We are finally seeing the results of our hard work at the ballot box and at the state Capitol where, as educators, we have fought for greater investment in public education. After more than a decade of inadequate and flat funding borne by our state’s schoolchildren and their teachers, we are beginning to see a real reordering of priorities by our state legislature.
House Bill 3 passed the Texas House today, and is the result of hard and thoughtful work by the Texas House Public Education Committee. The bill provides a significant amount of new funding for our schools, including funding for full-day pre-kindergarten, something Texans have long desired, based on a common understanding of the value of early childhood education. The legislation also provides additional resources to serve economically disadvantaged children, English language learners who make up a large percentage of Texas’ school-age population, and students with disabilities, including dyslexia.
The bill was amended during debate today and now provides for a guaranteed pay raise for Texas school employees. You can read more about it here This amendment guarantees raises in the future any time the Legislature increases funding to what’s called the “basic allotment,” the per-pupil state funding all school districts receive.
This critical school funding legislation in HB 3 complements the recently passed Texas House budget, which also proposes some immediate relief in a supplemental “13th check” for retired school employees and helps strengthen the state’s Teacher Retirement System.
The ball now moves to the Texas Senate’s court. Educators, parents, school boards, along with community and business leaders, are expecting real action in the Senate to match the significant work done by the lower chamber. Our message to the Texas Senate: “Let’s get it done!”
Texas is a wealthy state and our resources should be used to improve the lives of our people—especially our children whose education and opportunities today are the best investment we can make in the future economic success of our state. We remain vigilant and engaged in this process and ask all Texas educators to stay tuned, stay involved, talk to your legislators and insist that our elected officials get the job done.
Texas AFT President
You can follow Louis on twitter @LouisMalfaro