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Recap: Texas House Committee on Public Education

July 29, 2022
The Texas House Committee on Public Education met on July 25 and 26 to discuss interim charges.
Monday Hearing Recap
On July 25 the Committee covered the topics of school finance, teacher incentives, HB 4545 requirements, special education supplemental services vouchers, learning loss related to COVID-19 and chronic absenteeism. On July 26 the Committee heard testimony on the topics of edTPA, K12/Higher Ed/Workforce partnerships, curriculum & instructional materials, and parent empowerment.
Most of the discussion on July 25 centered around the implementation of HB 3 (the 2019 school finance reform bill) and HB 1525 (the 2021 continuation of HB 3). Superintendents discussed challenges districts are facing due to the growing cost of inflation (which has grown by 12% since HB 3 took effect). Seminole ISD Superintendent Kyle Lynch shared that unlike cities and counties, schools have no automatic adjustment to their available revenue year over year, so school funding has been stagnant since the passage of HB 3.
During his testimony, Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods of Northside ISD included remarks about HB 3 being passed nearly 10 years after the $5.4 billion state education funding cuts in 2011 – when Philanthropy Advocates (originally TEGAC) was founded. He noted that in 2011 school districts had received federal funding and the financial environment was similar to what we see today.

Dr. Woods also discussed implementation of HB 3, including remarks about paying for pre-k, implementing reading academies, addressing teacher and counselor shortages through “retire rehire” strategies and many other elements of the bill. He also discussed the implementation of HB 4545 (the 2021 accelerated learning strategies bill) and responded to questions about hardships on teachers with commentary on compensation and increased criticism of education, specifically of teachers. Watch his complete remarks here – comments about the 2011 cuts begin at 4:44 of this video clip.

Kevin Brown representing the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) addressed HB 1525. He encouraged the Committee to consider funding schools based on enrollment rather than attendance and also encouraged policymakers to avoid repeating 2011 or any other measures that would lead to a fiscal cliff for school districts.

The Committee heard testimony from TEA, Disability Rights Texas, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation on the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) Program implemented under SB 1716 from the 87th Regular Session. They also heard from three panels of witnesses on the topic of COVID-19 and learning loss and what schools are doing to address that and meet students' educational needs, including hearing about strategies implemented in HB 3 such as the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), Additional Day School Years (ADYS) and reading academies. Much of the testimony about reading academies throughout the day indicated that there is value in the content, but the implementation of reading academies came at a difficult time for educators to implement while grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday Hearing Recap
View the presentation slides here: On July 26 the Committee began with a conversation about recent edTPA discussions that occurred at both the State Board for Educator Certification and the State Board of Education. Catch up on the latest effective teaching state policy discussions in our overview here.

The Committee then heard from Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Harrison Keller, and Commissioner Bryan Daniel from the Texas Workforce Commission on the topic of partnerships between K-12, higher education, and the workforce. See similar testimony in previous Philanthropy Advocates recaps.

Commissioner Morath then went on to provide testimony on the topics of curriculum & instruction and parent empowerment. Watch his comments about curricular alignment to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) as a strategy to reduce burdens on teachers and improve student achievement. Watch this discussion here.

Mayor Mattie Parker, mayor of the City of Forth Worth, addressed the committee to discuss education to workforce alignment. Fort Worth leaders, including several Philanthropy Advocates members, are focusing on including workforce stakeholders in the regional education/workforce ecosystem to ensure preK-12 education prepares students for postsecondary pathways that lead students to access careers that provide a livable wage. Mayor Parker noted that, while high school tends to be the focus point when addressing college readiness, strategies need to take place sooner in students’ learning to achieve education to workforce alignment goals. Watch her testimony here.

Following invited testimony, the Committee heard four hours of public testimony.
The full meeting is available to watch in two parts: Part One and Part Two.

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