Skip to main content

2021 Philanthropy Advocates Policy Recommendations

Philanthropy Advocates: Restart and Reimagine Public Education

December 18, 2020
Philanthropy Advocates empowers Texas’ philanthropic community to invest and engage in public and higher education policy and advocacy. We work to protect, promote, and improve public and higher education so that all Texas students can achieve their educational goals from cradle to career.
Back in 2018, Philanthropy Advocates constructed, convened and mobilized a “big tent” of advocates and allies in support of school finance reform leading up to and during the 86th Texas Legislature. The effort united philanthropy, the business community, public education advocates and other partners, driving home the message, grounded in data and research, that money matters in public education.
The landmark reforms (House Bill 3) that passed the Texas Legislature in 2019 demonstrated the power of Philanthropy Advocates’ members and the larger advocacy community to generate broad-based, bipartisan support for consequential, critical, historic reforms of our state’s public education system.
Now, as the Texas Legislature returns to Austin this month, it’s not an understatement to call the 87th Regular Session, the COVID Session. The ongoing global pandemic will drive the budget and policies debates across all aspects of state government next year.
There are very clear and immediate funding and policy needs facing our state’s public schools in light of COVID-19. The pandemic is also shining a brighter light and attention on the persistent inequity that plagues our K-12 and higher education systems, as well as our health care system and larger economy.
That’s why, ensuring the integrity and continuity of landmark reforms and public education funding realized in House Bill 3 (2019) is even more critical today. We must also prioritize our state’s investment in high-quality, high-speed broadband connectivity across the state, an issue with greater urgency in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Our data, research and advocacy efforts are driven by three core policy work groups, each focused on essential elements of our state’s public education system. These priorities are even more important in light of the challenges COVID-19 has placed on our education system, our students and our teachers.
Early Grade Success 
Texas philanthropy knows the value of high-quality early childhood education as evidenced by decades of philanthropic investment in ages zero to eight. Overwhelming research indicates full-day, high-quality pre-K paves the way for student success by improving school readiness and early grade achievement. A focus on early grade success is even more critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts are predicting a significant “academic slide,” in particular for young English Learner (EL) and low-income students. English Learners have always made up a significant portion of the Texas public school population. Texas schools educate the greatest proportion of English Learners in the U.S., including 28 percent of the state’s pre-k through 3rd grade enrollment.
Effective Teaching 
Texas must recruit and train diverse and high-achieving teacher candidates into quality educator preparation programs to meet the growing needs of our student population. Teachers are uniquely qualified to understand and re-envision how schools can best serve children. Through research on teacher preparation and with an additional focus on the impacts of COVID-19, our effective teaching legislative agenda focuses on professional needs generally with an emphasis on the short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on effective teaching.
Pathways to College and Career
In Texas, just over 20 percent of 8th graders go on to complete a post-secondary credential within six years of high school graduation, leaving the Texas workforce in demand for high-skilled labor. Creating opportunities for multiple pathways to marketable skills, degrees and industry-recognized credentials supports students, while bolstering our state’s economy, competitiveness and workforce needs. We should continue to examine and address obstacles for students transferring from community college to a four-year institution, as well as examine the impact of COVID-19 on this student population. 
We must confront the immediate challenges facing our state’s public education and higher education systems in the age of COVID-19 and recommit to our state’s public education system for the long haul. The same broad-based, bipartisan spirit that led to school finance and education reforms just two years ago should be embraced during this most challenging legislative session.
It’s time to restart and reimagine education, and Texas philanthropy is ready to stand with state leaders to help make it happen.

Read our 2021 Philanthropy Advocates Policy Recommendations.

Philanthropy Advocates was formerly known as the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC) until August 2020. Previously-created resources, documents and blog posts mentioning TEGAC are still provided on this website for your reference.

October 5, 2017

Capital Tonight Oct. 5: Texas homeowners could pay more under gop tax blueprint

Spectrum News

Texas homeowners could pay more under the GOP tax blueprint We looked at the plan and why some state economists say it'll cost Texas jobs.

Read more
October 5, 2017

State needs $3.2 billion to plug hole in current school funding, study says

Quorum Report

State needs $3.2 billion to plug the hole in current school funding, study says

Read more
October 5, 2017

Study examines effects of funding cuts on Texas schools, students

Texas Public News Service

Funding cuts by state lawmakers left a five-year, $5 billion hole in the budget for Texas public schools between 2011 and 2016.

Read more
October 5, 2017

Texas' 2011 cuts to schools still being felt, report finds

Associated Press

The Legislature's $5-plus billion in 2011 cuts to public education mean that Texas' classroom funding still lags behind its pre-Great Recession levels, with low-income students hit hardest.

Read more
October 5, 2017

The Consequences of Underfunding our Public Schools

Center for Public Policy Priorities blog

Making sure our children receive a quality education is essential for the future prosperity of Texas. To be successful academically, many students rely on programs like tutoring or bilingual education.

Read more
April 26, 2017

How grassroots groups are mobilizing Texans on top issues

Texas Tribune

Five community organizers tell us how they rally people around issues like school funding, abortion and the environment.

Read more
April 4, 2017

Teaching Ricardo: Three things black and brown boys need to excel

Houston Chronicle

“I am in fifth grade and I cannot read and can barely write," my student Ricardo said tearfully...

Read more
March 27, 2017

Texas senate proposes slashing pre-K funding

High Plains Public Radio

The most recent Senate budget plan shows significant funding cuts for the pre-K grant proposal, which is backed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Read more
March 24, 2017

Business Leaders Push Texas Lawmakers to Fund Pre-K

Spectrum News

The fight continues over pre-kindergarten funding. On Thursday, business leaders and educators urged lawmakers to fully fund high quality pre-K through the state's recently established grant program.

Read more
March 24, 2017

Greg Abbott Continues to Push Back Against Planned Cuts to his Pre-K Initiative

Texas Standard

Governor Greg Abbott is not happy with members of the Texas House and Senate who plan to cut funding for high quality pre-kindergarten education. Pre-k funding is one of the governor’s top priorities.

Read more
March 24, 2017

Lawmakers coming up woefully short on pre-K funding

Dallas Morning News

Political posturing and horse trading has left a $236 million grant program to improve pre-K on the cutting room floor in the Senate and the House.

Read more
March 23, 2017

Community leaders call on Texas lawmakers to fund pre-K


Community leaders from across Texas are calling on lawmakers to put more funding into pre-K programming.

Read more

Are you a foundation looking to invest and engage in public and higher education research and advocacy?

Become a Member