The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the issues that have impacted students and families for generations, including access to well-funded educational programs, digital devices and connectivity, and affordable housing and healthcare.
Responding to the impact of COVID-19 on schools requires taking a critical look at many systemic inequities and listening to the communities most impacted by the pandemic.
Policy Recommendations for Texas
The Texas Legislature should…
- Create a statewide broadband plan for rural and urban communities. The plan should address education needs to close the digital divide for students of our most vulnerable populations – students with disabilities, English learner (emergent bilingual) students, students from low-income families, and students of color – across K-12 schools and higher education.
- Increase financial support and training resources for digital literacy programs to support access, connectivity, and academic and social engagement of students in either virtual or in-person learning environments.
- Provide support for student and educator physical, mental and emotional health.
- Support continued distance-learning activities, ensuring all students and their families are connected to their school and have access to education, resources and a robust two-way communication system.
- Avoid across-the-board cuts to education and health services. Use the state Economic Stabilization Funds (or “Rainy Day Funds”) to stabilize the state budget and school district funding for COVID-19-related expenditures.
- Increase resources for family support personnel and programs, including parent support specialists and family liaisons.
Learn more about IDRA’s comprehensive approach to COVID-19’s impact on schools. See our Policy Primer: Ensuring Education Equity During and After COVID-19, IDRA’s living document listing policies to preserve and promote educational equity. See the guide in Spanish, Garantizar la equidad educativa durante y después de COVID-19.
Cutting Public School Relief Funds to Subsidize Private Schools – An Analysis of How the Department of Education’s Equitable Services Rule Will Harm Texas Students and School Districts, IDRA Issue Brief • July 16, 2020
Letters and Public Comments
- Texas Needs to Prioritize Rural and Urban School Districts through a Community Approach for Internet Connectivity, IDRA Testimony on House Bill 3591, submitted by Thomas Marshall to the House Public Education Committee on March 30, 2021
- Texas Needs a Statewide Approach to Internet Connectivity Across Texas School Districts, IDRA testimony on Senate Bill 1171, presented by Thomas Marshall before the Senate Education Committee on March 25, 2021
- Digital Health and Wellness Are Essential to a Digital Citizenship Curriculum, IDRA testimony to the Texas House Public Education Committee in support of House Bill 129, March 16, 2021
- Letter to TEA regarding lack of updated guidance for serving students experiencing homelessness and students with special education needs, submitted by IDRA Texas Appleseed and Disability Rights Texas, August 20, 2020
- IDRA Public Comment to U.S. Department of Education Re: CARES Act Programs, Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools, July 31, 2020
- Joint Letter to U.S. Department of Education Re: Comments in Response to Interim Final Rule on CARES Act Programs; Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools, July 30, 2020
- IDRA Letter to U.S. Congress Urging Education Equity in Next Stimulus Package, July 27, 2020
- Joint Letter to Congress Regarding Next Round of COVID-19 Funding, July 27, 2020
- Joint Letter to Texas Congressional Delegation Calling for Additional Federal Relief to the Coronavirus Pandemic, July 21, 2020
- TLEEC Public Comment to U.S. Department of Education Re: Eligibility of Students at Institutions of Higher Education for Funds under the CARES Act, July 17, 2020
- IDRA letter Eligibility of Students at Institutions of Higher Education for Funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, July 14, 2020
- Supplemental Funding for English Learners/Title III in COVID Relief – Joint Letter, April 17, 2020
- Recommendations for the Bexar County Juvenile Justice System’s COVID-19 Emergency Plan – Joint Letter, March 27, 2020