On Friday, March 3, The Texas Tribune held a daylong symposium on public education in Texas at The University of Houston-Downtown with elected officials, advocates and policy experts from across the state. Topics included public education and the Legislature; school choice in the 85th session; assessment and accountability; and special education. Highlights and links to the full videos from the day follow.

Fixing Texas’ ‘Byzantine’ school finance system

State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said Texas Supreme Court’s 2016 opinion on the state’s ‘Byzantine’ school finance system put the onus on the Legislature to fix, but that’s probably not going to get done in one legislative session. Watch the full discussion on school choice with State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chairman of the House Public Education Committee and Taylor, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. Watch the full video »

How would school choice impact poor and minority students?

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, questioned the benefits of tax credit and voucher programs for minority children. Watch the full panel discussion on school choice with Mike Feinberg of KIPP Public Schools; Charles Foster Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children and Randan Steinhauser of Texans for Education Opportunity with The Texas Tribune's Aliyya Swaby. Watch the full video »

A-F ratings: progress or more problems?

Does Texas’ controversial A-F rating system finally provide a way for parents and community members to understand school performance, or is it a “simplistic” solution to a problem that still needs solving? Courtney L. Boswell of Texas Aspires and Houston Independent School District Superintendent Richard Carranza offered two different perspectives in our discussion of school testing and accountability with Louis Malfaro of Texas American Federation of Teachers; Theresa Trevino of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment; and Texas Tribune's Aliyya Swaby.  Watch the full video »

How can Texas move past the fight over special education?

The Houston Chronicle's Brian Rosenthal noted that much of the discussion on special education is about the fight between schools and parents. How does Texas move forward? Parent and advocate Bonnie Garza and school district attorney Jim Walsh offered different perspectives during our special education discussion with Steven Aleman of Disability Rights Texas; Deena Hill of Fort Bend Independent School District; and special education teacher Dana Wrann. Watch the full video »

A conversation with former education commissioners Jim Nelson and Robert Scott 



The Tribune's symposia are modeled on the celebrated Texas Tribune Festival. These one-day, one-topic events bring together experts to present and generate productive conversations on major issues of the day.

This event is presented by the Walton Family Foundation and supported by the Texas Association of School Business Officials, ETS, Educate Texas, Texas State Technical College, the Harris County Department of Education, Thompson & Horton LLP and Southwest Airlines, the official airline of Texas Tribune Events. This event is hosted by the University of Houston-Downtown and media support is provided by Houston Public Media and Houston Press. Foundation support is provided by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation, the Meadows Foundation and the Burdine Johnson Foundation. Tribune events are also supported through contributions from our founding investors and members.

Disclosure: Though donors and corporate sponsors underwrite our events, they play no role in determining the content, panelists or line of questioning.