PTC 2019 Legislative Wrap-Up

     The 86thSession of the Texas Legislature, just completed on Monday, May 27, was the most productive on behalf of our 5.4 million schoolchildren in recent memory. Certainly, it was the finest session in the six years Pastors for Texas Children has been in existence. 

     The signature policy achievement of this legislature was House Bill 3, which secured over $6 billion dollars in new funding for our 8500 Texas public schools, enacted a significant teacher pay raise, and implemented full-day, high quality Pre-Kindergarten instruction—and all of this without any standardized test contingency and without any substantive push for a private school voucher.

     While some regressive forces in state government wished to use our surplus of $10 billion plus dollars to “buy down” rising property taxes, more generous and aspirational voices prevailed to allocate this bounty for investment in the public education of our children. While the return on that investment is delayed until the child reaches adulthood, there is no better investment in the future prosperity of our great state than good public schools.

     Furthermore, our message that public schoolteachers are the messengers of God’s Love and the keepers of God’s Common Good, joining Christian pastors and church leaders in this high and holy calling, resonated more harmoniously with policymakers than ever before.

     Clearly, the voices of faith leaders and faith communities played a key role in this huge step forward of the enactment of HB3. Quality public education for all of God’s children is protected by the biblical mandate for justice as well as by the Texas State Constitution. It is a moral imperative embraced by civil society.

     We were we in the capitol every day making visits, holding significant conversations, praying with House and Senate members– but we were also in Texas communities, urging pastors and church leaders to do the same with their own legislators!  It is this dual approach that is so effective. It was our privilege to carry that message every day of this session to our 181 House and Senate members. 

     This historic legislation is not perfect. There are fixes and corrections that need to be made in the 2021 session. But, as an old preacher said years ago, “Something doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be good.” Clearly, HB3 is a huge first step in the right direction in correcting funding lapses of the past decade, and in restoring Texas to its rightful place of leadership among our United States in per pupil spending on our children. 

          The work is not finished. Now that the Session is over, we can focus exclusively on the great work to mobilize churches and pastors for local school assistance. This is the fun part! We love taking this powerful message to our Texas communities! 

     None of this could have been done without you. Your moral witness and direct advocacy on behalf of God’s “least of these”—our precious children—advanced healthy education policy this session. It also helped produce the kind of legislature that supports public education as a provision of social justice and opposes its privatization for personal financial gain. “Well done, good and faithful servants.” We thank God for you!

PTC Statement on HB3

We are gratified to report that the stalemate has ended on House Bill 3, the historic public school funding bill passed with virtually unanimous approval by the House of Representatives earlier this session. The bill has been held up for weeks over intense debate about certain measures attached to the bill by the Senate, mainly around property tax relief policy. 

While we are waiting for the actual bill language, it is clear that our neighborhood and community Texas public schools will get several billion new dollars in funding, that this support will not be contingent on our children’s performance on any standardized test, that teachers will receive a desperately needed pay increase, and that full-day, high-quality Pre-Kindergarten instruction will finally be implemented.

This is a new major development in the growing pro-public education wave sweeping our state and nation. It comes as the result of your incredible work and witness. HB 3 is a significant step in the ongoing journey to provide our children the education they deserve, God demands, and Texans desire. 

Our pastors and church leaders were in the Capitol every day of this 86th Legislative Session, building relationships with House and Senate members and staff, praying with these legislators, influencing them about the moral mandate to create school policy that will advance God’s Common Good. 
Modernizing school finance while offering tax relief is a complicated endeavor. The Legislature has heard our voice and received our witness about the moral imperative to fund our schools, fairly compensate our teachers, and give our youngest and poorest children the head-start they need in their education. Without your persistence and participation through phone calls, emails, sermons, messages, and visits– and those of countless tens of thousands of other fellow public education advocates doing likewise– this simply would not have happened. Well done, good and faithful servants!

As we end this legislative session next Tuesday, we look forward to getting back to our main work of helping local schools– and building community support for public education as the key institution of stable and civil society. We thank God for the privilege of doing this work, and doing it with dedicated leaders like you.

Take Action with PTC: Say NO to Expanded High-Stakes Testing

In our legislative priorities, and our prayerful witness at the Capitol, Pastors for Texas Children, has been crystal clear: we believe in fair and equitable school funding. Specifically, we’ve joined other public schools advocates to rally behind the vision of public school funding put forward in House Bill 3.  Later amendments to this bill complicated this vision, but Texans know what we want: fair and equitable funding for our public schools, our children, and our communities. 

This is where you come in. Today, we’re asking that you call your Texas State Representative and State Senator.  You can find their office numbers here.

Tell your Senator and Representative: I’m concerned about recent amendments to HB3 that tie school funding to standardized test scores.  Let’s be honest: These high-stakes tests demoralize our teachers, traumatize our children, and divert attention from other classroom needs. Furthermore, as every parent knows, tests don’t teach our children. Teachers do.  And they can only do so with more time in the classroom. God’s vision for education is a beloved community of teachers and students, not a testing factory.  We don’t fund our schools because they hit certain test scores. We fund our schools because it’s a Gospel mandate and a moral imperative.

Join us in our faithful witness, as we raise our voices for a fair system of schools that puts the needs of students and their teachers first. Call your representative today.

PTC Benefit Luncheon

Are you interested in sponsoring a table at our 2019 benefit luncheon?

At this event, PTC will be honoring Dr. Don Rogers, the Executive Director of the Texas Rural Education Association, is a lifelong public educator and advocate. He’s also a great supporter of Pastors for Texas Children! 

On Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 11:30-1, we’ll gather at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas to celebrate Dr. Rogers’ lifetime of service to Texas public schools. 

Corporate sponsorships are $5000 (only 2 of these are left!), and table sponsorships are $1500.

Is your congregation or organization interested in attending by sponsoring a table at the event? if so, send an email to Brandon Grebe:

Why Do Pastors Care About Public Schools?

PTC Executive Director Rev. Charlie Johnson recently sat down with our friends at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty for their podcast. Hear Charlie discuss the moral mandate for school funding, separation of church and state, and how pastors can be involved with the fight for our neighborhood public schools.

Listen to the podcast here!

HB3 on education funding passes nearly unanimously

Key points of HB 3 include $6.3 billion for schools and $2.7 billion in tax relief funding for programs like Pre-kindergarten, vocational technology, special needs and increasing teacher pay.

Read KRIV’s story on the passage of HB3 here.

Public School Proud: Half-Full Ministry to Your Schools

by Suzii Paynter, PTC Co-Director

Each morning going on 10 years, I start the day with juice from a small glass painted with a single white line.

Above the line is the Spanish word “optimista.” Below it, the word “pessimista.”

Which way to see the day? Half empty or half full. It is a prayer, or at least an admonition, to look for gifts and nurture them.

With this current focus on the intersection of congregations and public schools – I see churches in hundreds of communities nurturing kids, believing in God-given potential for each child – engaging in schools with an attitude and commitment that is “optimista,” half full.

Read the rest at

PTC At the Teachers Rally

“You plant seeds of hope in our children. You plant these seeds no matter the social-economic background, no matter the race, creed or color, no matter the dysfunction that they’ve come from in their homes, no matter whether they have limited abilities, physically or emotionally or intellectually, you still do the job and plant seeds of hope.”

These were the words of the Rev. John Ogletree, PTC Board Member, as he offered the opening prayer for the #RedForEd rally at the Texas State Capitol. Teachers from across Texas spoke out at this rally, demanding a fair and equitable public school system that puts the needs of students and teachers first.

Before the rally, PTC leaders met to discuss the work for equitable funding in Texas, and heard from the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty about the fight to protect church-state separation in our schools nationwide.

At the rally, PTC partners and supporters could be seen in the crowd, waving signs that read “Pastors Stand with Teachers.” It was an invigorating experience, and many PTC advocates had the opportunity to learn more about public education funding and meet with their legislators.

Would you like to advocate in Austin with PTC for fair education funding? Email us at

Launch of Pastors for Florida Children

On Tuesday, March 26, pastors from around the Florida rallied in support of full funding for public schools in the Sunshine State, launching a new group: Pastors for Florida Children. 

PFC seeks to support each child’s needs and the God given potential through education for all Florida children. They’re also working to connect with public school leaders in each community and in public school classrooms by volunteering and ministering to students and public school workers. This coalition of pastors is faithfully supporting and advocating for Florida’s public schools, teachers and its children.

The faith leaders who rallied on Tuesday stood up for their local public schools, demanding that Florida legislators pass a pro-student budget and say NO to the forces of privatization and charterization. You can read about the pastors’ efforts here and here

All around the country, faith leaders are joining hands with neighborhood public schools to put the needs of our nation’s schoolchildren first.

Pastors for Texas Children’s Statement on the Passage of HB3 out of the House Committee on Public Education

The $9 billion dollar funding is a huge step for our Texas children’s public education

AUSTIN, TX (March 19, 2019) – “Pastors For Texas Children praises the hard work of the House Committee on Public Education for passing out House Bill 3 that provides a significant increase in funding for our neighborhood schools that will benefit both our hard-working teachers and Texas school kids. We applaud the leadership of Chairman Dan Huberty, Vice Chairman Diego Bernal and each member of the committee in this historic correction. We look forward to the day soon when Texas leads the country in per-pupil public education support.”