Texas House Public Education Committee approves (likely) last batch of Senate bills
Texas Legislature Curriculum | Instruction Testing | Accountability
Date Posted: 5/20/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
The House Public Education (HPE) committee held a formal meeting Thursday, May 20, to advance to the full House what is likely their final batch of Senate bills. Saturday, May 22, is the last day House committees can report Senate bills, which then head to the House Calendars committee and face other deadlines to be set for consideration by the House.
The committee voted to advance the committee substitute for Senate Bill (SB) 2094 by Taylor (R-Friendswood) today, an accountability bill on which ATPE has provided neutral testimony. SB 2094 is the companion bill to House Bill (HB) 4545 by Dutton (D-Houston). The House version of this bill had a rough time passing the House until it was amended favorably and secured with Dutton’s agreement to work to maintain those changes as the bill advanced through the Senate.
The version of SB 2094 approved today by the HPE committee is the same as the House’s improved version of HB 4545. ATPE believes the bill makes positive changes by decoupling grade promotion from students’ test results. ATPE also strongly supports the House’s removal of outcomes-based funding that appeared in earlier versions of the legislation, and we implored House members to maintain this change in SB 2094. However, SB 2094 does not ensure formula funding for the accelerated learning committees that will replace grade placement committees under this bill. Additionally, SB 2094 would allow parents of students receiving supplemental instruction to choose their child’s teacher, which is impractical. See ATPE’s written testimony for more information.
SB 2094 was approved by the committee today with 9 ayes and 3 nays (Allen, González, Meza). Rep. Bernal was absent.
The committee also approved the following bills today with a vote of 12 ayes and 0 nays (Rep. Bernal absent):
- SB 348 by Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would entitle a parent to observe any virtual instruction and review any teaching materials, instructional materials, or other teaching aids provided to their child for virtual or remote learning. Existing law already entitles a parent to review teaching materials, and this bill clarifies that the law also covers virtual instruction.
- SB 2026 by Taylor would add informed patriotism to the educational objectives for public schools laid out in the Texas Education Code.
Two bills failed to receive enough committee votes today to be advanced to the full House:
- SB 215 by Bettencourt (R-Houston) would create an office of inspector general appointed by the education commissioner and tasked with investigating "wrongdoing, waste, fraud, and abuse" by school districts, charters, or other local education agencies. After Reps. Allen, Allison, Bell, Bernal, Buckley, González, Huberty, and King stated their nays on the bill, Chairman Dutton stopped the vote and declared that the bill failed.
- SB 347 by Paxton (R-McKinney) would subject school health advisory committee (SHAC) meetings to the Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act. After Reps. Allen, Buckley, González, King, Meza, and Talarico stated their nay votes on the bill, Chairman Dutton stopped the vote and declared that the bill failed.
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