AUSTIN – I welcomed the recent announcement by Speaker Joe Straus that he intends to make school finance a focus for the Texas House in 2017. Having served for 8 years on the Senate Education Committee including as Chair, and 2 years on Senate Finance, I have learned a great deal about school finance and how difficult it will be to resolve this issue. I look forward to working with him on this issue and I am sure he looks forward to working with me on my education reform priorities in 2017 as well. Everyone knows education policy reform and school finance reform must go hand in hand.
In 2013 as a new chair of Senate Education I worked with the House Public Education Chairman to determine a plan of action on education reform. We agreed the House would take the lead on the curriculum reform and the Senate would take the lead on charter school reform and that we would both work to reduce STARR tests. We changed the diploma system, put more focus on career, expanded charters and dramatically reduced testing. We listened to educators, superintendents, parents and the business community and passed sweeping reforms that caused many observer to say it was the best education session in the history of the state.
I suspect the Speaker is as frustrated as I am of hearing the word NO both on major school reforms and on major fixes to school finance before session even begins.
I have worked throughout my career in public office to improve Texas public schools and I am committed to continuing that work in 2017. I hope and am confident that the speaker shares this commitment and will join me in this effort.