Curriculum bill HB 1605 passed by Texas House
Texas Legislature Educator Rights Curriculum | Instruction
Date Posted: 5/03/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave
House Bill (HB) 1605, a priority bill of House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado), was passed by the Texas House Tuesday, May 2, 2023. The bill’s stated goals include ensuring teachers are not burdened by lesson planning and creation, helping teachers to source lesson materials, and ensuring that materials used follow the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and are age appropriate and rigorous. The bill would create lists of high-quality instructional materials approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the State Board of Education (SBOE) that meet the TEKS curriculum standards.
ATPE's position on HB 1605 has been neutral, with concerns that the financial incentives offered to school districts to choose this content for their staff will lead to a de facto mandated curriculum and loss of teacher autonomy. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave testified on the bill at a March 21 committee hearing.
Floor amendments offered to HB 1605 included an amendment by Rep. James Talarico (D–Round Rock) to ensure that teachers can contract with their school district to design lessons or select instructional material; an amendment by Rep. Glenn Rogers (R–Graford) to ensure tests would not be added to the portal and thus be accessible to students; and an amendment by Rep. John Bucy (D–Cedar Park) to strengthen immunity protections for teachers. Bucy's amendment was necessary because the original bill would have stripped the broad protections teachers currently enjoy and replaced them with much narrower protection.
Current law protects teachers who are teaching the TEKS. The original version of HB 1605 would only protect those whose teaching complies strictly with state-approved curriculum materials. Curriculum materials are typically much more prescriptive than the TEKS and go beyond what to teach into how to teach. In covering the TEKS, teachers are required to cover subjects that may be considered sensitive by some, such as world religions, evolution, or certain biological processes, and can face questions and possible discipline when parents complain about delivery of the content. It is important that individual educators be able to cover the TEKS in a way that is culturally and educationally responsive to the students in their classes without fear of lawsuit. See the full list of accepted HB 1605 floor amendments here.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 126-18. HB 1605 will now have a third and final reading in the House before being sent to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between this bill and its Senate companion, SB 2565 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), which passed the Senate April 25.
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