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!