Capitol Update 4/12: An Insider’s Guide To Key Legislative Issues In Texas Public Education Policy

April 15, 2013 |

Senate Passes Balanced Charter School Quality Legislation

On April 2, the Texas Senate passed SB 2, major charter school quality legislation by a vote of 30-1. The bill was passed with an author’s amendment by Chairman Patrick, and two floor amendments by Senator Royce West to further strengthen the bill.

As passed, the bill offers measured growth of the charter school cap while including important provisions to strengthen oversight of charters, including strengthened renewal and revocation procedures and a provision limiting opening of additional campuses by charter school operators to our highest-performing charters.

Raise Your Hand Texas CEO Dr. David Anthony offered the following statement on passage of SB 2:

“The passage today of SB 2 by the Texas Senate represents an important victory for quality, accountability and measured expansion of charter schools in Texas. SB 2 strikes an appropriate balance in encouraging the growth of high quality charter schools while ensuring that the Commissioner of Education has the necessary tools to provide effective quality control and oversight. Raise Your Hand Texas congratulates Senator Patrick for his leadership in balancing these interests, and in passing a strong bill for the benefit of Texas students.”

SB 2 now proceeds to the Texas House for further consideration.

Voucher Bills Approved by Senate Education Committee

At its April 11th meeting, the Senate Education Committee reported out two pieces of voucher legislation, Chairman Patrick’s tax credit voucher proposal (SB 23) and Sen. Williams’ voucher for students with special needs (SB 115).

SB 23 was heard in committee on Tuesday, April 9, and Raise Your Hand Texas and many others testified against the bill. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, representing Raise Your Hand Texas, spoke eloquently about the importance of public school choice, but the detrimental effects of vouchers when he said, “I’ll take a back seat to no one on providing choice to the students of this state,” since he was the author of the original charter school legislation. “However, that choice was in the public arena.”

Although the bills were passed by the committee, members with dissenting views were not present, and greater opposition is expected if the bills are debated on the Senate floor.

Raise Your Hand Texas also testified against another tax credit voucher bill, HB 3245 by Representative Callegari (R-Katy) in the House Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday, April 9. The bill was left pending.

While the prospects for passage of these bills are not high, we urge Raise Your Hand Texas members to keep up the pressure on vouchers. The fight is still on, and we can’t take anything for granted at this point!

Need some extra encouragement? Check out our radio ads here that are airing on stations around the state:

Senate Education Committee to Hear HB 5 Tuesday

The Senate Education Committee will hear HB 5 by Aycock on Tuesday, April 16, in addition to a few remaining Senate bills on the agenda. HB 5 is the omnibus education legislation authored by House Public Education Committee Chairman that makes important changes to standardized testing, graduation plans and the accountability system. HB 5 is a critical piece of legislation that passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, but opponents of the bill are mounting a significant effort to increase the number of tests and to retreat to the status quo or something close to it on graduation requirements.

We encourage everyone who supports meaningful testing and more flexibility for students to contact the members of the Senate Education Committee to urge support for HB 5.

House Public Education Committee to Hear More House Bills Tuesday

Another lengthy agenda of House bills will be heard Tuesday, April 16, in the House Public Education Committee.

Raise Your Hand Texas Statewide Outreach Events Continue

Approximately 100 community and business leaders, parents, students and school officials attended an Advocacy & Engagement dinner in Victoria on Monday, April 8. The event was the latest in a series of statewide outreach events sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas, intended to spread the word about public education issues and the critical need for the citizens of Texas to understand the issues and get involved. See below for coverage of the event and powerful comments by Raise Your Hand Texas CEO Dr. David Anthony. The next Raise Your Hand Texas grassroots events will take place in Amarillo on April 16 and Waco on April 19.

See video from the event here.

Stay Informed!

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