"Ensuring all students graduate prepared to succeed in college requires effective policymaking hand-in-hand with the people most impacted by our laws. They hold the policy solutions to improve their lives and effect generational change for themselves and our society."
Texas' 86th legislative session saw some of the most significant changes to school funding in decades. Prior to the start of the legislative session, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance met to provide recommendations for how the state could achieve an equitable school finance system.
The commission issued its final report in late 2018 (CPSF, 2018). Many of its recommendations served as a basis for the major House and Senate school finance bills considered during the legislative session that opened in January. Following weeks of hearings and negotiations, the Texas Legislature approved House Bill 3, which impacts property taxes and funding for schools.
Schools serving the 80% of English learners in programs other than
dual language will receive no additional funding from the new weight.
To ensure all students succeed, schools must end policies and practices that create harmful school climates and push students into the school-to-prison pipeline through exclusionary discipline and criminalization. During the recent Texas legislative session, many policymakers focused on "school safety" in response to school shootings.
While some proposals focused on building positive school climates, others prioritized approaches that would make schools less safe for students, including making extreme changes to "harden" facilities, expanding harmful and punitive school discipline, and increasing the number of weapons on campuses.
Accountability Measures Set to Respond to Public Pressure - Changes Made to STAAR -
Individual Graduation Committees Extended
by Morgan Craven, J.D.
The core purpose of school accountability systems is to assess schools' effectiveness and identify areas that need strengthening. Sound, research-based systems must be in place to evaluate how effectively schools support students and how students perform academically.
As the Texas legislative session began in January, several reports revealed that the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) reading assessments did not test at appropriate grade levels (for more on the reported STAAR design flaws, see IDRA's statement: "Reported STAAR Design Flaws in Reading Show Why High-stakes Punishments Should be Removed from the STAAR"). Concerns about the report findings merged with ongoing concerns about testing with high-stakes consequences.
Policymakers approved several bills that could change how districts approach assessments and measure college readiness.
Expanding access to college means ensuring that schools offer all students the courses and opportunities they need to enroll in the college of their choice. It also means that a college education remains affordable and that the path to graduation from college does not contain unnecessary roadblocks.
The Texas Legislature passed several bills aiming to address these goals.
The Legislature approved House Bill 1, the budget for the 2020-2021 biennium. It includes $866.4 million for the Toward EXcellence, Access and Success Grant Program (TEXAS Grant), which provides financial assistance for eligible students to be able to attend public colleges in Texas.
Taking Steps Toward Keeping the Public in Public Education
IDRA joined more than a dozen education advocacy groups to release a policy agenda focused on increasing transparency and efficiency for charter schools.
In addition to House Bill 3, the major school finance bill passed in June, several bills passed that impact charters.
SB 1454 creates guidelines and reporting requirements related to real property and other assets owned by charter schools. IDRA will continue to work with families, educators and other advocates to ensure meaningful accountability and fair resource allocation and management for schools.
Education Impact of Supreme Court Decision on Citizenship Question
IDRA Statement on Education Impact of Supreme Court Decision Blocking Citizenship Question on 2020 Census
On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the addition of a question to the 2020 decennial census about whether respondents are U.S. citizens, a question that would have put education resources at risk for millions of Americans. In the case, Department of Commerce v. New York, the Supreme Court held that the Trump Administration's decision to add the citizenship question "seems to have been contrived."
While the court has rejected the attempt to add a citizenship question now, it has not prohibited the inclusion of the question in the future.
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent private non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring educational opportunity for every child. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.
IDRA works hand-in-hand with hundreds of thousands of educators and families each year in communities and classrooms around the country. All our work rests on an unwavering commitment to creating self-renewing schools that value and promote the success of students of all backgrounds.