San Antonio Youth Literacy will host a panel discussion Tuesday on improving literacy in Bexar County schools, funding for public schools, and other education topics. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pearl Stable.
San Antonio Independent School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez, Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods, and state Reps. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) and Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) will talk about education outcomes in a panel discussion titled “Raising Expectations: How Bexar County Schools Are Improving.” The conversation will be moderated by Rivard Report Publisher Robert Rivard.
“Improving public education outcomes is a shared community goal,” Rivard said. “This SAYL discussion is a great opportunity to measure progress and focus on our community’s greatest challenges.”
The discussion is a continuation of last year’s luncheon and discussion, SAYL officials said, during which several San Antonio school superintendents said more effective early literacy programs are needed in order to address reading deficiencies among elementary school children.
SAYL aims to close reading gaps by increasing the number of third-grade students reading at grade level. Volunteers, or “reading buddies,” travel to 65 schools around the city to work with students struggling with basic reading comprehension, providing one-on-one instruction.
Amid local efforts to improve education outcomes in districts with fewer resources, superintendents expressed worries last year that lawmakers would not pass meaningful school finance reform without a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court ordering them to do so. In May 2016, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s public school funding system needed improvement but ultimately met constitutionally required minimum standards. In its ruling in the suit brought by more than two-thirds of the state’s public school districts, the court urged the Legislature to reform the school finance system.
However, lawmakers did not make changes to that system in either the 85th legislative session or the special session that followed. House Bill 21, which passed in the special session, allocated some immediate funding to public schools.
After Senate revisions, the original legislation was stripped of both $1.5 billion in new funding and its attempts to reform outdated school finance formulas, according to the Texas Tribune.
Rivard said he wants to discuss the takeaways from the recent legislative sessions. He also plans to address improving early childhood education, and the met and unmet challenges of enhancing public education outcomes.