Thursday’s Senate Education Committee hearing included discussion of HB 28 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, which TCTA opposed. The bill would eliminate the SBOE’s ability to veto charter school applications, so that the commissioner of education would have the sole authority over approving new charter schools.
Other bills included:
- HB 226 by Sen. Angela Paxton would include instruction on virtual education in teacher preparation. Some senators pushed back, saying that in-person instruction is preferable and they did not want to further encourage virtual learning. Chair Larry Taylor noted that virtual instruction could be valuable in certain circumstances, including educating students who are not in the classroom due to discipline issues (a concept that TCTA has promoted in previous sessions).
- SB 1365 by Bettencourt would strengthen the commissioner’s ability to take over a low-performing school district, primarily in response to ongoing issues in Houston ISD. The bill was removed from the agenda due to a printing error, but the committee took testimony from witnesses attending the hearing.
- SB 481 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst allows a student in a district providing only virtual instruction for more than one grading period to transfer to another district that offers in‐person instruction.
- SB 203 by Sen. Charles Schwertner requires UIL to select competition locations for statewide championships through a process that includes an RFP from higher education institutions and others seeking to host.
- SB 1171 by Sen. Larry Taylor extends a bill passed last session regarding the electronic administration of assessments; it includes a grant program to help districts with the transition to electronic administration.
The committee voted out a handful of bills:
- SB 179 by Sen. Eddie Lucio would limit the time that counselors could be required to spend on outside of their counseling responsibilities (such as administering assessments).
- SB 204 by Sen. Schwertner provides that district and county school boards can operate a school transportation system outside the district/county for students served by the system who reside outside the district/county.
- SB 338 by Sen. Beverly Powell addresses district building construction contracts.
- SB 442 by Sen. Bryan Hughes requires school boards to adopt a policy establishing a process for adopting curriculum or curriculum materials for the district's human sexuality instruction.