Last year, the state’s business, civic and political communities came together to pass the House Bill 3 school finance legislation, focusing on the state’s long-term needs rather than short-term politics. The bill made key structural improvements to Texas’ school finance system, such as a renewed focus on our highest-need students; it exemplifies the kind of approach we champion at Texas 2036, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing future challenges.
Key to House Bill 3 is a commitment to close longstanding gaps in student outcomes among the state’s low-income and minority communities through a variety of data-informed programs and incentives. This mission – equitable access to academic opportunity and efficient use of taxpayer funding – should likewise frame the debate as schools resume this fall.
Educators are working night and day to safely begin the new school year. Parents and teachers alike are rightly worried about the spread of infection on campus. But this is Texas, a state known for innovation and getting things done. And while the challenges ahead are real and substantial, we must overcome them. It will take collaboration and support from Washington on down to our local school boards, but Texans can get it done.
In reopening schools, we must be clear-eyed about the unequal impacts school closures and distance learning can have on low-income, minority, and rural communities. Students without adequate broadband access cannot be expected to learn online. Students without parental supports, routine meals, or a safe place to call home cannot be expected to learn at their empty dinner tables.