When making contact with your legislators before the special session starts July 18, here are some talking points to consider.

Teacher pay increase

  • A teacher pay increase without accompanying funding from the state will require cuts in programs and/or personnel. This is not a benefit.
  • Successful teacher recruitment and retention rely on a strong compensation system. Texas teachers are in the bottom third among state average salaries, and Texas is dead last among the states in the amount contributed toward benefits. An overall pay increase and significant contributions toward health insurance must be priorities for the legislature.

School finance reform commission

  • This is a waste of time and a stalling tactic — our school finance system doesn't need more study, it needs more money.
  • House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty had a good start on a school finance reform bill during the regular session that the Senate refused to consider — the House plan would put more money into public schools and should be revived.
  • When school property taxes go up because of increasing property appraisals, those additional funds are NOT going into the public schools — they’re going to the state’s general revenue — and as a result the state’s share of public education funding is dropping, even as expectations continue to rise.
  • Keep tax funds collected for public schools within the public school system without reducing the state’s share of education funding.

School choice for special needs students

  • This is another variant on a voucher program.
  • “School choice” is likely to be foot-in-the-door legislation that will lead to future efforts to expand voucher eligibility to other students.
  • Tuition for high-quality special needs schools is unlikely to be fully covered by the amount of the voucher, so the neediest families will not be able to use the vouchers anyway.
  • This is a diversion from what should be the legislature’s main goal — supporting all students in all public schools.

Prohibition of payroll deduction of association dues

  • This should not be a legislative priority. Not a single student or teacher will benefit from this proposal.
  • School districts are not complaining about payroll deductions. To our knowledge, Districts of Innovation, which have the ability to exempt themselves from this law, have not taken such exemptions.
  • If association dues are disallowed because “the government should not be in the business of collecting dues” (the reason given during Senate debate last session), there is no compelling reason to distinguish them from other deductions, such as charitable contributions and 403(b) deductions. And there is no public policy reason to exempt specific groups from the prohibition (police, firefighters and other emergency personnel were exempted from the regular session bill). 

Before reaching out, read these tips for communicating with your legislators.