Texas House Public Education Committee recap from April 13, 2021
Texas Legislature Curriculum | Instruction TEA | Commissioner | SBOE School Safety Testing | Accountability
Date Posted: 4/14/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
The Texas House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, April 13, to consider 30 new bills covering topics such as student testing, special education, school safety, and more.
ATPE submitted written testimony against House Bill (HB) 3979 by Toth (R-Conroe), which would create needless uncertainty for teachers in how they can teach social studies, civics, and related topics. The bill would also put the Legislature in an improper role of dictating content to be taught, a duty reserved for the State Board of Education (SBOE), which has a rigorous process for adopting the standards taught in schools that includes substantial teacher input. Additionally, HB 3979 proposes differential treatment for traditional school districts and charter schools by prohibiting traditional school districts from engaging in certain activities that promote civic engagement and advocacy among students while permitting charter schools to do those same things.
Here are the other bills heard by the committee, including several that ATPE supported:
- HB 24 by Dominguez (D-Brownsville) is an ATPE-supported bill that would provide additional funding for school districts to build an inclusive and accessible playground for students.
- HB 204 by Thierry (D-Houston) is an ATPE-supported bill that would require school districts and charter schools to provide a landline telephone or “panic button” in every classroom. Thierry presented a committee substitute for the bill that eliminated the landline requirement and explained that the panic button can be software-based, a button pressed on a screen such as a phone screen, rather than a physical button.
- HB 370 by Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) would allow for accountability-related rules to be delayed until the second year after the rule is adopted.
- HB 742 by Burns (R-Cleburne) 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.
- HB 750 by Burns is an ATPE-supported bill that 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.
- 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.
- HB 1016 by Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso) is an ATPE-supported bill that 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.
- HB 1252 by Moody (D-El Paso) would prohibit the Texas Education Agency (TEA) from enforcing a shorter timeline for filing a due process complaint regarding special education than what is allowed by federal law.
- HB 1311 by Reynolds (D-Missouri City) would change the way Fort Bend ISD school board trustees are elected.
- HB 1288 by Reynolds would require Fort Bend ISD to hold its school board election on the November uniform election date.
- 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 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.
- HB 2465 by Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) would include cultural inclusion in 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 2800 by Dean (R-Longview) would limit state assessments to those required by federal law. ATPE supports the bill, which relates to one of our top legislative priorities this session regarding student testing.
- HB 3089 by Hull (R-Houston) would require all School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) meetings to comply with the Open Meetings Act.
- 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.
- HB 3430 by Landgraf (R-Odessa) is an ATPE-supported bill that would require the education commissioner to establish a grant program for full-service community schools.
- 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.
- 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. Goodwin presented a committee 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 3638 by Johnson, Ja. (D-Houston) would require the SBOE to establish and maintain an African American studies advisory board to expand social studies content related to the history of African Americans.
- 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 was not granted, TEA would not be able to use the tests for accountability ratings, sanctions, grade promotion, or graduation. ATPE supports the bill, which relates to our legislative priority on testing and accountability reform.
- HB 3889 by Morales Shaw (D-Houston) is an ATPE-supported bill that would help ensure students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch have access to broadband service.
- 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.
- HB 4257 by Morales Shaw is an ATPE-supported bill that 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. Enhancing mental health resources for public school students and staff is another ATPE legislative priority this year.
- 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.
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