Several bills of interest to educators have passed in recent days, including these:
- SB 1267 (Sen. Royce West/Rep. JM Lozano) is a major teacher training bill representing a great deal of effort on the part of legislators and stakeholders, including TCTA, prior to the legislative session. TCTA served as a subgroup lead during the interim process, helping to develop recommendations to streamline training and professional development requirements and eliminate unnecessary and duplicative provisions in law. These changes should help teachers have a greater ability to self-select relevant professional development. After a few stumbling blocks, it passed the House on a final vote Tuesday and will return to the Senate for consideration of some changes made in the House.
- SB 179 (Sen. Eddie Lucio/Rep. Dan Huberty) requires districts (with some exceptions) to adopt a policy that requires counselors to spend at least 80% of their work time on duties that are considered components of a counseling program – which does not include time spent administering student assessments. The bill has passed both houses and is headed to the governor’s desk.
- SB 776 (Sen. Eddie Lucio/Rep. Alec Dominguez) requires the UIL to ensure that students with intellectual disabilities have an opportunity to participate in athletic activities by establishing an inclusive sports program. SB 776 is headed to the governor.
- SB 1444 (Sen. Larry Taylor/Rep. Greg Bonnen) allows districts to withdraw from TRS-ActiveCare, provided that they remain out for at least five years; a district deciding to enter or re-enter ActiveCare must remain in the plan for at least five years. It also closes the DOI loophole that threatened to cause larger premium increases for ActiveCare participants. (Click here for background information.) The bill will move next to the governor’s desk.
- SB 481 (Sen. Lois Kolkhorst/Rep. Mike Schofield) will allow parents to transfer their student to another district if their home district announces that it intends to provide only virtual instruction for more than one grading period during the year, and if the requested district accepts the transfer. It has been sent to the governor.
- SB 1697 (Sen. Angela Paxton/Rep. Ken King) allows parents to choose to have their child repeat a grade or a course. Specifically, a student in preK through grade 8 could repeat the grade; a student in high school could repeat a course, unless the school determined that the student had already met the requirements for graduation. A district disagreeing with the parent’s choice would convene a retention committee to discuss the issue with the parent, but ultimately the parent’s final choice would be honored. This new option would only be allowed next year for students in grades 4-8. SB 1697 will head to the governor next.
- SB 1356 (Sen. Bryan Hughes/Rep. Harold Dutton) would allow active or retired teachers who belong to a participating nonprofit teacher organization to join a tutoring program (for compensation or as a volunteer) on an individualized or small-group basis. This bill will go to a conference committee to work out House/Senate differences.