our public schools. That’s why, as we look toward the promise of a new and better school year than the last, we’re sincerely concerned about the limited options available to school leaders, locally elected school board members, and local health officials as they work to keep all of their students safe.
The best place for most students to receive a high-quality public education is in person, not in front of a computer. Our amazing Texas teachers have gone to great lengths to teach students virtually and in person, sometimes even at the same time. But despite teachers’ best efforts, the pandemic has caused student performance to decline precipitously as evidenced by recent STAAR scores.
During an August 10th Senate Education hearing, Commissioner Mike Morath said the state has likely lost ten to twenty years of statewide educational gains due to the strain put on our teachers and students by COVID-19. This loss of learning will likely have an impact far beyond the next few years, particularly for our students of color and emergent bilingual students, and will inevitably have a significant impact on our state’s future workforce.
There are no easy answers to the challenge of getting as many students as possible back into a physical classroom. We’re watching as states like Mississippi, Indiana, and Georgia open their school doors and then close them again within a matter of days due to the shockingly large number of students in quarantine for possible COVID exposure. Texas is a large and varied state, and the Delta variant is a far more virulent strain. Locally elected officials should be able to work with their local public health officials and families to keep kids especially those youngest Texans not yet eligible for a vaccine, safe.
As Texas students return to school this month, the doors will open, teachers and students will arrive, and the learning will begin. How long we can keep those doors open is up to all of us. And we at Raise Your Hand Texas stand ready to support our educators and students any way we possibly can. A strong Texas recovery requires a strong recovery of our public schools and their students.