WHAT ROLE DOES THE CONSORTIUM PLAY IN TEXAS PHILANTHROPY AND EDUCATION POLICY?
The Consortium bridges the gap between pragmatic advocates and impact-oriented foundations to support advocacy to protect and improve public education in Texas.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE CONSORTIUM?
The Consortium’s members include 53 family, corporate, community, and private foundations from across Texas. To our knowledge, the Consortium represents the largest foundation policy collaborative anywhere in the country.
WHAT DOES THE CONSORTIUM DO? HOW ARE ACTIVITIES PAID FOR ?
The Consortium is a campaign, not a new nonprofit. Membership dues of $5,000 per year plus optional research and advocacy grants support.
The Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (“TEGAC” or the “Consortium”) is a funders’ collaborative that was created in 2012 to unify grantmakers around a multi-year effort to build support for and improvement in public education in Texas in response to the historic cuts made to public education by the Texas legislature during the 2011 session. Foundations are directly impacted by these cuts and are responding with a united and respectful voice of concern.
The Consortium’s work is changing public education policy in Texas and, maybe even more importantly, changing how philanthropy more broadly approaches public policy. Now is the moment for education grantmakers to make their voices and concerns heard. Policymakers want to hear from philanthropy – particularly from the benefactors and trustees of foundations. Foundation leaders working to make grants in the field of public education should consider themselves to be a resource for Texas policymakers. It is our responsibility as experts in understanding what works in the field of public education to speak up as advocates and thought leaders in the public education space.
View our Membership FAQ to learn how to join TEGAC.Our mission is to empower Texas philanthropy to invest and engage in effective public education policy and advocacy at the state level.
The Consortium’s vision is to protect, promote, and improve public education in Texas so that all Texas students can achieve their educational goals from cradle to career.
In RGV, TEGAC Director, Jennifer Esterline, refers to HB3 saying, "...This is the beginning of the story. We need to continue to talk about what else it is going to take to get us to the 60×30 goals that the state has identified.”
Jennifer Esterline discusses philanthropy, advocacy, and our new home with Anette on Education.
Group hosts recap for educators, foundations
Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part story on a recap of the legislative session. Part 2 will run Thursday.
By GRACE JUAREZ
The Lufkin Daily News
The Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium hosted an 86th Texas Legislative Session recap for educators and organizations at the T.L.L. Temple Foundation in Lufkin Tuesday morning. The consortium had several speakers during the recap. Executive director Jennifer Esterline said the general purpose of these meetings they are hosting across the state is to reach out to local philanthropists.
“What we’re trying to do is to get philanthropy folks like the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and the place that Wynn (Rosser) sits in as the president and also his trustees involved in conversations about public education policy. We came
together in 2011 because of the $5.4 billion budget cut. A $5.4 billion cut to public education is also a $5.4 billion cut to the investments that private philanthropy has made in public education.”
Esterline refers to the work of foundations like Temple as public/private partnerships and says the foundations have a responsibility to communicate with their legislatures about the work being done in their communities because they understand what’s going on.
“We feel like it’s a really important voice to have in the building, so we came together in 2011 in response to the cuts to do two things: serve as a resource and a thought partner with lawmakers as they do this work and to make sure that the Legislature knows that we are a private partner in a public/private partnership,” she said.
TEGAC provides unbiased research to lawmakers and advocates on behalf of the issues of educators across the state, she said. They desire to fill data gaps in four
major areas — school finance, early childhood education, pathways to college and careers, and effective teaching — so lawmakers can make better decisions.
After Esterline spoke, Kate Kuhlmann with HillCo Partners gave the majority of the legislative recap. HillCo Partners is a public affairs firm in Austin working as
an advocacy consultant with TEGAC.
Kuhlmann gave overarching information on the general session, and she went into detail on specific bills that were hot topics for education.
During this legislative session, Kuhlmann said $5 billion was given to reduce property tax rates in 2020, and added a 2.5% compression in 2021, which would
limit the growth in tax revenue (school districts with property values that grew
2.5% or more would see tax rates automatically lowered to keep revenue growth
The Legislature also gave a $6.5 billion increase to school funding, and of that
number, $2 billion went to enhancing compensation for teachers, counselors,
librarians and nurses and $2.4 billion went to fund enrollment growth for an
additional 65,000 students per year.
Article III, all of the spending on education in the state budget, represents about 55.6% of the general revenue funding of $118 billion, she said.
Senate Bill 500 appropriates $9.9 billion in all funds and $6 billion from the
Economic Stabilization Fund. About $1.1 billion was spent for teacher
retirement, including an extra annuity check.
It also dedicates $806 in aid for Hurricane Harvey-affected schools and $110 million for school hardening and safety.
The school funding increase shifted the state’s share of public education costs
from 38% to 45%.
“That is significant because we heard from many organizations and advocates out
in the field that the burden had shifted over time to depending more on local
property taxes and less on the state,” Kuhlmann said. “A lot of people, including
the Legislature, wanted to see that shifted.”
The basic allotment, the amount of state and local funding a district receives to
cover the costs of providing a basic instructional program to an “average” student in an “average” district, was raised from $5,140 to $6,160.
Certain things that were covered under separate allotments were thrown under the basic allotment, however, so that increase isn’t a total increase.
In addition, the Legislature fully funded a full day of school for eligible 4-yearolds.
Only a half day was funded previously. That was funded through an Early
Education Allotment for K-3.
The funding calls for 30% of districts’ revenue gain to be used for educator pay
raise. Exactly 75% should be used for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses, prioritizing veteran teachers with five or more years experience. Exactly 25% can then be used for full-time district employees.
Wynn Rosser, T.L.L. Temple Foundation president and CEO, speaks to educators
and foundation representatives at a recap of the 86th Texas Legislative Session
hosted by the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium Tuesday afternoon.
GRACE JUAREZ/The Lufkin Daily News
For years we've partnered with research groups to collect and analyze pre-K data from school districts to develop a comprehensive picture of the state of pre-K in Texas.
Here's the overview of research showing that our state legislators are wise to invest in pre-K.
Whether you’re a student, parent, property owner or run a business, you have a vested interest in what the Texas Legislature does to address public school finance this legislative session. Why should Texans care? In 2015, the state set a goal — part of the 60x30 TX state higher education strategy — of having 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 achieve certificates or degrees by 2030 to keep our state on pace with demands for a highly skilled workforce. Yet, only 42 percent currently meet that standard, a number helped by in-migration of educated adults from outside Texas. In looking at the state’s K-12 pipeline of students, only 22 percent of 8th graders have post-secondary credentials by the age of 24. For a state that currently accounts for 10 percent of all the K-12 students in the United States, that’s a troubling concern for businesses and employers inside and outside of Texas. So, what’s the path forward for public education funding? Over the past year, leaders from across philanthropy, business, education, public policy and the advocacy community have come together under a “big tent” of support for school finance reform. At regional convenings across the state that were coordinated by Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC) in close partnership with the business community, we witnessed a growing number of business and community leaders take an interest in school finance reform. In fact, philanthropists and grantmakers from across the state are gathering this week at the Texas Capitol to discuss school finance with lawmakers as part of TEGAC’s education policy symposium and advocacy day at the Capitol. As we held our regional convenings, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance conducted its own hearings and issued a final report to the Texas Legislature. That report noted the commission wants to balance local and state funding for public schools. That is good and needed. As recently as 2008, the state’s share of public school funding was more than 50 percent, but the Texas Legislature has reduced the state’s share over the years to the present 38 percent, according to the Legislative Budget Board. Someone has to make up the difference, and it is local taxpayers who continue to shoulder that burden. The devil is, of course, always in the details. For the state to pick up its fair share of public school funding — even simply beginning to gradually bring it to 50 percent — will require substantial revenue. The bottom line is that if you want real property tax relief, the state must do its part to fairly and fully fund its share of public education, reducing the property tax load carried by homeowners and other local taxpayers. It is a tough conversation that I hope we have at the Capitol this legislative session and one that I hope our state’s leaders finally have the courage to solve. Much of the focus of the legislative debate thus far has been on local government tax revenue caps as the best way to lower the burden on local taxpayers. In reality, though, real property tax relief can only occur when the state carries a more equal share of the funding needed by Texas public schools to serve their students. If state leaders need courage or cover to make the necessary investments in public education, a recent statewide poll by Raise Your Hand Texas found Texans say education is the most important issue for this legislative session. According to the poll, more than 70 percent of Texans say not enough is being spent on education in Texas, a number that tracks very closely with survey research conducted by TEGAC in January 2018, which also found broad-based support for increasing public education funding and addressing school finance to reduce property taxes. Money really does matter in public education, and it is a message we are seeing carried by a wide range of voices — from philanthropy to business, policy experts to child advocates, parents to locally elected officials. It is an investment the state can and must make if we are to achieve the education and workforce goals established by the state’s 60x30 TX plan.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Esterline, email@example.com or Jenna Watts, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN – As Texas’ definitive resource for college and career preparedness, Texas OnCourse equips middle and high school students for postgraduation success. Students discover and prepare for future opportunities with our career and college exploration and course planning tools. Parents and guardians stay on top of vital information and milestones to keep their child on track. And educators connect to professional learning tools and an essential roadmap to guide their students to plan for their own futures. Texas OnCourse is an initiative from the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with other institutions of higher education, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. For more information about Texas OnCourse, visit texasoncourse.org.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Esterline, email@example.com or David Feigen, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSTIN – Research from Texas and across the U.S. shows that effective pre-k programs help students start kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed, boost early literacy and academic achievement, and reduce both grade retention and provision of special education services. This brief outlines examples of these research findings from throughout the country and here in Texas. It then concludes with a closer look at ways that Texas legislators should harness the power of early childhood education by funding full-day pre-k and taking other steps as they address school finance during the 2019 legislative session.
SURVEY ALSO SHOWS DISTRICTS WANT STATE TO OFFER FULL-DAY PRE-K IF STATE PROVIDES THE FUNDING
For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark, email@example.com 512-473-2274
AUSTIN – A new report shows that Texas school districts are facing difficulties after Texas lawmakers cut pre-k funding during the 2017 legislative session while simultaneously adding new pre-k requirements for school districts. The report by Texans Care for Children and the Commit Partnership also shows that school districts are eager to offer full-day pre-k, rather than half-day pre-k, if the state provides adequate funding for it.
“Strong pre-k programs are so important for making sure that kids show up to kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed instead of starting off behind their classmates on day one and struggling to catch up,” said David Feigen, Early Childhood Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children. “As legislators work on school finance next year, we are hopeful that they will make full-day pre-k a priority.”
“We understand our state legislators have a lot on their plates this upcoming session,” added Kim Manns, Managing Director of Early Matters Dallas at the Commit Partnership. “We would argue there is no more worthy investment than the one the state makes in Texas’ earliest learners – prioritizing high-quality, full-day pre-k is an excellent way to ensure our children have access to a firm foundation.”
The report is based on an online survey of school districts conducted by the two organizations in the summer of 2018. Survey participants represent a meaningful cross-section of Texas school districts. In total, 95 school districts educating 38 percent of the state’s pre-k students responded to the survey.
IMPACT OF LEGISLATURE’S 2017 DECISIONS
The survey asked districts about the impact of decisions made by the Texas Legislature in 2017. That year the Legislature eliminated funding for the High-Quality Pre-k Grant Program that they had established in 2015 based on Governor Greg Abbott’s proposal. In addition to eliminating $118 million in annual funding for the new grant program, the Legislature also eliminated $30 million in supplemental pre-k funding and passed Rider 78 to require all school districts to use a portion of their pre-k funding to comply with the standards that were previously applied only to those districts that participated in the High-Quality Pre-k Grant Program.
The report shows that the Legislature’s decisions on pre-k during the 2017 legislative session harmed Texas students. Sixty-two percent of surveyed districts said the loss of the pre-k funding negatively impacted their pre-k programs at least “a moderate amount” while 38 percent said the cuts had “a lot” or “a great deal” of impact on their pre-k programs. Districts reported that the cuts affected pre-k in numerous ways, including classroom materials, instructional coaching, staff compensation, and recruitment efforts and also affected grade levels and district programs outside of early education. Additionally, school districts reported that the Rider 78 requirements were confusing and difficult to implement, particularly because the Legislature imposed the requirements at the same time that it eliminated funding.
DISTRICTS PRIORITIZING FULL-DAY PRE-K
The report also showed that full-day pre-k is a top priority for school districts. The state currently provides funding for voluntary half-day pre-k for four-year-olds who are low-income, learning English, or meet other criteria. Some school districts use other funds to offer a six-hour full-day program rather than a three-hour half-day program. Full-day programs are more effective at preparing children for kindergarten. Because half-day programs often conflict with parents’ work schedules, full-day programs also provide an opportunity for more eligible students to enroll. The State Board of Education recently called on the Legislature to fund full-day pre-k for interested districts through the school funding formulas.
When asked what they would prioritize if districts received additional pre-k funding from the state, the majority of respondents (58 percent) say they would use that funding to pay for full-day pre-k. A smaller number of districts indicated they would prioritize lower student-teacher ratios, instructional coaching, professional developments, or other investments. When asked if they would provide full-day pre-k if state funding were available, 79 percent of districts with only half-day programs said they would start to offer full-day pre-k. Twenty-one percent were unsure. Zero districts said they would continue with only half-day pre-k if the state funded full-day pre-k.
“School districts see the value in full-day pre-k firsthand when those students go on to achieve academic success in later years. The Legislature should support districts’ commitments to these students by properly resourcing a full-day pre-k option,” Ms. Manns said.
“Districts across Texas affirmed that the Legislature should invest in full-day pre-k to ensure young students benefit from effective early learning environments and are on track for lifetime success,” said Mr. Feigen.
TEGAC released its 2019 Policy Priorities. You can read them here.
TEGAC funders interested in our Early Grade Success Policy Work Group are invited to attend a virtual convening on April 22. Contact Jennifer Esterline for any questions you may have about this opportunity.
TEGAC funders interested in our Pathways to College and Career Policy Work Group are invited to attend a virtual convening on May 4. Contact Jennifer Esterline for any questions you may have about this opportunity.
TEGAC funders interested in our Effective Teaching Policy Work Group are invited to attend a virtual convening on May 12. Contact Jennifer Esterline for any questions you may have about this opportunity.
Mark your calendars for TEGAC's Fall Members Meeting in Austin. We will announce more details to our members and partners soon.