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Public education advocates pushing agendas ahead of Texas legislative session that begins Tuesday

COVID-related health and safety issues are among the items on legislative agendas.

HOUSTON, Texas — Snow fell this weekend on the Texas state capitol. But many hope their wishes are warmly received when the 87th legislation session convenes.

"We recognize that this is going to be a tough budget year for everyone,” said Texas Association of School Boards spokesperson Dax Gonzalez.

TASB is among the education-related organizations pushing legislative agendas.

That includes a call to use historical attendance data to determine district funding instead of COVID-impacted enrollment numbers from this school year.

"What we don’t want is for a temporary situation, such as a pandemic, to have long-lasting impacts on educators and students," said Gonzalez.

The Texas American Federation of Teachers wants lawmakers to prioritize health and safety, among other things, mandating that every campus has a school nurse.

Meanwhile, the Texas State Teachers Association featured high school teacher Noel Castaneda in a recent Zoom discussion regarding state funding.

“I was just recently released from the hospital, after getting COVID,” said Castaneda. "I’m at home with oxygen and will probably be on oxygen for quite a while.”

TSTA is also requesting more health and safety oversight and for districts not to be penalized for instituting remote-only learning if COVID cases get too high.

"We are educators," said TSTA president Ovidia Molina. "We will always protect our students, their families, coworkers and communities.”

And, while a mixed bag, maintaining many of House Bill 3’s provisions remains a goal for education advocates as well.

“House Bill 3 was the bill passed last session in which the legislature funded students, they increased funding for students by a thousand dollars per student,” said Gonzalez.

Universal pre-K, higher teacher salaries and the battle over private charter schools getting public money may also come up this session.

Those seem to be perennial issues every biennial.