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Guest Post: Texas educators have earned the higher support of their fellow Texans during pandemic

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance COVID-19 Privatization | Vouchers Testing | Accountability

Date Posted: 2/05/2021 | Author: Jennifer Jendrzey, Raise Your Hand Texas

Jennifer Jendrzey, RYHTIt’s hard to believe that, just over a year ago, many of us didn’t know what Zoom was. Lots of educators never dreamed they’d be doing their job virtually, much less teaching on screen and in person at the same time.
Yet, our public school educators have handled these challenges with grit, grace, and determination.
And Texans recognize and honor their efforts. 
According to the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation’s newest poll on Texans’ perceptions of public education, an overwhelming 92 percent report the same or even more appreciation for their schools than before the pandemic.
Additionally, they are willing to back up that support with greater investment. A majority of Texans continue to say public schools in their community have too little money. And 7 in 10 Texans say public schools need more funding to address COVID-related challenges, such as safety measures, technology, and training. 
This is important as we head into a legislative session with a less rosy budget picture. Due to a dip in oil prices and the pandemic’s impact on the economy, Texas faces a $7 billion funding shortfall. 
Our poll found Texans are clear-eyed about this threat to our public schools. In fact, 84 percent of all Texans, and 88 percent of public school parents, are very or somewhat concerned that a cut in funding would impact the quality of public education.
Texans also continue to express skepticism about public school privatization and how effective the STAAR test is at measuring student learning. Majorities of Texans oppose voucher programs and oppose establishing or adding charter schools in their community if it means reducing funding for their local public schools. In addition, fewer than 2 in 10 call STAAR “very” effective at measuring student learning over time; the quality of the student’s teacher, school campus or district; or how well-prepared a student is for next steps after high school. 
In fact, when given eight options for the single most important factor that makes a good teacher, preparing students for standardized testing comes in dead last.
What does matter to Texans when it comes to teaching? In their poll responses, Texans said the following are important factors to quality teaching: 

  • assessing and planning for all students’ individual learning needs
  • making the class engaging and relevant
  • supporting students’ self-management, interpersonal skills and decision-making skills maintaining an organized and safe classroom 
We should give Texans credit both for having a sense of what’s needed and what’s not needed for our public schools. They supported our educators before the pandemic, and it is clear Texans believe educators have worked hard throughout the pandemic on behalf of students and families. That’s why they support, in even higher numbers than years past, a public school system that is well-funded, fair, and accountable to all it serves.
Texans have spoken — they have educators’ backs. Now, during the legislative session, our state needs lawmakers to do the same, for our students, for our educators, and for the future.
Jennifer Jendrzey is the Vice President of Strategy & Evaluation at Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit organization that invests in programs, conducts research, and advocates for policies that strengthen and improve Texas public schools.


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