House Public Education Committee considers bills on curriculum, library review
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Date Posted: 3/23/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave
The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, March 21, 2023, to consider 10 bills. ATPE provided written and oral testimony on several bills, including bills on teacher autonomy in lesson design, qualifications for prekindergarten educators, and the selection and regulation of library materials in public schools.
House Bill (HB) 1605 by Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Killeen), which is one of the chair’s priority bills this session, seeks to create lists of high-quality instructional materials approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board of Education (SBOE) that meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards. Districts would receive an allotment for adopting the materials for their teachers. ATPE testified neutrally on the bill, maintaining that teachers need help with the burden of administrative tasks and do not wish to sacrifice their autonomy in lesson design. ATPE stressed that though the materials would be optional, the allotment creates an incentive for districts to adopt them, which may cause teachers to lose the ability to design their own lessons.
HB 2729 by Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine) would change the education requirements for prekindergarten educators. ATPE testified against the bill on the grounds that it lowers certification and education standards for pre-k teachers.
HB 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) would allow for the regulation and review of books by vendors before books are purchased and placed in public school libraries. ATPE submitted written testimony on the bill, asking that clarifying language be added to protect schools and school employees from liability.
ATPE opposed HB 2162 by Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston). The bill deals with reading instruction, assessment, and interventions for struggling readers. This bill would allow transfer of public funding to a private source, in this case a private tutoring company selected by the parent, which fits the definition of a voucher. ATPE has consistently opposed PreK–12 education vouchers, which includes any bill that allows an individual to direct taxpayer funds to private entities.
Other bills considered by the committee Tuesday include:
- HB 1662 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R–Cleburne), that deals with the posting of a district’s employment policy on its website. ATPE supported this bill.
- HB 2484 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City), that would protect officials at UIL events from being subjected to abuse or harassment by a spectator at the event. ATPE supported this bill.
- HB 1614 by Dutton, which would expand eligibility for free pre-k programs in public schools.
- HB 166 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D–El Paso), which would allow for the appointment of educational representatives for students with disabilities.
- HB 2929 by Rep. J.M. Lozano (R–Kingsville), related to education and training requirements for teachers and counselors.
- HB 2923 by Dutton, which allows districts to contract with third-party partners to offer pre-k programs in public schools.
Additionally, the committee approved several pieces of pending legislation:
- HB 579 by Burns, which would allow alternate assessment for special-needs students for whom STAAR and STAAR-Alt are not the best options.
- HB 890 by Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney), which sets a 120-day timeline for the grievance process in a school district or charter school. ATPE supported this bill.
- HB 920 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth), which deals with administration of medication to students in respiratory distress.
- HB 1002 by Rep. Four Price (R–Amarillo), which allows a chiropractor to be part of a concussion oversight team in public schools.
- HB 1067 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R–New Boston), which deals with detachment and annexation of school district territory.
- HB 1416 by K. Bell, that aims to “clean up” 2021’s HB 4545 by lowering the amount of accelerated instruction, or tutoring, required for students who perform unsatisfactorily on the STAAR test from 30 hours to 15 hours; increasing the student-to-tutor ratio from 3:1 to 4:1; requiring the creation of a virtual or hybrid alternative to direct in-person tutoring; and offering parents an opt-out provision. ATPE supported this bill.
- HB 1789 by Buckley, which would allow school districts with more than 35,000 students to hire a school bus driver related to a public official.
- HB 1955 by Buckley, which would change verification requirements for incoming military families enrolling in public schools from 10 days to 90 days.
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