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A Look at the State of Early Childhood Education, Higher Education, and the Texas Workforce – Texas Legislative Panel

September 17, 2021
Philanthropy Advocates had the privilege of hosting our members during our Educate Texas Fall Policy Convening to hear from a legislative panel that highlighted the importance of early childhood education, bills passed in the 87th Texas Legislature, and public and higher education’s impact on Texas’ workforce.

Panelists included:

Chair Angie Chen Button of the House International Relations and Economic Development Committee, and Vice-Chair of the House Early Childhood Caucus;

Chair Philip Cortez
of the House Urban Affairs Committee; and

Vice Chair Brad Buckley
 of the House Public Education Committee and Vice Chair of House Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Each legislator has a unique education experience, and all agreed with Chair Button as she spoke on the importance of people being able to work, while having access to safe and effective options for childcare, no matter the individual’s job or income.   

Vice Chair Buckley addressed school accountability, acknowledging the need for a better way to continue to hold schools accountable. Additionally, he emphasized a need for children to be reached at home, to better enhance their education and cut delays caused by learning loss, suggesting schools directly partner with parents to do so. Further considering community needs, Vice Chair Buckley emphasized the need for skills being taught in community colleges to match the jobs needed to serve communities.   

The legislators considered virtual learning and the path forward as a need for a virtual option continues. Their comments suggested school districts want to follow policies set by the state, but there is a need for clear guidance as well as understanding. They suggested a one-size-fits-all approach is not best for the varied needs across the state.  

Our panelists concluded with their thoughts on bipartisanship in the legislature. Chair Cortez spoke of the respect colleagues have for one another despite differing opinions and chambers. Although they may not always agree on how to address issues, Chair Cortez said there is strong agreement that working hard together has created paths of friendship and respect for members, helping them fix issues impacting the state. 

Legislation Highlighted by the Legislative Panel:

Chair Button:
  • HB 1792 by Rep. Button (R) – Relating to the evaluation of child-care providers participating in the Texas Rising Star Program.
  • HB 2607 by Rep. Talarico (D) – Subsidizes childcare providers to participate in the Rising Star Program with the Texas Workforce Commission
  • HB 619 by Rep. Thompson, Senfronia (D) – Develops improvements to professional development for child-care workers to reduce turnover
  • SB 2081 by Senator Menéndez (D) – Pre-k programs from school district or private provider enrollment rates
Vice Chair Buckley:
  • Funding for HB 3 (86th Legislative Session) remained constant
  • HB 1525 by Rep. Huberty (R) – Cleaned up public school finance system and public education code
  • SB 1365 by Senator Bettencourt (R) – Built framework for district to respond to accountability system regarding Covid
  • HB 4545 by Rep. Dutton (D) – Creates ways for school districts to receive federal money and addresses ratios for classrooms with workforce shortages
Chair Cortez:
  • HB 3348 by Rep. Pacheco (D) – Allowed and expanded the number of bachelor’s degree programs community colleges could offer
  • HB 695 by Rep. Martinez (D) – Supports the establishment of a law school in the Rio Grande Valley
Thank you to our esteemed panel for taking time from their brief break between specials to share their thoughts and insights as we prepare for the 88th Legislative Session.

Philanthropy Advocates, a collaboration with Educate Texas, serves as an integral part of the Policy and Advocacy team at Educate Texas. View Educate Texas’s approach to policy and advocacy.

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