NEISD 2021 Legislative Agenda
On November 9, 2020, the North East ISD Board of Trustees adopted a 2021 state legislative agenda in preparation of the 87th Texas Legislature. The agenda encourages state lawmakers to protect school finance, recalibrate accountability, strengthen the teacher pipeline, increase charter transparency, and address needs uncovered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agenda will help guide discussions between staff and elected officials during the 87th Texas Legislature, which begins January 12, 2021 and ends 140 days later on May 31, 2021.
Pause accountability, recalibrate, and build upon the progress of previous legislation to create an equitable and accurate accountability system.
NEISD looks forward to administering the STAAR/EOC tests in the spring of 2021. Assessment data is critical in creating effective district/campus strategies to address areas outlined in the District Instructional Improvement Plan (DIIP) and the Campus Instructional Improvement Plans (CIIP). However, current standards in our accountability system do not account for long-term learning loss during a pandemic. We must consider that a normative standard constructed before this loss may not be appropriate for our children in 2020-2021. The state should use this school year as a transitional year to gather baseline data and update the accountability system to accurately reflect the performance of students, schools and districts.
Protect Public School Funding
Protect the Foundation School Program and, if reductions are necessary, consider pausing the implementation of certain HB 3 elements rather than cutting Basic Allotment or allocations that are based on student need.
House Bill 3 of the 86th Legislature was a significant step in modernizing the school finance system in Texas. It is imperative that we sustain and build upon the improvements made by the bill. We must not cut education funding in these critical times.
Strengthen the Teacher Pipeline
Invest in programs that build a larger, racially-diverse teacher workforce.
The teacher workforce in Texas does not mirror our student population. In 2018-2019, the student population in Texas was close to 53 percent Hispanic and the teacher population was close to 58 percent White. Texas needs multiple strategies to attract more diversity to the profession.
Increase Charter Transparency
Improve transparency of charter operations, beginning with applications and amendment requests and including board governance and impact on local school districts.
Charter applications and amendment requests should include specific locations of proposed new campuses, locations of existing charters, and impact analysis on local school districts. The state should require charters to have local school boards who are accountable to the communities they serve.
Address Needs Uncovered by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Create a statewide standard for reliable, high-speed broadband access and improve capacity across the state.
While teachers and students are learning virtually, high-speed broadband connectivity has become a necessary school supply. Improvements must be made to internet capacity across the state, and we must have a statewide standard for reliable, high-speed broadband access to ensure that digital learning is optimized.
Improve efficiencies in the Technology and Instructional Materials Allotment to reflect current needs.
While there is great flexibility in how school districts spend the Technology and Instructional Materials Allotment, there is often little funding remaining after a textbook adoption to invest in technology. School districts need greater purchasing power to implement a 1:1 device initiative and support other technological resources. The state should require publishers to include full pricing transparency in all contracts with the ability for districts to order “à la carte” to increase spending efficiency
Encourage state policy and programs that address trauma-informed care and recognize the impact of the pandemic on child and adult wellness.
We should expect a lasting impact of the pandemic on child and adult wellness. From food insecurity and homelessness to mental health crises, Texas families face a long road ahead to recovery.
North East ISD is the second largest public school district in San Antonio. It serves a diverse student population of more than 60,000 students across 144 square miles. With 70 campuses, 10 magnet programs, 30 industry certifications, fine arts and athletic programs, full-day prekindergarten and a bilingual education program, students have numerous paths to success.