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Texas House Public Education Committee approves mix of bills during April 15 meeting

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Educator Preparation | Certification Texas Legislature TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Testing | Accountability

Date Posted: 4/16/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier

With session-related deadlines not far ahead, the Texas House Public Education Committee held a formal meeting Thursday evening, April 15, to vote on numerous pending bills that had been heard in recent week. Vice-Chair Lozano was absent for all votes.

ATPE previously opposed or gave neutral testimony expressing concerns with the following bills that were approved by the committee last night:

  • House Bill (HB) 622 by Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) would require the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to create an abbreviated educator preparation program for teacher certifications in marketing and health science technology. ATPE believes such programs would deviate from the rigorous preparation required of other certified educators and harm students’ access to highly effective teachers. Additionally, educators certified under this bill would then be able to become certified in other subjects (including core subjects) using the certification-by-exam route. For these reasons, ATPE submitted written testimony against HB 622, in which we pointed out that expedited certification pathways already exist in state law and SBEC rules to deal with any areas experiencing a shortage of teachers. Vote: 10 Ayes (Allison, Bell, Bernal, Buckley, Dutton, Huberty, King, Meza, Talarico, VanDeaver), 1 Present-not-voting (Gonzalez), 2 Absent (Allen and Lozano)
  • HB 3731 by Dutton (D-Houston) would make several changes to the state’s “A through F” accountability rating system for schools, including treating D-rated schools as failing in some instances. ATPE opposes this bill because it creates further instability in the controversial rating system without providing any greater effectiveness in identifying why certain schools are struggling and providing resources to those schools. For more information, read ATPE’s written testimony against the bill. Vote: 8 Ayes (Allison, Bell, Bernal, Buckley, Dutton, Huberty, King, VanDeaver) 4 Nays (Allen, Gonzalez, Meza, Talarico), 1 Absent (Lozano)
  • HB 4465 by Dutton would create a grant program for school districts affected by disasters. The bill gives the appointed Commissioner of Education vast power in determining how the grant money would be spent, the authority to take the grant money back, and the ability to make unappealable and final decisions. The grants could also be used for direct payments to parents for the purchase of instructional services or equipment related to broadband. The commissioner would also have authority to adjust school district funding based on grant funds, which would allow the state to use federal funding to supplant state funds. Vote: 12 Ayes (Allen, Allison, Bell, Bernal, Buckley, Dutton, Gonzalez, Huberty, King, Meza, Talarico, VanDeaver), 1 Absent (Lozano)
  • HB 4545 by Dutton would decouple grade promotion requirements from state assessment results, create a “Strong Foundations Grant Program” for pre-K-5 campuses, and make several changes related to accelerated instruction. Sections of this bill would give the appointed Commissioner of Education expansive power to create and manage taxpayer-funded educational programs without adequate voter oversight. However, ATPE supports the bill's decoupling of grade promotion from state assessments. For these reasons, ATPE testified neutrally on HB 4545, pointing out our concerns with the proposal and recommended changes to it. Vote: 7 Ayes (Allison, Bell, Buckley, Dutton, Huberty, King, VanDeaver), 5 Nays (Allen, Bernal, Gonzalez, Meza, Talarico), 1 Absent (Lozano)
On a more positive note, ATPE supported the following bills also approved by the House Public Education Committee last night:
  • HB 81 by Rodriguez (D-Austin) would allow campuses to operate as a community school under their campus turnaround plan. (Vote: 11-0, Allen and Lozano absent)
  • HB 189 by Canales (D-Edinburg) would apply the same law regarding severance payments to public school superintendents to similar individuals in charter schools, such as the executive director or superintendent. (Vote: 11-0, Allen and Lozano absent)
  • HB 750 by Burns (R-Cleburne) would require school districts to post on their website the employment policy adopted by their board and the text of any regulations or forms referenced in the policy. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 1014 by Bucy (D-Cedar Park) would require suicide prevention information to be included on student IDs issued by schools in grades six through higher education. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 1207 by Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would require SBEC n to create a “school turnaround specialist endorsement” for principals. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 2256 by Guerra (D-Mission) would require SBEC to establish a bilingual special education teacher certification. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 2802 by Dean (R-Longview) would require TEA to apply for a testing waiver if a statewide disaster that disrupts education is declared by the U.S. President or Texas Governor. If the waiver is denied, the state would not be allowed to use assessment results to assign school ratings, apply sanctions, or determine student promotion and graduation. The bill would also require TEA to apply for a waiver of assessments for the 2020-21 school year. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3256 by Harless (R-Spring) would keep educators’ residential address hidden on property appraisal records. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3298 by Allison (R-San Antonio) would establish a computer science and technology applications professional development grant program and a computer science strategic advisory committee. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3668 by VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would eliminate non-federally required state assessments and decouple grade promotion and graduation from assessment scores. The bill would require the education commissioner to apply for federal testing waivers for districts impacted by a disaster. If the waiver is not granted, TEA would not be able to use the tests for accountability ratings, sanctions, grade promotion, or graduation. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3889 by Morales Shaw (D-Houston) would help ensure students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch have access to broadband service. (Vote: 12-0)
Here are the remaining bills approved by the committee last night:
  • HB 370 by Gervin-Hawkins would allow for accountability-related rules to be delayed until the second year after the rule is adopted. (Vote: 8-4: Bell, Huberty, King, VanDeaver nays)
  • HB 572 by Dutton would create a dropout recovery competency-based pilot program that is a charter school, with flexibility on seat time and attendance. (Vote: 11-0, Allen and Lozano absent)
  • HB 742 by Burns would allow parents of students with significant cognitive disabilities to request exemption from alternative assessments and would define "specialized support campuses" as those that serve at least 90% of students who are unable to provide an authentic academic response on an alternative assessment. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 764 by Krause (R-Fort Worth) would eliminate non-federally required STAAR exams, remove end-of-course (EOC) exams, redesign high school graduation requirements, and allow districts to substitute EOCs with other exams such as the SAT or ACT. (Vote: 9-3: Huberty, King, Dutton nays)
  • HB 998 by Dutton would lower the age for enrollment in a dropout recovery charter school from 17 to 16 and make changes to how dropout recovery schools are evaluated under the accountability system. (Vote: 11-0, Allen and Lozano absent)
  • HB 1080 by Patterson et al. (R-Frisco) would ensure UIL rules do not exclude public school students who are receiving outpatient mental health services.  (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 1144 by Ramos (D-Richardson) would require suicide prevention training at least once every two years, rather than leaving the frequency of the training up to TEA. (Vote: 10-2, Buckley and King nays)
  • HB 1194 by Wu (D-Houston) would require districts and charter schools to report to TEA on restraints, complaints, citations, and arrests of students. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 1504 by Morales, C. (D-Houston) would include ethnic studies within social studies as one credit, allowing students to substitute ethnic studies for world geography or world history. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 1776 by Bell, K. (R-Forney) would require a school district to permit and encourage the posting of founding documents such as the U.S. Declaration of Independence and offer an elective course on founding principles of the United States. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 2391 (committee substitute) by Dominguez would allow open-enrollment charter schools to use a weighted lottery system for admission, with weights for student populations such as those who are at-risk of dropping out. The bill would also require the schools to post on their website how they admit students, including whether they use a lottery or weighted lottery. (Vote: 11-1: Huberty nay)
  • HB 2874 by Anchia (D-Dallas) would require school districts and charter schools to issue ID cards to all high school students that includes their name, date of birth, and photo. (Vote: 9-3: Bell, Buckley, King nays)
  • HB 2975 by Hull (R-Houston) would prohibit school district peace officers or security personnel from restraining a student under 10 years of age unless there is a serious risk of harm to the student or others. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3261 by Huberty (R-Kingwood) would make a variety of changes to the state’s testing program, such as establishing a matching grant program for schools to use on the infrastructure necessary to administer state assessments electronically. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3299 by Allison would include “the relationship between physical and mental health” in the health curriculum offered in schools. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3450 by White (R-Hillister) would extend the prohibition on negative employment action for reasonable use of force to all district employees, rather than just professional employees, and make language in Penal Code pertaining to teachers more specific. (Vote: 10-2: Talarico, Bernal nays) 
  • HB 3597 by Metcalf (R-Conroe) would make various changes regarding school safety, relating to the work of the legislature in the last legislative session. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3864 by Murr (R-Junction) would allow school districts to excuse students from attending school for a career investigation day. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 3400 by Paddie (R-Marshall) would allow the child of a peace officer who believes their child is unsafe to transfer to another campus or district. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 4096 by Howard (D-Austin) would require TEA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a model data-sharing agreement between school districts and institutions of higher education. (Vote: 12-0)
  • HB 4334 by Minjarez (D-San Antonio) would require districts to give students information about public assistance programs and require TEA and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop a model form for districts to use. (Vote: 12-0)
We expect the House Public Education Committee to meet again Tuesday, April 20. 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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