Community Conversations

Watch our event on the future of Texas public education

We're livestreaming our two-day event in Austin diving into the most pressing issues facing students and educators across Texas.

Community Conversations

Our Community Conversations series seeks to catalyze a constructive dialogue on various issues facing communities across Texas. Learn more.

 More in this series 

On April 1-2, The Texas Tribune will sit down with top lawmakers, educators, advocates and more in Austin for a two-day conversation on education policy in Texas. The discussions will dive into the top issues facing public education in the state, including the future of school finance, the importance of early childhood education, accountability, teacher preparation, social and emotional learning, demographic inevitability, the high school-to-college pipeline, and the demand for a workforce that can meet the challenges of our booming economy.

You can watch videos of the event's panels below — plus, you can learn more about the event here.

We Also Want To Hear From You

In tandem with this live event, the Tribune has produced a watch party toolkit on public education in Texas to help you bring the event to your community and catalyze a constructive dialogue on the most pressing issues facing students and educators across the state.

We know that many Texans interested in these issues may not be able to travel to Austin or be able to view the livestream or video. That’s why we’ve created the “Future of Public Education Watch Party Toolkit” — a step-by-step guide to hosting event watch parties in your community and sparking meaningful conversations on how issues discussed at the event affect you. Additionally, organizations across the state will convene Texans for live watch parties of the event in their local communities. View a list of these watch parties here.

Download our "Future of Public Education Community Conversation Toolkit" here.

Watch Panels From the Event

The Future of Workforce is Public Education
6-7 p.m. Monday, April 1

Panelists are Ruth Ruggero Hughs, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission; Robert Kaplan, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank; Mike Morath, Texas education commissioner; and Raymund Paredes, Texas higher education commissioner. Moderated by Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

Public Education and the 86th #txlege
8:30-9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are state Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, vice chair of the House Public Education Committee; Nicole Conley Johnson, chief financial officer for Austin ISD; state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, vice chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee; and Todd Williams, chairman and CEO of The Commit Partnership and education advisor to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Moderated by Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

Holding Accountability Accountable
9:45-10:45 a.m. Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are Keven Ellis, member of the State Board of Education; Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, vice president of policy for ExcelinEd; state Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian; and Michael McFarland, superintendent of Crowley ISD. Moderated by Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune.

The States and the Feds
11 a.m.-noon Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are Jon Schnur, chairman and CEO of America Achieves and former senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Vice President Al Gore, and Margaret Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education. Moderated by Sarah Darville, national editor for Chalkbeat.

Learning from the Best Leaders
12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are Kim Alexander, superintendent of Roscoe ISD; Art Cavazos, superintendent of Harlingen Consolidated ISD; LaTonya Goffney, superintendent of Aldine ISD, and Tom Torkelson, founder and CEO of IDEA Public Schools. Moderated by Claire McInerny, education reporter for KUT News.

Everybody Loves Pre-K. Now What?
1:45-2:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are Libby Doggett, former deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning at the U.S. Department of Education; Jacquie Porter, statewide director of early childhood for the Texas Education Agency; Betsy Price, mayor of Fort Worth; and Miguel Solis, former trustee for Dallas ISD and candidate for Dallas mayor. Moderated by Matthew Watkins, breaking news editor for The Texas Tribune.

It All Begins with Teachers
3-4 p.m. Tuesday, April 2

Panelists are Holly Eaton, director of professional development and advocacy for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association; John Fitzpatrick, executive director of Educate Texas; Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Dallas ISD and Cody Huie, vice president of programs for Raise Your Hand Texas. Moderated by Aliyya Swaby, public education reporter for The Texas Tribune.

Disclosure: IDEA Public Schools, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Educate Texas and Raise Your Hand Texas have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.