Capitol Update 2/18: An Insider’s Guide to Key Legislative Issues in Texas Public Education

February 19, 2013 |

House Public Education Committee to Consider Assessment/Accountability Bills

The House Public Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. or upon adjournment to consider several bills related to testing and accountability, including House Bill 5 by Chairman Aycock. HB 5 is the Chairman’s omnibus assessment and accountability bill. The other bills on the agenda relate to various aspects of testing and accountability and some overlap with the contents of HB 5.

Raise Your Hand Texas CEO David Anthony will testify in support of HB 5 and its efforts to restructure and refocus our testing and accountability system. In particular, the bill’s plans to provide more flexibility to students, reduce the number of end-of-course exams and more fairly assign accountability ratings to school districts and campuses are crucial elements that would greatly improve the current system. A copy of RYHT’s testimony will be available after the hearing in our Advocacy Center.

Senate Education Committee Will Convene Panels to Discuss Testing

The Senate Education Committee will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 8:30 a.m. to hear from various panels about testing and accountability. The committee will hear a review of the current system by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and will hear from education groups, business groups, teacher groups and parent groups for their perspective on the issue.

Raise Your Hand Texas CEO Dr. David Anthony will participate in a panel, and looks forward to sharing Raise Your Hand Texas’ views on this crucial issue. A copy of his testimony will be available following the hearing online in the Advocacy Center.

Public Education Funding on the Agenda for House Appropriations and Senate Finance Subcommittees/Workgroups

The Article III Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will meet on Monday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 a.m. in JHR 140 to discuss funding for public education and the Texas Education Agency.

Similarly, the Article III workgroup of Senate Finance has posted a notice that it will be meeting on Monday, February 18, at 3:30 PM in the Senate Finance hearing room (E1.028) to discuss Texas public education funding.

House Public Education Committee Holds First Hearing

The House Public Education Committee met on Tuesday, Feb. 12 for its first regular hearing of the session. In lieu of hearing bills, the committee heard from TEA officials for a review of the current testing and accountability system, including remarks by Commissioner Michael Williams. The hearing provided an opportunity for the public and new committee members to learn about the complex system.

Senate Education Committee Hears SB 3 by Patrick

The Senate Education Committee met on Tuesday, Feb. 12 to consider Chairman Patrick’s Senate Bill 3, relating to public high school graduation, including curriculum requirements for graduation and funding in support of certain curriculum authorized for graduation. The committee heard more than six hours of testimony from students, parents, teachers, business officials, education groups and others. The bill was left pending. Raise Your Hand Texas submitted written testimony supporting the bill.

On a Lighter Note, Check out the Watson Wire

If you like your politics and policy with a dose of humor, check out Senator Kirk Watson’s (D-Austin) Watson Wire. The blog, which is posted every Tuesday, provides Senator Watson’s perspective on the issues of the day at the Texas Capitol and is always an entertaining read.

His most recent post, “What ‘Unconstitutional’ Means,” was particularly poignant as it described how Judge John Dietz’s ruling that Texas schools aren’t funded fairly or adequately is actually giving many Texas legislators a reason not to act. Watson also touches on the debate over school vouchers, writing:

Well, there’s vouchers – or, if you prefer, backdoor vouchers that reward companies with tax breaks for putting money into private schools, thereby reducing funding for public schools that our constitution is trying to protect.

Actually, scratch that. The concerns about backdoor vouchers (and doubts about their chances for passage) are so deep that last week, the voucher talk was actually talk about whether we should be talking about vouchers at all.

Check it out!

Participate in the Save Texas Schools Rally—February 23rd

If you want to stand up for Texas public schools, Save Texas Schools is hosting a march and rally at the Capitol in Austin on Saturday, February 23rd. The march is scheduled to begin on the Congress Avenue Bridge at 10:45 AM, heading to the South Steps of the Capitol where it will continue from noon-1:30 PM.

You can sign up to be an organizer in your area and learn about scholarships for buses from your community to the rally at the Save Texas Schools website. Make this year’s rally for public schools the biggest one yet!

Stay Informed!

One of the keys to being an effective advocate for public education is staying informed. We hope you find our Capitol Update to be helpful. If so, forward it to a friend!

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