Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to take up the home rule bill, HB 1798, on the House floor. Similar legislation in the form of SB 1012 is pending in the Texas Senate Education Committee.
This week the Dallas Morning News published an op-ed by former Lieutenant Governor and Raise Your Hand Texas Advisory Board member Bill Ratliff – the author of the original home-rule legislation passed in 1995: “Bill doesn’t solve home-rule law’s problems; it makes them worse.” In it, he reinforces the intent of home-rule to allow all members of the community to work together to chart the course of local school operations and allow schools freedom from onerous state mandates, and cautions legislators not to undermine that intent in new legislation.
In the proposed home rule bill, a group from outside the local community in question could employ paid signature collectors and present a take-it-or-leave-it plan to the rest of the community, ending the local control planning process rather than sparking and fostering it. Additionally, the legislation could empower an outside group to determine the future governance structure of the home rule district over the local citizens served by those schools.
On April 16, 2015, Raise Your Hand Texas CEO Dr. David Anthony testified on SB 1012, sharing with committee members that, while “Raise Your Hand Texas generally supports the home rule concept and the right of local voters to determine how they want their district to be organized,” the organization “fundamentally disagrees with the process by which the local control plan would be adopted as the bill is currently written.”
Raise Your Hand Texas encourages Texas citizens to contact your House members and tell them to preserve the local control intent of home rule.