The 87th Texas Legislative Session is now well underway. In the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, repairing the Texas electrical grid has become a top priority on an already crowded agenda. For education advocates, this means we need to be loud to be heard. At YES Prep, we are in continual contact with our Houston-area lawmakers to ensure that the needs of our students and families are well represented.
Harold Dutton Appointed Public Education Chairman
Representative Harold Dutton has been on the Public Education Committee longer than any lawmaker, and he was just named chair. There are two YES Prep campuses in Representative Dutton’s district, Northside and Fifth Ward; and he has been a friend to YES Prep and the charter community for a long time. Last fall, his Chief of Staff Samaria Hebert toured YES Prep Northside to review our COVID-19 safety protocols.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Representative Dutton’s education priorities and view of charter schools, you can watch this recent Texas Tribune interview.
Lieutenant Governor Priorities
Last week Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released his legislative priorities for this session. These are bills that will get fast-tracked through the session. They may not pass, but they won’t be ignored. Other than the budget, which lawmakers have promised will fully fund public education, there are three bills that will affect YES Prep and Texas schools:
1) Senate Bill 5 – Statewide Broadband Access
This bill Creates a state broadband development office. That office would annually map out areas that have low access to broadband and administer funding to make broadband access more equitable.
2) Senate Bill 27 – Expanding Virtual Learning Options
3) Senate Bill 28 – Charter School Equity Act
SB 27 and SB 28 have not yet been filed, but we will put out a summary of the bill on the bill tracker as soon as the bill language is available. It is exciting to see that virtual learning and charter school equity are top of mind this session.
Bills are now being referred to committees and hearings will begin next week. As soon as bills that affect charters are heard in a committee hearing (the first major step in a bill’s journey), we’ll start tracking them on the YES Prep Advocacy page. In such a busy session, if a bill isn’t heard within the next month, it isn’t likely to pass. That tracker will be live, so feel free to check in on it anytime. We’ll also be keeping you updated on major bills in this monthly newsletter.
Stand with Public Charter Schools
Every day, Texas public charter schools like YES Prep are changing lives. Our students deserve educational opportunities and an incredible community of educators is delivering for them. Right now, lawmakers are hearing from charter opponents while preparing to pass laws that will impact our schools. So we need to stand together. We must be heard. Sign this petition to show you stand with our school. Please share this with your friends and family! Every voice should be heard.
YES Prep's Advocacy Page
You can visit our YES Prep Advocacy Page for information throughout the session! There you’ll find our bill tracker, key information about charters, and ways that you can get involved in our advocacy efforts.
If you have any questions about our advocacy efforts, reach out to Sarah Landsman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 12 - Bill Filing Deadline
May 31 - Sine Die (Last Day of Session)
June 20 - Veto Deadline
August 30 - Bills go into effect