Press Release: In New Teach Plus Report, Texas Educators Address Navigating Pandemic Recovery for Teachers, Students, and Schools

For Immediate Release

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Anya Grottel-Brown
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In New Teach Plus Report, Texas Educators Address Navigating Pandemic Recovery for Teachers, Students, and Schools
Teacher-Informed Recommendations Focus on E-learning and Broadband; Social-Emotional Learning;  Education Funding; and Innovation in Education

Austin, Texas, March 17, 2021—The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life and learning, causing anxiety and trauma for millions of Texas students. In response, Texas teachers have taken on new responsibilities, adapting and innovating to ensure students continue to learn. In a new report, Navigating the Texas Pandemic Recovery: Teacher Recommendations for a New Normal, Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellows explore how schools and districts can utilize lessons learned from the pandemic by addressing four priorities for schools and districts as they look to improve education in the state: broadband connectivity, social-emotional learning, education funding, and innovation in education. 

“As school districts and state leaders begin the process of recovering from the pandemic, it’s imperative that they prioritize teacher input and leadership. The recommendations from this teacher-led research set the stage for our legislative action, and we look forward to working with our partners and state leaders to implement them, so Texas students have what they need to flourish,” said Kevin Malonson, Teach Plus Texas Executive Director.

The Fellows, a diverse group of educators who teach across Texas, conducted focus groups with teachers in the state to gain insight into making e-learning more effective for students; meeting students’ social and emotional and mental health needs; addressing the changes in funding needs; and understanding the solutions and innovations to improve teaching and learning post-pandemic. Teachers in the focus groups emphasized the need for functional technology, including broadband, for every student. Teachers also wanted to make sure that the state fully funded HB3 and all of students and teachers' needs, which the pandemic only exacerbated.

“Technology is no longer a luxury but part and parcel of our lives. High speed internet breaks down walls between students and teachers, making information accessible. If we’re to reduce the digital divide and make learning equitable, broadband should be a public utility,” said Njoroge Kabugu, Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellow who teaches 7th grade math at YES Prep Northwest in Houston.

“Students and teachers in our state deserve a renewed commitment from our lawmakers to fully fund HB3. Without this, many important educational programs will not be able to get off the ground effectively and our students, teachers, and schools will suffer as a result,” said Melina Recio, Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellow who teaches 10th grade English and AP Language & Composition at McAllen High School in McAllen.

 Findings

  1. Teachers believe statewide broadband connectivity is essential for effective e-learning and need additional support to successfully plan and deliver hybrid instruction to ensure the success of all students.
  2. Teachers need more professional support, training, and resources to ensure students’ social and emotional health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  3. Teachers are experiencing pandemic-related funding shortages and worry that the pandemic will have long-lasting adverse effects on future school funding.
  4. Teachers believe there is great potential in utilizing technology post-pandemic but need additional training and support.

Recommendations

  1. Establish statewide, high-quality, high-speed connectivity by investing in broadband infrastructure.
  2. Support students’ and teachers’ social, emotional, and mental health needs by providing access to more campus-based professionals and high-quality training.
  3. Protect statewide education funding by maintaining House Bill 3 in its entirety.
  4. Encourage innovation in instructional and school design by incentivizing utilization of Senate Bill 1882.

The Teach Plus report was produced with the support of Philanthropy Advocates, a collaboration with Educate Texas. Philanthropy Advocates is comprised of over 55 foundations and philanthropists from across Texas interested in ensuring that policymakers, parents, educators, media, and the general public

have objective data about Texas public and higher education.  

About Teach Plus

The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success.  Since 2009, Teach Plus has trained thousands of teacher leaders across the country who are driving policy changes and improving the instructional practices of teachers to create an education system driven by equity, access, and excellence for all students.  teachplus.org