Senate leadership outlines controversial education reform plans
Date Posted: 3/04/2015 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) held a press conference to announce a number of education reform bills that the Senate leadership will push forward this session. The reform package includes several controversial proposals that have been attempted before in the Texas legislature without success and have been opposed by many members of the education community. One of the initiatives touted by Patrick and Taylor is a plan to assign "A" through "F" accountability grades to school campuses. Legislation was already passed in 2013 to give similar grades to school districts. ATPE opposes assigning letter grades to schools and labeling them as failures, because we believe doing so would harm the students who attend those schools. Also included in the priorities is creating a statewide "Opportunity School District" for low-performing schools. Similar measures deemed "Achievement School District" bills were proposed but failed to pass in 2013. ATPE opposes the idea, which would facilitate private management of schools with less accountability to taxpayers and parents and a reduction in rights and benefits for many educators working in those schools. To learn more about the "opportunity" or "achievement" school concept, read our recent ATPE News feature article from Winter 2014. Taylor explained that the Senate would also pursue parent trigger laws enabling parents to petition for dramatic changes to a school's governance and legislation to expand online learning. Changes to teacher evaluations and compensation are also being sought. Patrick noted in yesterday's press conference that school choice and pre-kindergarten bills were not being included in the announcement and would be discussed at a later date. He signaled that a yet-to-be-filed school choice bill would be one of the Senate leadership's high priorities. Joining Patrick and Taylor in the press conference yesterday were Republican Sens. Donna Campbell, Kel Seliger, Paul Bettencourt, and Charles Perry; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. was the lone Democrat on the dais. Read ATPE's full press statement about the Senate plan. The following are additional news reports (with some links that may require subscriptions for full access) about the Senate's education package featuring remarks from ATPE lobbyists:
- The Dallas Morning News: Senate leaders would grade Texas schools ‘A’ through ‘F’
- Time Warner Cable News: Senate Lays Out First Round of Education Agenda
- The Austin American-Statesman: Texas Senate lays out controversial public education agenda
- The Houston Chronicle: Patrick touts comprehensive education plan
- KWTX: Texas Conservatives Back Teacher Evaluations, School Grading Plans
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