Teachers and school staff in Texas have been berated by elected officials about the need for accountability — the importance of quantifying their instruction of students. The state’s largest school district, now occupied by a Texas Education Agency-appointed superintendent and board of managers, will soon force its teachers into a performance-pay scheme.
If accountability is so important — if numbers don’t lie — why is the state of Texas sitting on a $32.7 billion surplus without spending a cent of it to fully fund public schools? How far do the rankings need to fall?
We unpack the attempted private school voucher coup that derailed any significant progress for public education in the Legislature.
Take 5 minutes this weekend for two actions with big impact.
Threats to public schools aren’t just coming from our state government. We have news from D.C.
Unpacking the Legislature: School Privatization
Rio Grande Valley community members, including McAllen AFT, protest outside an April stop on Gov. Abbott’s voucher roadshow. Photo by Clarissa Riojas.
Over the course of the regular legislative session, one topic cast a shadow over the entire public education conversation. That topic wasn’t the harmful overtesting of our state’s children. That topic wasn’t our state’s severely underfunded classrooms. That topic wasn’t even our state’s severely underpaid and disrespected education workforce.
Discussions of private school vouchers overshadowed all these important issues and sidetracked any progress on addressing them. As was discussed earlier in our “Unpacking the Legislature” series, the voucher issue directly tanked any hope for even a meager increase in education funding that legislators put on the table this session.
Even though our members’ advocacy stopped the Legislature from passing vouchers in the regular session, their shadow has not yet been lifted. This week, we unpack why our legislators have prioritized diverting funds to private institutions instead of fully funding our public schools. We also look to the future as we prepare for the next chapter of this assault on public education.
U.S. Congress Could Slash Education Funding by Billions
In Washington, D.C., last week, the Republican-controlled House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee announced a new bill that could result in the removal of an estimated 220,000 teaching positions nationwide.
The bill calls for $64 billion in budget cuts next year, with more than $20 billion of those cuts aimed at education programs.
In its current form, the bill would reduce U.S. Department of Education funding to its lowest levels since 2006. These cuts would affect both K-12 education and higher education funding. Notably, the plan would cut Title I grants to Local Education by $14.7 billion, down to just $3.7 billion in total.
Despite these billions of dollars in cuts, the subcommittee did increase funding for one program: charter schools. The bill would increase Charter School Program (CSP) funding, which goes directly to new and expanding charter schools, by $10 million.
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Your union is dedicated to helping you thrive. That’s why the team at Share My Lesson created this space, with the help of local AFT leaders, to serve as your one-stop destination for high-quality, educator-vetted materials for teachers, higher education faculty, and school staff.
Texas education news from around the state that’s worth your time
📖 Teachers strong-armed to get on board with Houston schools takeover.Since the Texas Education Agency appointed Mike Miles to lead Houston ISD, he has faced community protests by citizens opposed to the state agency’s takeover. But he has maintained that schools are embracing his changes. But interviews, email correspondence, and audio recordings of campus meetings that the Texas Observer obtained contradict Miles’ public relations message that there is widespread teacher support for his program. (Texas Observer, July 14)
🎧 A perfect day for the Legislature to go away.After a 7-month standoff, Republican leadership in Austin finally settled on their plan to offer property tax relief to Texans. Plus, Jeremy reports from the border on the fact that Texas’ security efforts are often actually just getting in the way of Border Patrol. Join the conversation with Scott Braddock, editor of The Quorum Report, and Houston Chronicle political writer Jeremy Wallace. (Texas Take podcast, July 14)