Last week, the Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted its 6th Annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature. The sold-out event received excellent reviews from the hundreds of people who attended.

Our goal is to have this year's Policy Orientation recap page on the site by the end of next week. That page will have the audio and PowerPoint slides from all of the panel sessions, and we hope to provide video of the keynotes.

In the meantime, as we get the panel audio edited, we will post those here. The first two sessions are linked below. Please note that all of the audio files will be very large and should only be downloaded via a broadband connection.

* "Texas Public Schools: Top in the Class, a Few Rotten Apples, or Mired in Mediocrity?" (Presenters: Rep. Scott Hochberg, The Honorable Ron Wilson, Dr. Vicki Murray, and Dr. Bruce Shortt. Moderator: Jamie Story.)

From school finance reform in Texas to No Child Left Behind at the federal level, policymakers have tried to improve public schools by implementing new testing requirements and accountability measures, along with efforts like incentive pay to reward the best teachers. This panel will explore past and current efforts at public school reform and where we stand today. Are these reforms enough and are they working? How are Texas public schools performing? Do public schools need wholesale reform like school choice, or is more funding enough to improve public schools? Who should take the lead on these reforms?

* "Raising the Bar on Higher Education in Texas: Improving Quality, Access, and Controlling Cost." (Presenters: Rep. Geanie Morrison, Dr. Gary Scott, and Dr. Richard Vedder. Moderator: Jeff Sandefer.)

The cost of higher education is climbing. Whether measured by the rising cost of tuition or the state's appropriation for higher education, it seems that Texas colleges and universities require increasingly more money. Why is the cost of higher education increasing so rapidly? What are students getting in return? This panel discussion will explore the trends in higher education in Texas and what the state and its students get for their money.