Testimony: School Finance Commission recommendations

Back

At Texas Aspires, we believe every child deserves every opportunity to reach their full potential. This belief drives our mission to ensure a high-quality education beginning in the early years, schools that meet students’ needs, well-supported and well-compensated teachers, and preparation for fulfilling careers. If Texas provides these opportunities, we will be well on our way to achieve our ambitious 60×30 Texas plan.

Testimony to the House Public Education Committee on the School Finance Commission’s report and recommendations, February 13, 2019:

Good afternoon. My name is Will Fullerton, and I am the executive director of Texas Aspires, a non-partisan, non-profit working in partnership with education, business, and community leaders to provide greater opportunity for Texas students by improving education in the Lone Star State.

I want to thank you for your time today and thank the School Finance Commission for their work to create a plan that will move the State of Texas forward.

At Texas Aspires, we believe every child deserves every opportunity to reach their full potential. This belief drives our mission to ensure a high-quality education beginning in the early years, schools that meet students’ needs, well-supported and well-compensated teachers, and preparation for fulfilling careers. If Texas provides these opportunities, we will be well on our way to achieve our ambitious 60×30 Texas plan.

If we commit to forward-thinking policies, in 2030, our current first graders will be graduating high school prepared to be successful in a post-secondary pathway of their choosing, and a majority of our current 8th graders will have completed a certification, two-year, or four-year program.

Achieving 60×30 requires an immediate funding focus on multiple parts of our education pipeline.

As such, we support the commission’s recommendation to align P-12 goals with our state’s higher education goals and hope to have meaningful conversations about how that translates into policy.

Texas Aspires believes four recommendations from the commission will drastically improve student outcomes:

  1. Targeted increases in state public education funding focused on equity,
  2. State-funded full-day pre-k for all eligible 4-year-olds,
  3. State funding for the effective educator allotment, and
  4. Additional state investments that incentivize critical outcomes in 3rd-grade literacy and college, career, and military readiness.

Over the past several sessions, Texas Aspires has fought to bring merit pay for effective educators statewide. We are thrilled that the commission has suggested infusing significant new state funding into locally developed compensation structures that reward results. We believe these programs that identify our most effective teachers should:

  • Have multiple measures,
  • Target high priority areas, including hard-to-staff subject areas and schools,
  • Encourage strategic staffing,
  • Reward teacher leadership and mentorship roles, and
  • Provide significant and sustainable pay increases to effective educators.

We know that while teachers are the biggest in-school factor to student success, principals are critically important to creating and sustaining strong schools.  We would encourage the committee to consider merit pay and strategic staffing initiatives that reward our strong campus leaders and place them in schools that need them the most.

We also encourage the committee to strongly consider several other recommendations including:

  • Funding for districts to offer an extended school year to prevent summer slide,
  • Universal administration of SAT/ACT/TSI to high school juniors, and
  • Extending CTE funding to middle schools.

As the legislature considers much-needed school finance reforms, the Texas Aspires team will be available as a resource to ensure that new state dollars make a measurable impact. 

Print
We believe every Texas child, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code, deserves a quality education. You can help make that happen.