The House Public Education Committee held its first hearing Tuesday and took testimony on six bills:
HB 434 by Rep. Keith Bell would add one career/technology education (CTE) credit as an alternative to a fine arts credit in the graduation requirements. The arts education community is opposed to this bill and lit up legislators’ phone lines and social media pages with their objections. The concern is that arts education is already on shaky ground in some districts, and given the increase in support for CTE over the years – including additional funding – some districts might choose to eliminate some or all of their arts education if the credit is made optional.
HB 547 by Rep. James Frank would allow homeschool students to participate in UIL activities. Several witnesses appeared, both in support of and opposition to the bill. Among the objections was a concern that including a reference to home schooling in statute could lead to additional regulations in the future.
HB 690 by Rep. Will Metcalf would require school board trustees to complete training on school safety. Similar legislation passed the House last session but never made it through the Senate. The Texas Association of School Boards opposed the bill, noting that other elected officials in Texas are not required to undergo additional, ongoing training throughout their terms in office, and that school board members in Texas have more training requirements than those in any other state.
HB 699 by Rep. Jon Rosenthal provides that absences resulting from a life-threatening illness or related treatment are excused absences and a student cannot be denied grade level promotion if the student failed to meet requirements due to the illness. A student with a chronic disease testified in support, explaining that although he had been able to complete his work, he had too many excused absences and did not meet the 90% attendance requirement.
HB 773 by Rep. Gary VanDeaver would include information regarding students successfully completing a program of study in career and technology in the student achievement indicators of the accountability system. This legislation had passed the House, but not the Senate, last session.
HB 1147 by Rep. Dan Huberty would add enlistment in the Texas National Guard as an indication of military readiness for purposes of the accountability system.
As has been its custom during the past several sessions, the committee did not take any votes; bills will be brought up at a future meeting for consideration.