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Public Comment: Investing wisely in our 5.5 million students and teachers

July 17, 2023
Texas cannot maintain global competitiveness or advance economic mobility for Texas families without ensuring our public schools have the necessary resources to provide high-quality educational opportunities for our students and to support a highly qualified teacher workforce.

We urge the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment to consider policies advanced in the 88th regular session to support students and teachers:

Build on Investments Made in HB 3 (86R) - Texas must continue to invest in what works, while making adjustments to better address the critical needs of education systems:
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  • Adjust Early Education Allotment (EEA) - The EEA is intended to serve Pre-K through 3rd grade students, but not all of those students currently generate the allotment dollars. HB 100 (88R) included modifying the EEA by adding Pre-K students to the formula calculations, in addition to K-3rd grade students. This modification supports ongoing efforts to increase access to full-day Pre-K to improve reading and math proficiency.
 
  • Increase Choices in High-Quality Early Learning - HB 3 (86R) encouraged school districts to expand Pre-K options available to families by encouraging school districts to partner with high-quality childcare programs (Pre-K partnerships). Unfortunately, different thresholds between childcare eligibility and Pre-K eligibility have made Pre-K partnerships difficult to implement. HB 1614 (88R) created a grant program through TEA to narrowly address this eligibility gap, in turn increasing the number of families who could participate in high-quality early learning settings.
 
  • Adjust Basic Allotment for InflationBoth HB 1 and HB 100 (88R) contemplated additional formula funding for schools. This is an important strategy to address record-high inflation[1] and increase current teacher salaries.
Teachers: Prepare + Pay = Recruit & Retain – The Teacher Vacancy Task Force - assembled at a time when Texas has experienced record high teacher turnover - discussed strategies to support teachers. By prioritizing support for teacher residency programs as a complementary strategy to compensation increases, Texas can create a sustainable pipeline of highly skilled and dedicated educators who are equipped to meet the needs of all Texas students.
 
  • Teacher Residency Program HB 11 and SB 9 (88R) designed a paid teacher residency pathway to decrease teacher turnover and ensure more students have access to teachers who receive on-the-job preparation. For the 2022-2023 school year, nearly 30% of newly hired teachers held no teaching certificate.[2] Evidence shows that new teachers who had high-quality residency experience are as effective as teachers with 3 years of experience.[3]  A focus on rigorous teacher pathways not only strengthens the profession but will also improve student learning.
 
  • Teacher Workforce Supports - HB 11, SB 9 & HB 100 (88R) included several benefits for teachers such as adjustments to the minimum salary schedule, increasing the Mentor Program Allotment, allowing teachers’ children to be eligible for free enrollment in Pre-K, and providing fee waivers for certification in special education or bilingual education. These strategies support a comprehensive approach to ensuring our Texas teacher workforce is supported and prepared to meet the needs of our students. 
 
Investing wisely in our 5.5 million students and teachers stands to improve postsecondary success rates and ultimately will ensure the state meets goals articulated in both the Building a Talent Strong Texas plan and by the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

Philanthropy Advocates appreciates the Committee's efforts to meaningfully support Texas students and teachers.
 
[1] Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Key Economic Indicators. https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/key-indicators/
2 Texas Education Agency, Employed Teacher Attrition and New Hires 2007-08 through 2021-22 https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/employed-teacher-attrition-and-new-hires-jbl220825.pdf
[3] National Council on Teacher Quality, Clinical Practice. https://www.nctq.org/review/standard/Clinical-Practice

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