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House Public Education Committee advances a laundry list of pending bills

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature

Date Posted: 4/23/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier

The House Public Education Committee met Friday, April 23, to vote on pending House bills before it turns its attention to hearing Senate bills next week. Chairman Harold Dutton (D-Houston) put nearly every remaining House bill that the committee had heard up for a vote today in rapid succession.

ATPE opposes the following bills that were approved by the committee today:

  • House Bill (HB) 547 by Frank (R-Wichita Falls) deals with home-school students’ ability to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) activities. The committee substitute makes the bill permissive but still negates the level playing-field in UIL by failing to ensure home-schooled students are subject to the same requirements as students enrolled in school districts, such as attendance and academic eligibility requirements (which would be determined by parents of the home-schooled students). Read ATPE’s written testimony against the bill here.
  • HB 2554 is the “vocational school district” bill by Gates (R-Richmond). As originally filed, the bill would create an inequitable tracking system that placed students in learning environments without certified teachers and in career situations that may offer little to no upward mobility. The committee substitute version of HB 2554, approved today, continues to allow districts discretion in offering vocational programs that could inequitably separate students, while also limiting CTE funding. For these reasons, ATPE continues to oppose this bill. Read our written testimony against the original bill here.
  • HB 3979 by Toth (R-Conroe) would circumvent the established State Board of Education (SBOE) process for determining curriculum standards, while also dictating teachers’ pedagogical practices. Neither of these is under the purview of the Legislature. The bill also allows charter schools to engage in advocacy and lobbying activities while banning the same activities by traditional school districts. HB 3979 also makes changes in subsection (h-3) that could effectively eliminate the use of any private funding for instructional materials and technology. Read ATPE’s written testimony against the bill here.
  • HB 4525 by Gates (R-Richmond) would require the SBOE to approve any CTE courses that are offered online or through an Internet portal maintained by a school district or the Texas Education Agency (TEA), regardless of their quality. ATPE opposes the bill because we believe it is imperative that any online courses are rigorous, vetted, and appropriate for students and that the SBOE continue to exercise its discretion during the instructional materials approval process.

ATPE supports the following bills approved by the committee today:

  • HB 41 by Talarico (D-Round Rock) would require that school districts maintain an average pre-K ratio of 1:11 and no more than 22 students per pre-K class. The approved committee substitute  would allow waivers for districts that are unable to comply due to financial concerns.
  • HB 97 by Hinojosa (D-Austin) would prohibit charter schools from including a consideration of students’ discipline history in their admissions. The committee approved a substitute version of the bill that protects student information.
  • HB 244 by González, M. (D-Clint) would create a competitive grant program to promote teacher certification and professional development in coding, technology applications, and computer science. The committee approved a committee substitute for the bill that gives discretion to the commissioner.
  • HB 278 by Canales (D-Edinburg) would require TEA to review the criminal history of each person appointed to serve on a board of managers for a school district.
  • HB 1016 by Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso) would require districts and charters to adopt a policy on active shooter drills that conforms to certain requirements, such as excluding real-life simulations and including teachers in the development of the drills. The committee approved a committee substitute for the bill today.
  • HB 1302 by Guillen would update the school accountability system to include additional indicators in the student achievement domain, such as high school students who earn a diploma in 3.5 years or less and students in the gifted and talented program who skip a grade.
  • HB 1613 by Lopez (D-San Antonio) would extend the Reading Academies deadline to not later than the 2023-24 school year. The committee substitute for the bill would also exempt new teachers who demonstrated proficiency on the Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam from being required to complete the Reading Academies.
  • HB 1726 by Allison (R-San Antonio) would require districts and charters to annually report data through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) on bullying incidents, including cyberbullying.
  • HB 1744 by Guerra (D-Mission) would require TEA to develop a program of study for students pursuing a career teaching bilingual education, English as a second language (ESL), or Spanish. The bill also creates a financial incentive program to prepare educator certification candidates in these subject areas.
  • HB 1754 by Hernandez (D-Hernandez) would require student identification cards for grades 6 and above to include contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • HB 2230 by Bucy (D-Cedar Park) calls for a study on incorporating fine arts into the foundation curriculum for public schools.
  • HB 2258 by Guerra would require TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission to develop a strategic plan to improve and expand bilingual education, including increasing the number of educators certified in bilingual education instruction and the number of dual language immersion/one-way and two-way program models used in public schools. The committee approved a committee substitute for the bill that directs TEA to evaluate the test used to certify bilingual educators.
  • HB 2344 by Zwiener (D-Dripping Springs) would enable a portfolio assessment method for state-required writing assessments and require the Commissioner of Education to adopt rules allowing teachers to grade the writing portfolios of students at their campus. The committee approved a substitute version of the bill today. Read ATPE’s written testimony in support of the original bill here.
  • HB 2800 by Dean (R-Longview) would limit state assessments to those required by federal law.
  • HB 2846 by Coleman (D-Houston) would require schools to provide notice to parents if they do not have a full-time or full-time equivalent nurse on campus.
  • HB 3430 by Landgraf (R-Odessa) would require the education commissioner to establish a grant program for full-service community schools.
  • HB 3456 by White (R-Hillister) would close a loophole in the school finance system that caused some educational entities, such as the Windham School District, the Texas School for the Deaf, and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, to be subject to mandatory 5% budget reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The approved committee substitute for the bill would also include the Goodwill Adult Education Charter School.
  • HB 4257 by Morales Shaw would require a district's trauma-informed care policy to include the district's plan for providing mental health support in the event of a crisis. The committee approved a substitute for the bill today.

The following bills were also approved by the committee today:

  • HB 144 by González (D-Clint) would create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) supplement to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and other disruptions to student learning. The committee voted to advance a committee substitute for the bill today.
  • HB 220 by Bernal (D-San Antonio) would allow for persistently low-performing campuses to apply for a designation as a “resource campus” that would then require them to adhere to several programmatic requirements, such as those pertaining to teacher experience and appraisal performance. The committee approved a substitute version of the bill.
  • HB 424 by King, K. (R-Hemphill) would require the SBOE to review and revise the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to narrow the number and scope of required content standards. The bill would also make changes to how the SBOE issues proclamations for instructional materials.
  • HB 586 by Cole (D-Austin) would create the Texas Public Finance Authority that districts could use for loans, debt obligations, and bonds.
  • HB 605 by Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) would require school districts to adopt a healthy and safe school water plan. The committee approved a substitute for this bill that made changes to its reporting requirements.
  • HB 1206 by Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would allow the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) to be used for costs associated with distance learning, including Wi-Fi, hotspots, network service, broadband services, and other services and equipment needed to facilitate internet access.
  • HB 1252 by Moody (D-El Paso) would prohibit TEA from enforcing a shorter timeline for filing a due process complaint regarding special education than what is allowed by federal law.
  • HB 1568 by Middleton (R-Wallisville) would change the criteria of districts included in the state comptroller’s school district property value study.
  • HB 2193 by Dominguez would require the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to create an adaptive sports program for students with disabilities.
  • HB 2465 by Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) would add cultural inclusion to the required enrichment curriculum, to be developed by the SBOE.
  • HB 2664 by Martinez (D-Weslaco) would enable school boards to adopt, before December 21, 2024, either three- or four-year staggered terms for their trustees.
  • HB 2681 by Wilson (R-Marble Falls) would extend the availability of an elective course on the Bible down to middle school and expand the certificates allowed for teaching such a course. Under the bill, the course could count for social studies credit at the middle school level.
  • HB 2688 by VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would require any school board trustee to run for reelection in the next scheduled election if the trustee voted to extend the contract of a superintendent and then voted within one year to make a severance payment to the same superintendent.
  • HB 2721 by Lucio III (D-Brownsville) would prohibit a student from participating in UIL activities if they assault a referee, judge, or other official in retaliation for that person's actions.
  • HB 2756 by Allen (D-Houston) would increase flexibility in the ability of school districts to donate food to a nonprofit organization.
  • HB 2769 by Campos (D-San Antonio) would require the SBOE to adopt curriculum standards for coding video games within the technology applications TEKS for K-12.
  • HB 3033 by Klick (R-Fort Worth) would add a PEIMS reporting requirement on emergency detentions (when a person is transported to an emergency medical service provider or mental health facility).
  • HB 3089 by Hull (R-Houston) would require all School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) meetings to comply with the Open Meetings Act.
  • HB 3204 by Dutton (D-Houston) would change the definition of career readiness to include students who are employed at or above a minimum salary level established by the education commissioner. It would also let school districts use a portion of their College and Career Readiness Outcomes Bonus to pay students who voluntarily report their employment and salary information to the district. The committee approved a substitute version of the bill today.
  • HB 3449 by Price (R-Amarillo) would allow districts to include licensed medical professionals on their concussion oversight team and include physical therapists in the list of people who can determine that a child had a concussion and needs to be removed from practice or competition. The committee approved a substitute for the bill that makes changes to the list of people eligible to make such determinations.
  • HB 3485 by Goodwin (D-Austin) would require a report of discipline data included in the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), such as reports to local law enforcement, suspensions, changes in school placement, expulsions, arrests, and referrals to truancy court. The committee approved a substitute that requires the report to track students’ ethnicity and special education status, removes the requirement for annual reporting of classroom removals by teachers, and changes the notification regarding corporal punishment.
  • HB 3489 by Parker (R-Flower Mound) would require TEA and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop and distribute health and safety guidelines for the use of digital devices in schools. The committee approved a substitute version of the bill today.
  • HB 3591 by Jetton (R-Richmond) would require TEA to establish a grant program for districts to provide high-speed internet, infrastructure, and devices.
  • HB 3862 by VanDeaver would expand the ability of a school board of trustees to remove a member of the board.
  • The committee substitute for HB 4124 by Hinojosa (D-Austin) would allow special purpose school districts to prioritize military-connected students in enrollment.
  • HB 4509 by Bonnen (R-Friendswood) would change the statutory objectives of public education and required curriculum to incorporate the concepts of informed patriotism.
The House Public Education Committee is scheduled to meet again Tuesday, April 27 to hear a few remaining House bills and several Senate bills. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates. ATPE members are encouraged to visit Advocacy Central to follow the progress of bills and send messages to their lawmakers about legislation of interest or concern.


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