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Request for Special Session: Investments in school finance

May 29, 2023
The Honorable Greg Abbott
Governor of Texas
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711
Re: Investments in school finance in the 88th Special Legislative Session
Dear Governor Abbott,  
Philanthropy Advocates, a collaboration with Educate Texas, is a funders collaborative of over 55 Texas foundations. Members of Philanthropy Advocates are funders in communities across Texas – in rural, urban and suburban regions where we are deeply invested in our education systems.
Philanthropy Advocates knows Texas cannot reach the ambitious goals established by the state in Building a Talent Strong Texas without education systems – cradle to career – that equip students for lifelong academic and career success. Specifically, we believe Texas cannot maintain global competitiveness or advance economic mobility for Texas families if state leaders do not double down on proven strategies to support a highly qualified teacher workforce and ensure our public schools have the necessary resources to provide high-quality educational experiences to our students.
Philanthropy Advocates respectfully requests that you add the following school finance items to a call for a special session that would support improved outcomes for students and teachers:
  • Building on Investments Made in HB 3 - Under your leadership, HB 3 (86R) made a historic investment in Texas schools. Texas must continue to invest in what works, while making adjustments to better address the critical and current needs of education systems:
    • Adjust Basic Allotment for Inflation – Both HB 1 and HB 100 contemplated additional formula funding for schools, including an increase in the Basic Allotment. The Legislature heard testimony from multiple stakeholders on the importance of this strategy to address record-high inflation[1] and increase current teacher salaries.
    • Early Education Allotment Adjustment – Both HB 11 and HB 100 as discussed in the regular legislative session included modifying the Early Education Allotment by adding PreKindergarten students to the formula calculations, in addition to Kindergarten-3rd grade students. This modification can help ensure more schools take advantage of offering high-quality, full-day PreK for interested and eligible students. In turn, this will support ongoing efforts under your leadership to improve reading and mathematics proficiency by the third grade, a benchmark that can determine students’ future achievement.
  • Provisions related to the Teacher Vacancy Task Force RecommendationsFor over a year, the Teacher Vacancy Task Force that you established studied and discussed strategies to support Texas teachers. The Legislature has the opportunity to implement key provisions that stand to bolster and develop a high-quality teacher workforce:
    • Teacher Residency Program Support - Creating a sustainable, affordable teacher residency pathway to ensure more students have access to teachers who receive strong, on-the-job preparation can decrease historic attrition occurring across Texas. For the 2022-2023 school year, nearly 30% of newly hired teachers held no teaching certificate.[2] Given that teachers are the greatest in-school factor on student achievement, a focus on rigorous teacher pathways not only strengthens the profession but will also improve student learning and outcomes. 
    • Teacher Workforce Supports - Proposed legislation this session (HB 11, SB 9, & HB 100) also included several other benefits for teachers as recommended by the Teacher Vacancy Task Force such as adjustments to the minimum salary scale, allowing teachers’ children to be eligible for enrollment in PreKindergarten, increasing the Mentor Program Allotment, and providing waivers for the cost of certification fees for candidates who receive 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 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 that you established.
Thank you for your consideration. 
Becky Calahan
Director, Philanthropy Advocates
[1] Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Key Economic Indicators.
2 Texas Education Agency, Employed Teacher Attrition and New Hires 2007-08 through 2021-22

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