Blog

    Countdown to the 84th Texas Legislative Session, Part 1: Interim Charges

    This is the first in a blog series about being an effective advocate at the Capitol. We encourage all Raise Your Hand Texas members to voice your support and concerns when it comes to issues that affect you, your children, your public schools and communities.

    Countdown to the 84th Texas Legislative Session

    Part 1: Interim Charges

    The working schedule of the Texas Legislature often is viewed as feast or famine.

    The feast

    During the legislative session, which runs from January through May of every odd-numbered year, our elected officials work around the clock – sometimes literally – to pass legislation and determine the state budget for the next two years, or the “biennium.”

    The 84th Legislature kicks off on Jan. 13, 2015, and bills and budgets passed during those 140 days will shape Texas state law and spending for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

    The famine

    For the year and a half that follows the legislative session, most part-time legislators return to their “real jobs” back home, yet their staffs remain on the job at the Capitol in Austin and at local district offices to address constituent concerns, research issues/future bills, and coordinate local events for members to attend.

    While it’s true you can hear crickets in the back halls of the Capitol shortly after a session ends, the period of time between sessions – referred to as the “Interim” – and especially the six to nine months leading up to a new session, provides great opportunities for members, staff and the public to beef up on issues that are important to Texans.

    Enter interim hearings

    During the year prior to a new session, each standing committee of the Texas Senate and House meets to discuss important topics called “charges” that the Lt. Gov. and Speaker have assigned. The interim charges are often a preview of bills and budget items that will be up for consideration during the next session. House committee charges can be found here. Click here for the original list of Senate charges, and here for additional charges Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announced on April 8th.

    Interim hearings give the legislators a chance to “air out” these proposed ideas before the mad rush of the session begins, when committee hearings often overlap and it’s impossible for every member to study about every bill.

    Hot interim issues

    In the House and Senate public education committees, which are of highest concern to Raise Your Hand Texas, topics to be discussed this interim include implementation of House Bill 5 (2013), virtual schools and school turnaround.

    The good news is everyone can play a part in interim hearings; they are usually scheduled with plenty of notice, unlike session hearings, so it’s easier to make plans to attend. Here are the links to meeting schedules for the House and Senate education committees. If you’re really interested, you can even set up alerts to be notified when future hearings dates are set. Visit the Texas Legislature Online to set up an account and your preferences.

    Watching hearings is a great way to see what members, invited expert panelists and the public have to say about bills at your convenience. There has already been one House Public Education Committee hearing this interim, and you can access archived footage of it (you’ll just need RealPlayer downloaded to your computer).

    The next scheduled education-related interim hearing is the Senate Education Committee’s hearing on April 14th at 10 a.m. to discuss testing and House Bill 5 implementation.

    To access this and future committee hearing videos, check out the House video broadcast page and the Senate video broadcast page.

    And even better than watching a hearing is participating in one! As a member of the public, you are welcome to testify before a committee on any issue important to you. Stay tuned for a future blog in this series with tips about constituent advocacy, including how to effectively testify or register your position for a particular issue.

    Questions?

    We know the legislative process can seem overwhelming at first. But don’t be intimidated. Your legislators want to hear from their constituents and your voice can make a huge difference. And Raise Your Hand Texas is here to help. The easiest first step is to subscribe via email for news, updates, and ways to get involved.

    If you have questions, post a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond.

    NextPrevious
    • Baez1

      Do-It-All Principal on Teaching, Tech, and Tumbleweeds

      Raise Your Hand Texas alum Principal Paul Baez (Alief ISD) — aka Captain Elektrikon — is a master multitasker. What he learned about change management during a year-long course at Rice University only strengthened his resolve to constantly push to improve student learning using technology and a very simple, tried-and-true strategy.

      Read More

    • Chisholm-Trail-Header-2-web

      Harnessing the Power of Family Engagement

      Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth is kicking off the new school year with interactive rallies and a commitment to making family engagement a top priority.

      Read More

    • Blended-Learning-Model-Banner-1

      Understanding the Different Models of Blended Learning

      There’s no reason to feel intimidated by the concept of blended learning. It helps to understand how each of the blended learning models operate and what they look like in practice.

      Read More

    • Teamwork-1

      Giving Students a Stake in Their School

      Everyone in education says they put students’ interests first. But not everyone asks students what they think, what theyneed, and what they want.

      Gary Henry, principal of Valley Oaks Elementary School in Spring Branch ISD, did just that when he involved students – his customers – in a key part of re-constructing their school: designing the playground.

      Read More

    • FSG_Header-1

      Measuring Blended Learning Impact – Raising Blended Learners and Developmental Evaluation

      In this latest post of our Raising Blended Learners series, Director Matt Wilka of FSG — a firm specializing in strategy, research, and evaluation — explains how evaluators will use developmental evaluation to assess the success of the initiative.

      Read More

    • Student-Centered-header

      Scaling Student-Centered Instruction: The Power of Blended Learning

      How do you effectively unpack the power of blended learning? By exponentially increasing student-centered learning. Our use of the mathematical term “exponentially” is not incidental. We conceptualize the impact of blended learning as the exponent in a formula for creating student-centered learning at scale.

      Read More

    • HarvardBlog3

      60-Second Cohort Reports from Harvard

      Some of the Texas public school principals Raise Your Hand Texas selected to sponsor for the 2016 Harvard Leadership Program briefly discuss take-aways from the start of the School Turnaround course.

      Read More

    • 285A3235 copy

      2016 Harvard Leadership Program Begins

      More than 90 Texas public school principals are spending a week at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where they’re learning how to change the world of education. Read more about this summer professional development courses that are effectively improving public schools around the state.

      Read More