Texas House Public Education Committee recap from April 6, 2021
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Date Posted: 4/07/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
The Texas House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, April 6, considering its longest agenda of so far this session. Bills on the agenda covered topics such as educator preparation, certification, and ongoing training, charter school policy, and curriculum.
Among the bills heard Tuesday were several that ATPE opposed or recommended changing significantly:
- 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.
- HB 2554 by Gates (R-Richmond) would allow the creation of “joint vocational school districts” to serve high school students “whose educational needs are better served by focused vocational education and training.” ATPE opposes this bill due to its provisions that harm student equity and the integrity of the public education system, such as potentially subjecting students to lesser quality educational environments and uncertified teachers. Read ATPE's written testimony, in which we were joined by the three other statewide teacher groups in opposing HB 2554 here.
- HB 3528 by Sanford (R-McKinney) is a bill that was originally scheduled for a hearing the previous week but postponed. The bill would extend Texas Virtual School Network courses into grades K-2. ATPE opposes this bill based on evidence that younger students have an even greater need for in-person instruction.
- HB 4465 by Dutton (D-Houston) would create a grant program for districts affected by disasters. The bill gives the appointed Commissioner of Education a large amount of power in determining how the grant money would be spent, the ability 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. For these reasons, ATPE opposes HB 4465.
- HB 4545 by Dutton (D-Houston) 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, among other things. Sections of the bill would give the appointed Commissioner of Education a vast amount of power to create and manage educational programs using taxpayer dollars and without adequate voter oversight. However, ATPE supports the bill's decoupling of grade promotion from state assessments. For these reasons, ATPE testified neutrally on this bill, but pointed out several of our concerns with the proposal and recommended changes.
Here’s a rundown of all the other bills heard by the House Public Education Committee during its lengthy April 6 meeting:
- 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. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 81 by Rodriguez (D-Austin) would allow campuses to operate as a community school under their campus turnaround plan. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 97 by Hinojosa (D-Austin) would prohibit charter schools from including a consideration for discipline history in their admissions. ATPE supports the bill.
- 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 charter school executive director or superintendent. ATPE supports the bill.
- 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.
- 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. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 450 by González, M. (D-Clint) would ensure appropriate and timely notification of charter school expansion to impacted districts and state legislators and would shorten the timeline of TEA review of charter expansion amendments. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 572 by Dutton (D-Houston) would create a dropout recovery competency-based pilot program that is a charter school, with flexibility on seat time and attendance.
- HB 998 by Dutton (D-Houston) would lower the age for enrollment in a dropout recovery charter school from 17 to 16 and would make changes to how dropout recovery schools are evaluated under the public school accountability system.
- 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. ATPE supports the bill.
- 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.
- HB 1194 by Wu (D-Houston) would require districts and charter schools to report to TEA on restraints, complaints, citations, and arrests of students.
- HB 1207 by Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would require the State Board for Educator Certification to create a “school turnaround specialist endorsement” for principals. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 1249 by Ramos (D-Richardson) would require that charter schools disclose their three most recent financial statements, including on their website. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 1504 by Morales, C. (D-Houston) would include ethnic studies within social studies as one credit, allowing for students to substitute ethnic studies for world geography or world history.
- HB 1776 by Bell, K. (R-Forney) would require a school district to permit and encourage the posting of founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, and to offer an elective course on founding principles of the United States. An identical Senate version of the bill will be heard Thursday by the Senate Education Committee.
- HB 1942 by VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would allow for the expansion of adult high school diploma and industry certification programs in charter schools.
- HB 2256 by Guerra (D-Mission) would require SBEC to establish a bilingual special education teacher certification. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 2756 by Allen (D-Houston) would increase flexibility around the ability of school districts to donate food to a nonprofit organization. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 2802 by Dean (R-Longview) would require TEA to apply for a testing waiver if a statewide disaster is declared that disrupts education. If denied, the state would not be allowed to use the student test 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, which ATPE has been advocating since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 2874 by Anchia (D-Dallas) would require school districts and charter schools to issue ID cards to all high school students including the student’s name, date of birth, and photo.
- 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.
- HB 3256 by Harless (R-Spring) would keep educators’ residential address hidden on appraisal records. ATPE supports the bill.
- 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 to help administer state assessments electronically.
- 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. ATPE supports the bill.
- HB 3299 by Allison (R-San Antonio) would add “the relationship between physical and mental health” to the health curriculum offered by schools.
- HB 3445 by Huberty (R-Kingwood) would impose various requirements on school districts and charters that have excess fund balances, such as requiring that the funds be used to pay down debt.
- HB 3450 by White (R-Hillister) would modify existing laws regarding educators’ use of force.
- HB 3597 by Metcalf (R-Conroe) calls for various minor changes to school district policies on school safety provisions that were enacted last session.
- HB 3846 by Krause (R-Fort Worth) would change the school start date law and prohibit Districts of Innovation (DOIs) that are reapplying for DOI status from claiming exemptions from laws regarding the first and last days of instruction.
- HB 3864 by Murr (R-Junction) would allow school districts to excuse students from attending school for career investigation.
- HB 3932 by Bernal (D-San Antonio) would establish a “State Advisory Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children” to coordinate state agencies, school districts, and military installations with regard to the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.
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