End of the week wrap-up: HB 5, TEA sunset, “virtual vouchers” and SBOE resolution
Date Posted: 4/19/2013 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
House Bill (HB) 5, the broad education reform bill calling for changes in graduation and testing requirements, was approved by the Senate Education Committee April 16. The version passed by the committee was reworked to incorporate elements of Senate Bill (SB) 3 and SB 1724 by Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). (These bills also deal with testing and graduation requirements.) The committee also approved several amendments to the bill, including one that would remove a provision calling for schools to be rated using letter grades A-F. Patrick said there was no need to include that provision in this bill because it’s in another bill already moving through the process, though he did not indicate which one. However, at this point, such a provision could be meaningless as the commissioner of education has stated that he already has the authority to implement an A-F rating system and plans to do so. The Senate Education Committee also approved SB 218, the sunset bill for the Texas Education Agency. “Sunset” refers to a review of state agencies and programs to determine if they should be continued, amended or discontinued. This bill is important to watch. Because it relates so broadly to public education, it could be amended on the House or Senate floor to include just about anything, including provisions from bills otherwise dead for the session. The House Public Education Committee took up a virtual learning bill April 18. HB 1724 by Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) would require school districts to allow virtual learning providers to offer their courses at public schools and force school districts to pay for them if students opt to take the courses. As currently written, this bill is a form of virtual voucher in which public funds would be diverted to private companies. The bill was left pending by the committee. ATPE will be keeping a close eye on its progress. The State Board of Education voted April 19 on a non-binding resolution opposing the use of state funds for voucher programs. The resolution is meant to inform the Legislature and the public of the board’s position on the issue. The vote was 10-5 in favor of the resolution. Stay tuned for updates.
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