Monday, May 22, 2017

#TXLEGE: Larry Taylor's quiet revolution....


"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."
Galatians 6:8

This is very, very good:
The Texas Senate approved 21-10 a bill early Monday morning that would inject about $530 million into the public education system while creating a so-called school choice system that would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition.

House Bill 21, originally would have injected $1.6 billion extra into the public school system through updating and adding various elements to the school funding formula. However, the Senate has reduced the extra funding to about half a billion dollars, which would go to pay for:
  • $150 million for about 150 school districts that will lose so-called Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction funding in September through a hardship grant program. The amount of grant money such school districts would receive would be based on their tax rate.
  • More funding for school district construction and establish such funding for the first time for charter schools. 
  • Funding for schools to educate students with dyslexia.
  • $20 million grant program for public schools to educate students with autism in third grade and lower.
  • A state commission to study and make recommendations on how to improve the school finance system.
The Austin school district would not receive any extra funding from HB 21....
Here's the thing: For as much as we would love to dismantle the socialized education industrial complex, that's...probably not feasible...in the short to medium term. Too many people have a romantic attachment to so-called "public schools."  In our pluralistic society, a short-term compromise that moves the ball forward in terms of parental choice and simplified funding formulas would represent tangible progress for students and taxpayers.

And, from that place of tangible progress, we can prepare our next ask.

We concur with this statement from TPPF:

TPPF Applauds Legislation Providing Education Savings Accounts for Children with Special Needs

House Bill 21 includes education savings accounts for special needs students
AUSTIN – Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) Dr. Kevin Roberts, executive vice president of TPPF, and Stephanie Matthews, senior policy advisor with the Center for Education Freedom at TPPF, issued the following statements on the Texas Senate passage of House Bill 21, as amended, relating to establishment of an education savings accounts (ESAs) for children with special needs.  
          "Parents of special needs students can be grateful for this important step to secure the best educational option for their children," said Roberts. "In spite of the heroic effort of public school teachers, sometimes a special needs child will flourish in a different school. Congratulations to the legislators who recognize this fact, giving parents an additional tool for helping their kids."

          "Nothing is more important to the future of our state than education," said Matthews. "This bill opens doors to Texas students by providing more funding and empowering parents of the most vulnerable students with options. With this bill, parents of special needs students will have the ability to determine the best educational environment for their child."
Finally, we would like to thank Chairman Taylor for addressing the concerns we raised during our committee testimony about the price-tag.  Chairman Taylor cut over $1 BILLION from the fiscal note between the committee hearing and last night's floor vote.  This development can only help.

Bottom Line: With major school finance changes unlikely to cross the finish line this session, Chairman Taylor's efforts represent a quality starting point for future efforts.

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