House Public Education Committee hears first academics and school safety bills
Texas Legislature Curriculum | Instruction Privatization | Vouchers School Safety Testing | Accountability
Date Posted: 3/09/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
The Texas House Public Education Committee held its first hearing on bills today, March 9, taking testimony from live witnesses and a few individuals who appeared before the committee virtually. The bills heard today mainly focused on academics but also included a couple school safety proposals.
ATPE registered support for the following bills on today’s agenda:
House Bill (HB) 773 by VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would add an indicator into the school accountability system for students who successfully complete a program of study in career and technical education (CTE). This bill passed the full House and the Senate Education Committee last session but was never brought to the Senate floor for consideration.
HB 1147 by Huberty (R-Kingwood) would add students who enlist in the Texas National Guard to the definition of military readiness, which is part of the College, Career, and Military Readiness Outcomes Bonus created by last session’s HB 3 (2019). In current law, the definition only includes students who enlist in the United States armed forces.
ATPE provided written testimony against HB 547 by Frank (R-Wichita Falls), which would require public school districts to allow home-school students to participate in UIL activities. ATPE has had longstanding positions in our member-adopted Legislative Program that oppose giving home-school students the same access to UIL activities that public school students have. Several people, including some from the home-school community, testified against the bill today. Many public school advocates oppose the bill for its holding home-school students to different standards, including “No Pass, No Play” rules and curriculum and testing requirements applicable to public school students. Some home-schooling advocates fear that the bill, sometimes referred to as "the Tim Tebow Act" in reference to the former professional football player who was home-scooled as a child in another state, will lead to increased scrutiny and mandates being imposed on home-school students.
Other bills considered in today’s hearing were:
HB 434 by Keith Bell (R-Forney) would allow students to substitute a CTE course in place of a fine arts credit currently required for high school graduation. The bill garnered testimony from several people representing both the CTE and fine arts communities.
HB 690 by Metcalf (R-Conroe) would require school board members to take a course on school safety created by the Texas School Safety Center and the State Board of Education. This bill passed the House last session but did not make it through the Senate chamber.
HB 699 by Rosenthal (D-Houston) would allow an excused absence for students experiencing a severe or life-threatening illness, such as cancer, or related treatment. It would also allow excused absences for students in this situation to be excluded from the 90% attendance rule.
All the above bills were left pending in the committee without votes taken today. Rep. Harless’s HB 759 and Rep. Metcalf’s HB 691 were also on the original agenda for today’s hearing but were not heard at the authors’ request.
Chairman Dutton did not announce a date for the next meeting of the House Public Education Committee, but we expect another hearing on bills next Tuesday at 8 am. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates. ATPE members are also encouraged to visit Advocacy Central to follow the progress of bills and send messages to their lawmakers about legislation of particular interest or concern.
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