Melanie Rubin, North Texas Early Education Alliance – Childcare & Early Learning
Chandra Villanueva, Every Texan – Equity in Education & School Finance
Ashley Harris, United Ways of Texas – Digital Equity
Our three experts agreed that next year’s legislative session is likely to have significant impacts on the state’s education policy.
Rubin explored the variety of gaps that exist in our state’s early education system and how the legislature could improve our childcare infrastructure.
“[During the session], our priorities are to increase access to quality, affordable childcare to help parents get back to work and to improve compensation and working conditions for the early childcare education workforce,” she said.
Addressing the topic of school finance, Villanueva stressed the importance of bringing the basic allotment for school funding up to the national average and including an inflation adjustment to ensure schools have the funding they need.
“Another big priority for us going into session is going to be looking at enrollment-based funding,” she said. “Currently our schools are funded based on attendance, and that leaves a lot of kids behind. On average, every year, over 300,000 students are not counted at all in our school finance system. Moving to an enrollment-based funding system would better serve all our kids.”
On the topic of digital equity, Harris pointed out that many Texans face barriers to digital connectivity, including affordability, access to appropriate devices, digital literacy and more.
“We know our state can and should do more to ensure all Texans—including K-12 students, adult learners and other higher education students—have the opportunity to engage in and thrive in a digital world, which we know will ensure they can succeed on their pathways to college and career and long-term financial stability,” she said. “Some of the emerging priorities that we’re trying to explore include ensuring that Texas uses state funds to supplement federal funds to build out more infrastructure for broadband and close that digital divide.”
Advocate with United Way
As you can see from our All Eyes on Austin education event, the upcoming legislative session is poised to have a big impact on state education policy in North Texas. We invite you to join us in advocating for our key education priorities:
- Strengthening affordable high-quality early education
- Closing student achievement gaps and improving college and career readiness
- Achieving digital equity and inclusion for all
Throughout the 140 days of the 2023 legislative session, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas will work with advocates like you to demonstrate community-wide support for key policy issues that impact education, income and health in North Texas. No one organization or person can successfully create significant change on any given issue; rather, we are most successful when we can rally the entire community—individuals, corporate partners, nonprofits and more—and make it a true movement.
We make it easy to advocate for lasting change. Sign up for our Advocacy Alerts, and we’ll let you know when and how to contact your elected officials to make the biggest possible impact.
Interested in learning more? Read our blog about how and why we advocate.