• By Rebekah Skelton • IDRA Newsletter • September 2023 •
The Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition (TLEEC) is a collaborative of more than 30 organizations and individuals working to improve the quality of public education for all children, with a focus on racial justice. TLEEC advocates educational equity through legislative advocacy and coalition building, particularly during Texas’ legislative sessions.
IDRA founded the coalition in 2001 and has co-led TLEEC with Every Texan and fellow founding member MALDEF for more than 20 years. TLEEC collaborates with a broad collective of committee members to inform local- and state-level policy and mobilize Texas communities.
Recap of 2023 Regular Legislative Session
During the legislative session this spring, TLEEC focused on two main policy priorities: (1) protecting and increasing funding for schools and (2) promoting inclusive P-20+ school climates. Coalition members testified on the discriminatory impact of education savings accounts (Long, 2023), the harmful consequences of private school vouchers (TLEEC, Feb. 2023), the need for ethnic studies courses to fulfill required social studies credits (Wilson, 2023), the concerning prohibition of diversity, equity and inclusion offices on college campuses (TLEEC, May 2023), and harmful classroom censorship policies (TLEEC, March 2023), among other issues.
TLEEC members successfully mounted a strong campaign against private school vouchers – in the form of education savings accounts – in collaboration with legislators and the Coalition for Public Schools. Establishing vouchers was a top priority for the governor and other state leaders this session. Had the legislation passed, it would have diverted taxpayer money away from Texas’ already underfunded public schools, making it harder to keep teachers employed, decreasing transparency and accountability to school communities, and further entrenching segregation and inequity in our public school system, especially for students in bilingual and special education programs.
As private school vouchers will re-emerge as a top priority for legislators in a third called session this October, the coalition remains unwavering in its stance that public funds should remain in public schools.
TLEEC members also advocated inclusive school climates. Our coalition successfully defended against Senate Bill 1515, which would have required teachers to display the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms, and Senate Bill 8, which would have banned instruction or programming regarding sexual orientation or gender identity for every grade level.
TLEEC Policy Priorities for a Third Special Session
In anticipation of this fall’s expected special session regarding education, TLEEC calls on state lawmakers to:
- Fairly and adequately fund public schools:
- Address the teacher shortage by increasing the basic allotment; and
- Guard against voucher systems to keep public money in public schools.
- Support high-quality public-school programs for bilingual education, special education, and post-secondary access:
- Provide educator and student support for bilingual and special education in training, materials and classroom management that keeps students in school; and
- Promote ethnic studies courses and college-preparatory classes in high school that prepare students for college success.
As we look toward the upcoming special session on education, TLEEC stands ready to hold state leaders accountable to Texas communities and defend the right for all students to have a quality public education. Learn more.
Long, D. (April 11, 2023). Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) Subsidize Discrimination Against Students – TLEEC Testimony Against HB 4340 Submitted to the Texas House Public Education Committee. TLEEC.
TLEEC. (February 16, 2023). Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition Urges State Leaders to Oppose Private Voucher Schemes – Statement.
TLEEC. (March 29, 2023). Students Suffer Under Classroom Censorship – TLEEC Testimony against SB 2089, submitted to the Texas Senate Education Committee.
TLEEC. (May 8, 2023). Prohibiting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Offices on College Campuses in Texas Hurts Students’ Academic and Enrichment Opportunities – TLEEC Testimony against SB 17, Submitted to the Texas House Committee on Higher Education. TLEEC. (February 16, 2023). Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition Urges State Leaders to Oppose Private Voucher Schemes – Statement.
Wilson, J. (May 9, 2023). Ethnic Studies Courses Should be Able to Fulfill Required Social Studies Credits – TLEEC Testimony For HB 45 Submitted to the House Public Education Committee. TLEEC.
Rebekah Skelton is an IDRA intern. Comments and questions may be directed to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the Numbers
During the 2023 regular session, TLEEC:
tracked and monitored 177 bills
partnered with 35+ organizations
testified 11 times on 9 bills
hosted two press conferences, one town hall meeting, and one day of action
TLEEC Member Organizations
Austin Justice Coalition
Breakthrough Central Texas
Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
Children at Risk
Dr. Hector P. García G.I. Forum
Easterseals Central Texas
Ethnic Studies Network of Texas
Houston Community Voices for Public Education
McNeil Educational Foundation for Ecumenical Leadership
Mexican American Civil Rights Institute
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Mexican American School Boards Association
National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) – Tejas Foco
San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Texas American Federation of Teachers
Texas Association for Bilingual Education
Texas Association for Chicanos in Higher Education
Texas Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education
Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce
Texas Center for Education Policy, University of Texas – Austin
Texas Hispanics Organized for Political Education (HOPE)
The Arc of Texas
The Education Trust in Texas
TSTA (Texas State Teachers Association)
UnidosUS (formerly known as NCLR)
[©2023, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the September 2023 edition of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]