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Several hundred school board members and school administrators participated in the TASA/TASB Legislative Conference February 21, 2023, at the Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol. (Mouse over the above slideshow and then click on the arrows to flip through photos from the event.)

The Education Committee Chairs on Top Priorities this Session

TASA President Gonzalo Salazar led a Q&A discussion with Senate Education Committee Chair Brandon Creighton and House Public Education Committee Chair Brad Buckley.

Teacher Shortage

Creighton said that a “first-of-its-kind Teacher Bill of Rights” is forthcoming, noting that surveys of teachers have shown that safety is at the top of teachers’ lists of needs (even before increased compensation), along with “feeling validated and heard.” He said that the intent of the bill of rights is to “make sure they’re lifted up and supported” with measures to ensure teacher safety as well as an across-the-board teacher pay raise, which he said was “paramount to include in our budget culture.” He also mentioned replenished funding for the Teacher Incentive Allotment. “We want to lift up and remind teachers that we appreciate and love them, and express that through legislation,” Creighton said.

HB 4545

Buckley noted that reform of HB 4545 is a priority for his committee, given all the feedback he and other legislators have received on the legislation, which was passed last session in response to the challenges that the pandemic placed on student learning. It prescribed strict requirements related to tutoring at-risk students. Creighton said that it’s clear that “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t work and that he’s looking forward to hearing more from school leaders and teachers on changes that need to be made to that legislation. Buckley said that there is merit in offering the support to at-risk students, but flexibility is needed because “What works in Bartlett may not work in Mexia.”

School Safety

Both chairs noted the high priority that school safety will have this session. Buckley mentioned that “there has to be flexibility” so that school leaders can make the decisions that are right for their communities. Creighton stressed that school safety is at the “top of the list,” including a re-evaluation of recent changes made to truancy law.


Both chairs indicated there would be consideration of a variety of bills related to “school choice,” meaning vouchers, education savings accounts, etc. Creighton said that in his committee there will be a “balanced consideration” of those bills that includes testimony from those who support and oppose those bills, noting that he wants to hear from school leaders on these proposals. Buckley said he believes we must have full discussion of this topic given there are 150 House districts in which there are constituents with very different opinions on the matter.

Team Texas Public Education

Rep. Gina Hinojosa, a member of the House Public Education Committee, Rep. Hugh Shine, and Sen. Royce West participated in another panel discussion at the conference. Hinojosa thanked the audience of school leaders for their hard work, acknowledged the struggles of the past few years, and said that “We’ve got to be Team Texas Public Education this session. Together we can deliver for our kids.” Hinojosa also voiced her strong opposition to vouchers in any form.

Shine, who has a background in business and finance and served in the Texas Legislature the first time in the late 1980s, talked about HB 31, an enrollment-based school funding bill he co-authored with Hinojosa. “Texas is only one of six states that still use ADA,” he said, adding that the State of Texas is funding only 95% of enrollment using this method. “In business, you don’t make plans for 95% of what costs will be,” he said. Hinojosa noted that with the rigorous accountability system in place for schools in Texas, funding based on attendance doesn’t make sense because school leaders are already motivated to have students in class.

Legislators’ Tips for Public Education Advocates

“Have a frank discussion [with your representative]. Get into the details. And do not leave without telling a good story [about particular student successes, etc.]. We hear the negative all the time, so please tell us your good stories.” —Brad Buckley, House Public Education Committee Chair

“It’s so important that we hear from you [school leaders]. We hear from lobbyists and others who sometimes try to drive in a wedge, so we need to hear directly from you.” —Brandon Creighton, Senate Education Committee Chair

“If it’s an issue that is important to you, why aren’t you talking about it on talk radio? Use the tools available to you, talk to reporters. If you want to make an impact, you’ve got to make it an issue back home.” —Sen. Royce West, veteran legislator and member of the Senate Education Committee

“Set up weekly conference calls with your legislators during the session” so that you can provide information and guidance that will shape legislation as it advances. —Rep. Hugh Shine

Find more information on the TASA/TASB Legislative Conference.