Education Chairs in the Texas House and Senate are committed to Funding Education this Session. This message was made clear by both State Representative Dan Huberty (R, Houston), Chair of the Texas House Public Education Committee and State Senator Larry Taylor (R, Friendswood), Chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee. They appeared today as a part of the virtual Texas Tribune Festival.
The Legislature has guaranteed districts full funding for the school year’s first 12-weeks at the average attendance from last year. In-person learning and virtual attendance will be equally funded. Some districts have reported student losses of up to 30 percent from last year. Many of these students are being homeschooled. In some cases, parents have found other alternatives. Districts have 12 weeks to get these students back in school or lose their funding.
Both Chairman Huberty and Chairman Taylor emphasized they are committed to the teacher raises and incentive programs in HB3. The bill, which modernized funding of Pre-K through 12th-grade education in Texas, was over 300 pages. They expect tweaks will be necessary to correct some unintended consequences. Still, they are both committed to leaving the basic allotment alone and continuing to find ways to fund the bill.
Asked about new funding sources that may be necessary to continue funding education at the new levels, both men said there had been no serious discussion of new funding sources. The COVID-19 shut down of the Capitol has prevented the regular committee hearings where conversations like this would take place. Both expressed that, if required, new funding sources may be postponed until future sessions.
A bright spot has emerged from the Pandemic: a greater embrace of technology in schools. Chairman Huberty said members of the Legislature have wanted to replace school books with technology, but the resistance was high. This summer, the state purchased and distributed 2-million devices to students to facilitate distance learning. Both were excited at the prospect of more use of technology in Texas schools in the future.
The 87th Texas Legislature gavels-in on January 12, 2020. CLICK HERE to stay up to date with the 87th Texas Legislature by subscribing to our public policy newsletter.