We are happy to report that the 83rd legislative session concluded with some much-needed gains for Texas' public education system. While still billions short of complete restoration, lawmakers passed a budget that added back $3.4 billion cut from Texas schools last session. They also passed one of the biggest education reforms in years, House Bill 5, geared at giving Texas high school students more graduation options, reducing the number of tests they must pass to graduate, and increasing the number of charter schools while also tackling charter school accountability.
In this legislative wrap-up issue, you'll find in-depth information on major public education legislation passed during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session. We also included important information on the impact some of these new policies will have on our state and private foundation grantmaking.
Now that the legislative session is over, TEGAC is aggressively exploring next steps on how to continue to provide objective data, mobilize foundations in advocacy efforts, and enhance public awareness of important education issues for the state during the interim period. In many ways, this is the most exciting time to be involved, so we encourage you to participate as part of TEGAC if you have not yet done so.
Also, please don't forget to participate in TEGAC's members-only legislative wrap-up webinar on Monday, June 24th from 10:00 am to 11:00 am CST. Log-in instructions were sent individually this week, but please contact us if you are a member and did not receive them.
Finally, a big welcome to the Dallas Foundation, TEGAC's newest member! With the addition of Dallas Foundation, we are now up to 17 members from foundations across the state!
Finally, as always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or would like to learn more about Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium. Have a great weekend!
Restoration of (Some) Cuts to Public Schools:
Last session's $5.4 billion cut to public schools was as historic as it was troubling for school districts. Back in 2011, TEGAC mobilized to ensure that objective data about the cuts was available. That data was part of a large and broad-based effort to restore the crippling cuts to schools. With bi-partisan support the Legislature restored $3.4 billion of the 2011 cut. While a big step in the right direction and a victory for Texas students, some of the most important components of the state budget - including pre-kindergarten - were not fully restored. You can read more about the budget decisions and their implications for the ongoing public school finance debate here.
Looking toward 2015, pre-k will likely be a big deal with the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funds.
Governor Signs House Bill 5 and Implements Big Changes to Accountability:
The biggest education policy story of the 2013 Texas Legislature was the passage of House Bill 5 by Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen). HB 5 makes significant changes to how Texas tests its students and to high school curriculum. HB 5 reduces the required number of end-of-course exams from 15 to five and creates additional opportunities for students not on a college-bound course of study. The bill became controversial among many concerned about a reduction in the rigor of public education and about new requirements to opt in to harder classes and a college-ready curriculum but passed with little opposition in its final version. Despite rumors of a possible veto, Governor Perry did sign the legislation into law. You can read more about House Bill 5 and its implications here. Governor Perry did choose to veto two other accountability bills.
Good News for High Quality Charter School Expansion, But Bad Apples Beware:
Foundations were among the first and strongest supporters of high quality charter schools. Unfortunately, with time more and more poor performing charter schools began to give the entire charter school movement a bad name making expansion politically difficult and fiscally unwise. In 2013, the Texas Legislature took a big step to shut down low quality charter schools and allow for the gradual expansion of charter schools across the state. Senate Bill 2 by Chairman Dan Patrick (R-Houston) received strong bi-partisan support. Foundations concerned about charter school quality and the impact of their investments in charter schools should applaud this legislation. You can read more about the specifics of the bill here.
After-School, Summer, and Extended Day/Year:
Big news on the policy front for out-of-school time in Texas. For the first time ever, the Texas Legislature passed, and the Texas Governor signed, legislation specific to after-school, summer learning and extended day/year policy. The law creates an Expanded Learning Opportunities Council of key stakeholders focused on increasing the quality of and access to out-of-school time programs. This new law is of particular interest for foundations for a couple of reasons. First, surveys conducted by both TEGAC and Commit! in Dallas show that foundations are very interested in out-of-school time. Second, the Council created by the law is required to include a philanthropic representative as well as educators, business people, law enforcement, and others. The Afterschool Alliance puts the legislation into national context here
TEGAC Statewide Follow Up Friday Series
All spring long during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium hosted breakfast meetings across the state to follow up on the discussions started during the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Day at the Capitol last February. These "Follow Up Friday" events provided an opportunity to reflect and explore the local impact of the policy decisions happening at the Capitol around the public education issues that are most relevant to each community, including: (1) accountability and assessment; (2) teacher quality; (3) school finance/budget; (4) early childhood education; and (5) charter school expansion and quality.
In these meetings, participants received the most up-to-date information about legislation affecting public education policy as a result of the 2013 Texas legislative session and its impact on private grantmaking in Texas. Participants also heard from a panel of experts in each city to explore more deeply the public education policy issues that Texas grantmakers care about.
The series kicked off in San Antonio with a panel of local experts on early childhood education and charter school quality, followed by a meeting in Houston with local experts Mike Feinberg from KIPP, and early childhood experts from United Way of Greater Houston and Collaborative for Children. The next stop was Dallas, where North Texas grantmakers met with former TEA commissioner Mike Moses, Raise Your Hand Texas CEO David Anthony, and Executive Director of Commit, Todd Williams. Finally, in early June TEGAC hosted an Austin meeting that included Dr. Uri Treisman from UT Austin, State Rep. Mark Strama, and Dr. Patricia Lopez of the Texas Center for Education Policy.
TEGAC will be hosting a meeting in Amarillo in collaboration with the Amarillo Area Foundation in mid-July and has plans to visit the Gulf Coast region in the fall.
Houston Chronicle Editorial: Challenges Remain for Schools
Houston TEGAC members Powell Foundation and Simmons Foundation authored an editorial with Children At Risk explaining what the partial restoration of public education funds means to Texas grantmakers. Read the editorial here:
|TEGAC MEMBERS ONLY LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP WEBINAR - MONDAY, JUNE 24th @ 10:00 am CST
The votes are in and the ink of the veto pen is dry. How did public education fare at the Texas Capitol in 2013? What do changes in budgets and policy mean for philanthropy? Please join TEGAC for a members-only conference call and webinar to discuss the work of the Texas Legislature on
Monday, June 24th from 10:00 am - 11:00 am CST.
We will discuss what cuts to public schools were restored and which were not. We will examine changes to the state's accountability system and high school curriculum and what those changes mean for students, parents, and foundations. We will examine the Governor's vetoes. We will talk about the players and their perspectives. Most importantly, we will talk about opportunities for philanthropy to support public education policy during the legislative interim and again at the Capitol in 2015. JasonSabo
with Frontera Strategy will moderate the call, so you can expect lively and candid conversation about politics and policy.
Log-in instructions were sent separately to TEGAC members this week but please contact Jennifer Esterline if you did not receive them.
Second Phase of Data Project Findings are Out
|Doing More With Less: Public Education in a New Fiscal Reality - Phase II Research Findings Are Out!|
Phase II of the research project done by Children At Risk and commissioned by TEGAC has released its findings. They are now housed on the Texas Tribune website and accessing the data on the impact of the cuts by school district is simple.
You can access the full report here: http://childrenatrisk.org/research/education/more-with-less/
You can access data by district on the Tribune website here:
About Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium
In 2011 the Texas Legislature approved historic cuts to funding for public education. Foundations across Texas have seen successful public/private partnerships threatened or eliminated by budget cuts. Also, demand for scarce foundation dollars is increasing as community groups see their revenues eliminated from school district budgets.
In response, a geographically and politically diverse consortium group of foundations is joining together to promote, protect and improve public education. The Consortium is designed to be a forum and serve as a focal point for organizing philanthropic efforts. In some cases the Consortium seeks to pool funds from multiple foundations to increase the impact of its advocacy efforts. The Consortium is partnering with policymakers, the media, the business community, academics, advocates, parents and others to ensure the broadest dissemination of its work.
Foundations with all levels of interest and experience in advocacy grantmaking are welcome to participate. Because every foundation is different and the needs of the Consortium are so diverse, there is a place for every foundation in the Consortium.
How do foundations join the Consortium?
Foundations are encouraged to become members of the Consortium. When appropriate, members may decide to make a financial contribution to the Consortium. Contributions will cover the costs of research on the impacts of budget cuts, support for multi-foundation events like the 2013 Education Funders Day at the Texas Capitol, and basic administrative overhead such as printing and travel costs. The suggested contribution is $5,000 annually; however, Consortium members are encouraged to contribute at an amount commensurate with their endowment size. The Consortium has created a fund at the Austin Community Foundation to accept contributions. Contributions can be forwarded to the Austin Community Foundation at:
Austin Community Foundation
C/O: Paula Lange, Finance Manager
4315 Guadalupe, Suite 300
Austin, Texas 78751
Tel: 512 472 4483
What are the benefits of membership?
Foundations that join the Consortium will receive:
- Bi-monthly legislative and policy updates
- Up-to-the-minute information on the localized budget impact data produced by CHILDREN AT RISK and available via the Texas Tribune website
- Annual summary of the impact of changes to education funding for all school districts
- Media related exposure (if desired)
- Logo placement on Consortium materials (if desired)
- On-going training on the legal parameters of foundation and nonprofit advocacy
- Participation in the Education Funders Day at the Capitol in February 2013 and 2015
Additionally, members can self-elect to be involved in developing the Consortium's strategy by participating in the Consortium's Leadership Committee.
To learn more, please contact
Jennifer Esterline, Project Consultant, Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.796.4530.