Bills of concern enter final stages of the process this week | TCTA
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Bills of concern enter final stages of the process this week

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Several education bills, some of which TCTA opposed, have passed both the House and Senate. Some will move on for Gov. Abbott's consideration, while others will go to a conference committee for negotiations between the House and Senate.

HB 1605 is headed to the governor’s desk, after the House on Wednesday accepted the Senate’s amendments to the bill. The bill would incentivize districts to use “high-quality instructional materials” that include pre-written lesson plans, raising concerns about whether districts would implement the use of such materials in a way that would allow teachers to customize the lesson plans to meet their students’ needs.

As it passed the House, the bill had been amended to include some important protections regarding transparency (ensuring that state procurement practices are followed), teacher immunity regarding instructional practices, and parent/teacher input in the review and consideration of the materials. However, those protections were removed in the Senate. Despite that, the House agreed to the Senate changes, so the bill now goes to Gov. Abbott.

A bill that TCTA opposed, SB 798 providing that the certification criteria for counselors can no longer require teaching experience, also passed the House this week and will move forward for the governor’s consideration. Another counselor bill, SB 763, which will allow districts to hire chaplains to perform services (the Senate version would allow counselors to perform the duties of school counselors), will go to a conference committee for House/Senate negotiations.

The Senate passed a House bill that TCTA also objected to — HB 63 will eliminate anonymous reports of child abuse or neglect, raising concerns that this would have a chilling effect on reporting.It now goes to the governor.

Yet another bill opposed by TCTA and other groups, HB 2729, passed the Senate. It lowers standards for teachers in high-quality pre-K programs with which a public school contracts for pre-K services. For example, unlike a public school pre-K teacher, a teacher employed by such an entity would not have to be certified or have a college degree.