Editor’s Note: The video above shows KXAN Live’s top headlines for Oct. 6, 2023. Ryan Chandler will have more on this story later Friday.
AUSTIN (Nexstar) — When lawmakers convened for Texas’ 88th legislative session in January, teachers and public schools across the state were eagerly anticipating a bigger slice of the state budget — to combat inflation, a mass exodus of teachers, and challenges still lingering from the pandemic, they conveyed at the time. Ten months later, they are still waiting to see any change to their bottom line.
Gov. Abbott’s call for the third special session, which begins at 1 p.m. Monday, puts education front and center. He long promised to call legislators back to business to pass his top educational priority of subsidizing private school tuition with state money. It’s a plan he argues will allow more families to access private schools that better fit their children’s needs. Public schools, however, are absent from his legislative wish list.
“It’s our mistake,” President of the Texas American Federation of Teachers Zeph Capo said Thursday. “We should have rented trucks to tell the governor to fund public education. Unfortunately, we were busy taking care of students in the very schools the governor seems content to let crumble” (this week, some school choice advocates reportedly sent mobile billboards to sit outside the homes of some House members).
The governor previously pledged to increase public school funding in the regular session.
“Public schools play an essential role in our state… We’ve provided more funding for public education and more funding for teacher pay raises than ever in the history of our state. And this session, we’ll do even more,” he said in his February State of the State address. “To be clear, under this school choice program, all public schools will be fully funded for every student.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has also stood firmly behind a commitment to give teachers a raise.
“We’re gonna get it done in the special session,” Patrick told Nexstar last month. “We’re gonna do our job, and we’ll get a teacher pay raise. My wife was a teacher—my daughter-in-law—my mother-in-law. I did my student teaching. I love teachers. They are the most important person in a child’s life outside of the parent, and they deserve to be paid as professionals and not just like another job because it’s not just another job.”
The Senate is already making that item a priority. At 2 p.m. Monday — one hour into the special session — the Senate Finance Committee plans to hold a public hearing “regarding legislation that includes teacher compensation and funding for public schools.”
This coverage is ongoing and will be updated throughout the day. Check back here for updates.