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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 17, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 11/17/2023

Texas House strips vouchers from House Bill 1 in effort led by Rep. John Raney (R–Bryan). 

HB 1: In its first floor debate and vote on a specific private school voucher program in nearly 20 years, the Texas House stripped an educational savings account (ESA) program from House Bill (HB) 1 by House Public Education Committee Chair Brad Buckley (R–Salado). On a 84-63 vote, the House passed an amendment by Rep. John Raney (R–Bryan) to strip the voucher provision from HB 1. Following that motion, the House passed another motion to prevent any reconsideration of the Raney amendment. ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter issued this statement after the vote: “The Texas public education community is grateful to Rep. Raney and his colleagues for their determination to stand strong with their constituents and uphold their constitutional duty to provide a free public education for Texas children,” Exter said. “What they did was not easy. We know they have been the focus of untold political pressure to switch their votes on vouchers. We are hopeful the governor and voucher proponents recognize that the unity of the public education community on this issue cannot be broken. It is past time to stop wasting taxpayer money on special sessions about vouchers and instead focus on supporting our Texas public school students and educators by raising the Basic Allotment and increasing salaries to improve teacher recruitment and retention. The Texas public education community and our legislative allies stand together, whether during the umpteenth special session or at the ballot box in March.” Following passage of the Raney amendment, Buckley moved to send HB 1 back to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment, as opposed to moving forward the teacher pay and school finance portions of the bill without the voucher language. 

At this juncture, passing Senate Bill (SB) 2 without amendment is likely the only remaining option to send a school funding bill to the governor’s desk during this special session. SB 2 contains approximately $6 billion in education funding mostly for teacher compensation and school safety. The bill does not contain a voucher, as the Senate voucher is found in SB 1. ATPE members can use Advocacy Central to encourage their House member to send SB 2 directly to the governor.

CAPITAL TONIGHT: ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter appeared on Spectrum News’ Texas Capital Tonight to speak with host Karina Kling about the public education community’s united opposition to private school vouchers in advance of Friday’s vote on HB 1. Watch Exter’s appearance here.

SBOE: The State Board of Education met Tuesday through Friday of this week, and SBOE members grilled Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath on special education, A-F ratings, and more during his regularly scheduled appearance before the board. During the meeting, dozens of Houston ISD educators spoke during public comment about the effects of TEA’s takeover of their district. However, Morath left the meeting before public comment began. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has more in this blog post.

FEDERAL BUDGET: Late Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a continuing resolution that funds the federal government through early 2024. The bipartisan resolution, the work of new House Speaker Mike Johnson, extends federal funding at current spending levels without major cuts favored by conservatives. Government departments are split into two groups for funding, with some funded through Jan. 19, 2024, and others through Feb. 2, 2024—which means two more government shutdown deadlines are on the horizon. 

ATPE PODCAST: In the latest episode of The ATPE Podcast, ATPE Staff Attorney Jeff Kelly discusses educator use of social media and the fine line between exercising your constitutional right to free speech and violating your district’s policies. Listen on your favorite podcast service or watch the video edition on YouTube.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: Many Texas school districts are closed next week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, and the ATPE state office will be closed Nov. 22–24. In addition, Teach the Vote’s Week in Review will take Nov. 24 off, though we will report on any education policy news earlier in the week. We wish you and yours a safe and restful Thanksgiving, and please know how grateful we are to be part of the Texas public education community with you!


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