Purpose and Strategy
The Education Huddle advocates for equitable access to excellent education for ALL of Texas’ public school and college students. We will coordinate with like-minded organizations to develop effective advocacy, media and actionable information. These organizations may include teacher associations and advocates such as Just Fund It.
The interim between sessions provides a great opportunity for our Education Huddle to plan for and develop actions that will influence legislation in the 2021 session. Interim legislative committees will be meeting to discuss implementation of prior education-related legislation and make recommendations for consideration during the next session. Their meetings are good opportunities to become familiar with significant issues. Also, we will look at actions of the State Board of Education which has quarterly meetings in Austin.
- Inadequate State Funding for both Public and Higher Education.
The legislature has systematically underfunded both public and higher education, forcing them to rely on revenue sources that neither low income taxpayers nor students can afford. Recent legislation had partially addressed inadequate school funding, but it’s still insufficient given the increasing number of low income and English language learners who are challenging to teach.
- Underpaid Teachers and Staff.
Texas has an outdated and inadequate system for compensating teachers and staff. As a result, turnover is high, and teachers are not treated with the respect they are due. Along with cumbersome accountability policies, teachers are hard pressed to endure their workplace and then leave the profession, which leaves students with new, sometimes underprepared teachers and staff.
- Onerous Accountability System.
The legislature has established an accountability system that penalizes schools and teachers for educating disadvantaged students. Teachers are forced to devote class time to preparing for the stress producing STAAR exams. Schools and districts are assigned A-F ratings that force them to struggle with perceived low performance.
- Privatization through Charter Schools.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the legislature began allowing charter schools to gradually recruit students to their campuses. Although charter proponents argue they improve education statewide through competition by offering a private school look alike option to parents wanting a better education for their students. The actual result has been reduced funding for conventional schools, siphoning off high performing students, and excluding “problem” students. With the increasing charter school limit, this trend will grow quickly.
- Other High Priority Issues.
- Teaching disadvantaged, English language learner students.
- Student loan debt imposed on college graduates
- Curriculum and textbook adoption by an ideology prone board of education.
Issue Briefs as a Foundation for Action
Issue briefs provide background information and current status of significant education issues. These summaries allow huddle members and others to determine whether and when a Call to Action should be distributed. Briefs can summarize controversies surrounding an issue that helps provide content for a call to action. They prepare members for the next legislative session or keep them informed about the development of important information during a session. They may also point the reader to important issue sources such as Raise Your Hand Texas.
The Education Huddle will prepare several issue briefs prior to the next session.
Partner and Resource Organizations
The following are some of the partner and resource organizations that the huddle will develop or use as resources for our work. Also, links to their policy issues are provided.
- Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) Policy Issues for Texas in 2019
- Raise Your Hand Texas
- Center for Public Policy Priorities
Economic Opportunity Issue Area; features Education Area perspectives
Legislation to Track or Bills
While bills to track have not been identified yet, the top priority issues mentioned above are ones that will likely be addressed by legislation filed in the next session. As noted in the Purpose and Strategy section above, interim committees and the board of education will be meeting and issuing reports prior to the next session. We will be following their work.
How the Huddle will Function
Because huddle members have volunteered to make a difference in education policy, our work should reflect the issues members are passionate about. To do that, members will asked to identify their top issues of interest and then asked to do introductory research and write issue briefs related to those issues. We will hold regular conference calls and provide members the opportunity to work collaboratively so that they are part of a team effort. We want members to see that their work (issue briefs and CTAs), and then participating in the legislative process directly, can make a difference.
If you are interested in being in our huddle, contact Robert Norris at email@example.com.