Capitol Update 4/19: Key Legislative Issues In Texas Public Education Policy

April 21, 2013 |

House Bill 5 Keeps Moving Forward

The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on Tuesday, April 16 to consider HB 5 by Aycock/Patrick. As the Austin American Statesman noted, “Major changes to the state’s high school testing and graduation standards are moving full speed ahead in the Texas Senate despite high-powered efforts to stall the legislation.” Chairman Patrick had strong words for interests seeking to attack the legislation as backing off on rigor. Coverage of his remarks can be found in these Texas Tribune and Austin American Statesman articles.

Following many hours of testimony, the committee favorably reported a committee substitute for HB 5 to the full Senate (7 ayes; 2 present-not-voting). Among the changes to the bill included in the committee substitute were the following:

  • replaced the graduation requirement language with Sen. Patrick’s SB 3’s graduation plan, which changes the endorsement options to: business and industry, STEM, and arts and humanities (removing the public services and multidisciplinary endorsements) and specifies which classes are required for each;
  • removed the A-F accountability ratings (leaving the current rating system in place, although Senator Patrick has a separate bill with the A-F system); and
  • added a provision for state-paid ACT/SAT tests for all 11th graders.

Other smaller provisions were added by amendments from various committee members.

The next step for HB 5 is for it to be heard (and presumably) passed by the full Senate. It will then go to a Conference Committee (5 members appointed from each house), where the differences between the House and Senate versions will be negotiated.

Senate Leadership Continues to Push School Vouchers

Despite the overwhelming rejection of school vouchers by the Texas House and a resolution passed by the State Board of Education against vouchers by a vote of 10-5 (read more here), several voucher proposals are pending on the Senate calendar as voucher proponents try to garner the 21 votes necessary to bring the bills to the Senate floor.

Voucher bills on the Senate Calendar include SB 23 by Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and SB 115 by Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands). Also pending on the Senate Calendar is SB 1298 by Senator Glenn Hegar, which has been referred to as a “virtual voucher” which would use taxpayer funds for home-schooled and private school students without the accountability standards applied to our local public schools.

Find your Texas senator here, and let your senator know that you oppose school vouchers in any form!

Amarillo Grassroots Event a Huge Success

Community leaders, business officials and others gathered for an Advocacy & Engagement luncheon in Amarillo on Tuesday, April 16. The event was organized and sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas in an effort to engage citizens across the state in meaningful public education reform.

Amarillo ISD school board member Anette Carlisle served as the event host, and Former TEA Commissioner Mike Moses was the keynote speaker. Moses emphasized the need for flexibility and a reasonable approach to our current testing and accountability systems. “Four by four sounds pretty good, but I don’t know if one size fits all for every child,” he said.

Click here for coverage of the event by the Amarillo Globe-News. Below: photo of Amarillo leaders “raising their hand” for Texas public education!

Waco Grassroots Luncheon Postponed

In light of the recent tragedy in the West/Waco region, Raise Your Hand Texas has postponed our Advocacy & Engagement luncheon scheduled for Friday, April 19. Please stay tuned for a new luncheon date. If you have questions about the event, please contact us at [email protected].

House Committee to Hear SB 2 Tuesday

The House Public Education Committee will hear a full agenda of House bills in addition to SB 2 by Patrick on Tuesday, April 23 (see the complete agenda here).

SB 2 is the charter school legislation we featured in last week’s Capitol Update as being a balanced approach to the challenges and needs facing charter schools. The editorial board of the Austin American Statesman agrees, praising Sen. Patrick’s, “willingness to compromise with Democratic colleagues yielded a better bill that addresses serious flaws in current law. And by slowing down the expansion of charter schools, it gives the state time to improve oversight and do a better job in overseeing current charters as new ones come on board.” (Read article here.)

Senate Education Committee Will Meet Tuesday

Click here for the full agenda.

Stay Informed!

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