Category Archives: Uncategorized

Texas House approves SB 7 misconduct bill

On Tuesday, the Texas House passed Senate Bill (SB) 7, the educator misconduct bill passed by the Senate last month. Several amendments were attached to the bill Monday on the House floor, including one that would withhold the pensions of school employees convicted of certain sexual offenses, including inappropriate relationship between an educator and student.

State Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) attached two amendments. One added parental notification requirements laid out in HB 218, which was heard in March by the House Public Education Subcommittee on Educator Quality. The other required public school employees to disclose any criminal misconduct charges or convictions on a pre-employment affidavit based on HB 1799.

State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) added an amendment to strip the pensions of public school employees convicted of felony sexual offenses. State Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) amended the amendment by ensuring the full pension amount would be able to go to an innocent spouse instead.

The House approved SB 7 on second reading Monday, then again on third reading and final passage Tuesday by a vote of 146-0. The bill will now be returned to the Senate as amended, and the Senate will have the option to either concur with the House amendments or appoint members to a conference committee.

House Public Education revives bill regulating DOIs

The House Public Education Committee called an impromptu meeting Friday afternoon to vote on a pending bill and reconsider the vote on a bill that failed on Thursday.

House Public Education Committee meeting Friday, May 5, 2017.

House Public Education Committee meeting Friday, May 5, 2017.

The committee revived HB 3635 by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), which failed on a 5-4 vote Thursday. The bill was passed upon reconsideration Friday by a vote of 7-2. HB 3635 would require the commissioner to establish objective eligibility and performance standards, including academic and financial performance, for districts pursuing DOI status. Would require DOI plans to include performance objectives and allow the commissioner to terminate a DOI after a single unacceptable performance rating. Vice-chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) and state Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) voted against the bill.

The committee unanimously passed HB 4111 by state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), which would allow an open-enrollment charter school that has been rated lower than satisfactory solely due to a data error reported by the charter to PEIMS to have its rating corrected.

The committee is expected to next meet Tuesday morning to discuss five Senate bills.

House Public Education Committee passes final House bills

The House Public Education Committee met during a break in floor activity Thursday afternoon to vote on the final set of House bills before Monday’s committee referral deadline. The committee approved the following:

Texas House of Representatives stands adjourned as committees meet, May 4, 2017.

Texas House of Representatives stands adjourned as committees meet, May 4, 2017.

  • HB 588, which would establish a grant program for promoting computer science certification and professional development for teachers.
  • CSHB 1023, which would allow the TEA commissioner to grant more than one charter for an open-enrollment charter school to a charter holder if the additional charter is for an open-enrollment charter school that serves a distinct purpose or student population. The bill passed 7-3, with state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and state Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) voting against.
  • HB 1585, which would require a district include student input in the local instructional plan process.
  • HB 1651, which would replace the current classroom supply reimbursement program, which is subject to appropriation and not guaranteed, with a blanket $200 reimbursement per teacher per school year.
  • HB 2010, which would require the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to make information available regarding workplace safety training that may be included as part of a district’s curriculum for grades 7 through 12.
  • HB 2014, which would allow the TEA commissioner to designate a campus as a “mathematics innovation zone.”
  • HB 2093, which would order TEA conduct a study and issue a report to determine the most appropriate method for including the performance of gifted and talented students in determined school accountability.
  • HB 2519, which would order a study on dropout prevention and recovery for students who drop out before entering the ninth grade.
  • HB 2537, which would require a school counselor to inform a parent or guardian of the availability of education and training vouchers and tuition and fee waivers to attend an institution of higher education for a student who is or was in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
  • HB 2775, which would allow non-classroom teacher certification observations to be held on the candidate site or through video technology. The bill passed on a vote of 10-1.
  • HB 3244, which would allow a district to provide a salary bonus “or similar compensation” to a teacher who completes autism training through a regional education service center.
  • CSHB 3347, which would allow districts to establish before-school or after-school programs, but prohibit them from using state or local funds appropriated to the district for educational purposes to support such a program.
  • HB 3632, which would extend the timeframe for requesting a special education due process hearing for the child of a service member.
  • HB 3767, which would require a local school board to annually certify with TEA that the local board has established the required district- and campus-level committees.
  • HB 3800, which would specify that an open-enrollment charter school is a political subdivision for the purposes of Chapter 617, Government Code, which prohibits strikes and collective bargaining by public employees. The bill passed on a vote of 9-2, with Vice-Chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) and Rep. Gooden voting against.
  • CSHB 4140, which would rename the instructional materials allotment (IMA) the “instructional materials and technology allotment” and require districts to consider “open education resources” before purchasing instructional materials. The bill passed on a vote of 8-3, with Rep. Gooden, state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) and state Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) voting against.
  • HB 4151, which would transfer responsibility for reporting bacterial meningitis information from TEA to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
  • CSSB 826, which would loosen sequencing for advanced English and mathematics courses.
  • SB 160 (HB 713), which would end the de facto “cap” on special education enrollment unveiled by the Houston Chronicle.
  • SB 579 (HB 1583), which would extend epinephrine auto-injector regulations, privileges, grant eligibility and immunity from liability to private schools.
  • SB 671 (HB 1451), which would require SBOE adopt criteria to allow a student to earn one of the two foreign language credits required for high school graduation by successfully completing a dual language immersion program at an elementary school.
  • SB 1480 (HB 467), which would adjust the language regarding the capacity available to charter holders under the bond guarantee program to back bonds with the Permanent School Fund (PSF).

The committee failed to pass CSHB 3635, which would require the commissioner to establish objective eligibility and performance standards, including academic and financial performance, for districts pursuing DOI status. Vice-Chair Bernal, Rep. King, Rep. Gooden and Rep. Dutton voted against the bill, which failed in a 5-4 vote.

The committee will next meet Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. to hear Senate bills.

House Public Education approves dozen more bills

The House Public Education Committee advanced another series of bills in a formal meeting Wednesday evening. The following bills were approved unanimously:

House Public Education Committee votes on bills, May 3, 2017.

House Public Education Committee votes on bills, May 3, 2017.

  • CSHB 194, which would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to create a special education endorsement.
  • HB 1042, which would expand a parent’s right to request their student be allowed to take home instructional materials.
  • HB 1553, which would allow a district that fails to meet standard to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an institution of higher education in order to help improve the district’s performance.
  • CSHB 1847, which would require a school to notify parents if there is not a full-time nurse on the campus.
  • CSHB 2806, which would require school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to report to PEIMS the number and percentage of students enrolled in voluntary after-school and summer programs, along with the number of campuses that offer such programs.
  • CSHB 2884, which would expand the requirement for daily physical activity in elementary school from four semesters to six.
  • CSHB 3044, which would allow a candidate for teacher certification to obtain credit for the required 15 hours of field-based experience by simply observing a certified teacher or by serving as a substitute teacher up to two years prior to or subsequent to admission in an educator preparation program.
  • CSHB 3231, which would exempt charters operated by a public senior college or university from being assigned a financial accountability rating under Section 39.082(e).
  • HB 3251, which would remove language from statute that makes the adjustment for rapid decline in taxable value of property in a school district subject to appropriation.
  • CSHB 3434, which would require TEA adopt uniform general conditions adopted by the Texas Facilities Commission for use in all building construction contracts made by school districts.
  • CSHB 3437, which would order the TEA to develop a special education recovery program for the benefit of students negatively affected by the special ed “cap.”
  • HB 3573, which would remove the exemption from municipal zoning ordinances governing public schools for charters in small municipalities from charters adjacent to a large municipality.
  • HB 3684, which would add instruction to prevent the use of e-cigarettes to the tobacco prevention section of the duties of the local school health advisory committee.
  • CSHB 4027, which would add additional guidelines to the transition plan for special education students preparing to leave the public school system.

Members are expected to meet again Thursday in order to vote on remaining legislation left pending before the committee.

Public Education Committee winds down House bills

The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday morning for another long day of testimony. Monday, May 8, is the last day House committees are allowed to report House bills, which makes this the last week in which House committees may take testimony on House bills.

After a break for the daily House session, the committee voted out the following bills Tuesday evening:

  • HB 867, which would expand school marshals to private schools.
  • HB 1180, which would prohibit a school district from scheduling the last day of school after the Friday before Memorial Day and would extend the grandfather clause for year-round schools to those operating year-round during the 2016-2017 school year.
  • HB 1692, which would allow a licensed handgun owner to store a firearm in a vehicle parked in the parking lot of a public school, open-enrollment charter school or private school. Vice-chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) and state Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) voted against the bill.
  • CSHB 1516, which would allow a school district to excuse a student on final exam day if they’re exempt from the final without the district losing ADA funding.
  • HB 1759, which would allow a school district and county to enter into a contract for the district to contribute resources to pay for an instructional facilities or stadium owned by, on the property of or under the control of the county.
  • CSHB 2159, which would allow at least a two week grace period for students whose meal card expires and extend credit in order for them to be able to continue to purchase meals.
  • CSHB 3209, which would require TEA to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the regional day school programs for the deaf regarding performance evaluation requirements for accountability purposes.
  • HB 3861, which would allow a failing campus to operate as a community school as a campus turnaround plan.
  • HB 3270, which would waive background check requirements for certain construction subcontractors working under specific conditions that render student contact unlikely.

Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston) informed members the committee will likely meet Wednesday for a formal meeting to consider additional items of pending legislation.

House Public Education Committee meeting May 2, 2017

House Public Education Committee meeting May 2, 2017

The hearing began with HB 3813 by state Rep. Mando Martinez (D-Weslaco), which would create a pilot program to enable at least 14 high schools in counties along the Gulf coast or the border to get fiber-optic connections. The program would be subject to funds appropriated specifically for the purpose. According to the fiscal note, HB 3813 would cost roughly $12.2 million through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.

HB 4087 by state Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R-Galveston) would provide a 25 percent discount to districts that purchase attendance credits under Section 41.093 in order to reduce the district’s wealth per student to the equalized wealth level. Funds saved through this discount would be required to go toward a district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) costs. According to the fiscal note, HB 4087 would cost $1.15 billion over the next biennium.

HB 2519 by state Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Denton) would order a study on dropout prevention and recovery for students who drop out before entering the ninth grade. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 1553 by state Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) would allow a district that fails to meet standard to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an institution of higher education in order to help improve the district’s performance. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3573 by Vice-chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would remove the exemption from municipal zoning ordinances governing public schools for charters in small municipalities from charters adjacent to a large municipality. Contains a grandfather clause for those operating or planning as of September 1, 2017.

HB 3014 by state Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) would require open-enrollment charter schools to prioritize students that live within each school’s attendance zone. Rep. Collier introduced a committee substitute that includes considerations for certain schools serving a specific population, such as disabled students. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 4151 by state Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls) would transfer responsibility for reporting bacterial meningitis information from TEA to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

SB 826 by Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would loosen sequencing for advanced English and mathematics courses. Under the bill, such courses could be taken before or concurrently with English I, English II and English III, and Algebra I and Geometry, respectively.

ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified neutrally on SB 826, suggesting the bill strays far afield of graduation requirements established by the 83rd Texas Legislature under HB 5. While allowing English III to be taken concurrently with advanced English courses would help address an issue making it more difficult for some late-term transfers from out of state to graduate, it is inappropriate to allow advanced English and math courses to be taken before foundation courses are completed.

HB 2537 by state Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission) would require a school counselor to inform a parent or guardian of the availability of education and training vouchers and tuition and fee waivers to attend an institution of higher education for a student who is or was in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

HB 3767 by state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require a local school board to annually certify with TEA that the local board has established the required district- and campus-level committees. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 4111 by Rep. Allen would allow an open-enrollment charter school that has been rated lower than satisfactory solely due to a data error reported by the charter to PEIMS to have its rating corrected. Rep. Allen introduced a committee substitute that narrows the bill to one specific school.

HB 2010 by state Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) would require the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to make information available regarding workplace safety training that may be included as part of a district’s curriculum for grades 7 through 12.

HB 588 by state Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) would establish a grant program for promoting computer science certification and professional development for teachers. According to the fiscal note, HB 588 would cost approximately $105,000 per year. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3231 by Rep. Bohac would exempt charters operated by a public senior college or university from being assigned a financial accountability rating under Section 39.082(e). Rep. Bohac explained that public senior colleges and universities are already covered by their own financial accountability requirements, and requiring separate criteria for charters operated under their umbrella is duplicative.

HB 4170 by state Rep. Scott Cosper (R-Killeen) would expand eligibility the virtual school network to include kindergarten courses. The fiscal note estimates HB 4170 would cost $4.9 million over the next biennium.

ATPE submitted testimony against HB 4170, pointing out that the overwhelming evidence shows full-time virtual schools perform significantly worse than traditional classrooms. At the same time, research continues to show the importance of early education as the foundation upon which all subsequent learning is built. Subjecting a child to a substandard instructional environment during their most formative period could do lasting damage to their educational prospects.

HB 1847 by state Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) would require a school to notify parents if there is not a full-time nurse on the campus. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3853 by Rep. Coleman would require Chapter 42 districts to assign a behavior health professional to each campus or at least provide access to one. According to the fiscal note, HB 3853 would cost the state roughly $104 million through the next biennium. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3632 by state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) would extend the timeframe for requesting a special education due process hearing for the child of a service member.

HB 2872 by state Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne) would allow a minor to be arrested if they commit a Class C misdemeanor if they are in a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP). Would also allow an officer to issue a citation to a child in a DAEP.

HB 1485 by state Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) and school administrators to “endeavor to create an environment” that encourages critical questioning of scientific subjects. Testifying in favor of the bill, SBOE Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence) said some teachers fear it is against the law to discuss creationism. TEA staff testified that the bill would not permit anything that is not already permissible. Rep. Swanson suggested statewide “athiest leaders” opposed the bill.

HB 4140 by Rep. Bohac would rename the instructional materials allotment (IMA) the “instructional materials and technology allotment” and require districts to consider “open education resources” before purchasing instructional materials. It would also order the creation of a peer-review process for districts to certify a district technology plan. According to the fiscal note, peer review could cost each district between $10,000 and $30,000 every five years.

Late night House hearing tackles Tebow bill, vouchers

The House Public Education Committee met Thursday morning just hours after the House wrapped up a marathon floor session on immigration legislation. Members heard a handful of bills just hours after debate from the previous day wrapped up on the House floor, then broke for another long day of floor activity. After the committee resumed its meeting Thursday evening, members voted out the following items of pending legislation:

  • HB 145, which would require any district with a student enrollment that includes more than 1,000 African-American males to use only the academic achievement differentials among African-American males for accountability purposes under the first domain of “A through F.”
  • CSHB 306, the anti-cyberbullying bill. A committee to the bill substitute removed language relating to bullying “causing a student to suffer substantial negative mental health affects.” The substitute also removed language that would have prohibited bullying outside of school related activities. The new version loosened time restraints on reporting, removed the protection for anonymous reporting and removed mandatory reporting to law enforcement. It added a mental health training provision, removed the liability cause of action for parental responsibility, removed the newly-created crime of cyberbullying and added cyberbullying to harassment penal code. The substitute removed all of the felony language and added a severability clause.
  • CSHB 674, which was heard Thursday morning.
  • CSHB 811, which would extend ASATR through 2021 at an estimated cost of $402 million over the next two years. A committee substitute moved the expiration of ASATR to September 2019 for most districts.
  • HB 884, which would order the State Board of Education (SBOE) to review and revise the foundation curriculum Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to be narrower and require less time than the TEKS adopted as of January 1, 2017.
  • CSHB 1152, which would require a successful voter referendum before a board of trustees is allowed to change the name of a school district. State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) voted against the bill, and Vice-chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) voted present.
  • HB 1799, which would create a registry for teachers who have been involved in inappropriate relationships with students or those who have been deemed ineligible to teach as a result of their criminal history.
  • CSHB 2209, which would incorporate “universal design for learning” into the required training for all classroom teachers. It would require additional continuing education and require SBEC to add training in disabilities to the requirements for educator preparation programs (EPPs).
  • CSHB 2395, which would order each district and charter to test their water for lead using a third-party testing service.
  • HB 2782, which would prohibit the Texas Education Agency (TEA) commissioner from implementing an accountability system designed to produce A-F results along a bell curve, and would require implementation in a manner that provides the mathematical possibility that all districts and campuses receive an “A” rating.
  • HB 2790, which would allow an independent apprenticeship committee to conduct an apprentice program and receive funding.
  • CSHB 3349, which would allow for abbreviated certification for CTE.
  • CSHB 3526, which would rename the instructional materials allotment to the technology and instructional materials allotment. A committee substitute removed the study requirement.
  • CSHB 3606, which would order the TEA to conduct a survey regarding the number of physical education classes, ratio of students enrolled in PE, average PE class size, etc.
  • CSHB 3887, which would add physical and emotional trauma training to the mental health training requirements for school staff.
ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testifying before the House Public Education Committee, April 27, 2017.

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testifying before the House Public Education Committee, April 27, 2017.

Thursday’s hearing stretched into the early morning hours, finally wrapping up just after 3:00 a.m. Friday. The day’s hearing began Thursday morning with HB 674 by state Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas), which would prohibit a student under six from being placed in out-of-school suspension unless he commits a violent or drug-related offense.

HB 2159 by state Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) would allow at least a two week grace period for students whose meal card expires and extend credit in order for them to be able to continue to purchase meals. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2093 by state Rep. Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land) would order TEA conduct a study and issue a report to determine the most appropriate method for including the performance of gifted and talented students in determined school accountability.

HB 3684 by state Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) would add instruction to prevent the use of e-cigarettes to the tobacco prevention section of the duties of the local school health advisory committee.

HB 1759 by state Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would allow a school district and county to enter into a contract for the district to contribute resources to pay for an instructional facilities or stadium owned by, on the property of or under the control of the county. Rep. Smithee explained it would allow his local school district to utilize a former minor league baseball facility.

HB 3861 by state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) would allow a failing campus to operate as a community school as a campus turnaround plan. The bill would require a school partner with a lead organization that has experience implementing a community school plan and would require approval of at least 75 percent of campus faculty and staff, as well as 75 percent of parents. It would prohibit the TEA commissioner from closing a campus without first giving them the opportunity to operate as a community school, essentially establishing the model as a backstop.

HB 3437 by state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) would order the TEA to develop a special education recovery program for the benefit of students negatively affected by the special ed “cap.” The bill would order the agency to identify students who were denied special education services and offer reevaluation. It would determine the districts required to participate by identifying those whose special education enrollment declined by 75 percent or 200 students from the 2004-2005 school year to the 2016-2017 school year. Rep. Moody introduced a committee substitute that would focus on parental notification that the cap is no longer in effect, while allowing for the incorporation of forthcoming guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

HB 1692 by state Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) would allow a licensed handgun owner to store a firearm in a vehicle parked in the parking lot of a public school, open-enrollment charter school or private school.

HB 1516 by state Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) would allow a school district to excuse a student on final exam day if they’re exempt from the final without the district losing ADA funding.

HB 3472 by state Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) would exempt those teaching applied STEM or noncore mathematics courses from the requirement to hold a bachelor’s degree and obtain permission from the TEA commissioner in order to obtain a school district teaching permit.

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testified against HB 3472, pointing out that school districts are already allowed to designate uncertified subject matter experts as teachers through the district permit process, which can be renewed. Exter noted that it is educationally inappropriate for an individual without a college degree to be teaching a mathematics course.

HB 2329 by state Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) would prohibit the Dallas County school district from assessing a countywide equalization tax. Burkett explained her bill deals with concerns over the management of Dallas County Schools, which provides transportation services to several districts in the Dallas area.

HB 867 by state Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) would expand the school marshal program to private schools.

HB 930 by state Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) would allow a board of trustees of an independent school district to enact or lift term limits.

HB 3244 by state Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) would allow a district to provide a salary bonus “or similar compensation” to a teacher who completes autism training through a regional education service center. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 1261 by state Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) would ban charter schools from discriminating based generally on discipline history.

ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified in support of HB 1261, pointing out that discriminatory admissions policies are not product envisioned in the original idea that charter schools operate as laboratories of innovation. If charters are to be deemed successful, they should be deemed so by proving they are capable of successfully educating the same mix of students as traditional schools.

HB 3270 by state Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) would waive background check requirements for certain construction subcontractors working under specific conditions that render student contact unlikely.

HB 1687 by Rep. Bohac would require each district to develop a written agreement between the student, teacher and parents for every grade level that outlines the responsibilities of each. Parents and teachers would be required to sign, and the district would be responsible for determining enforcement of signatures and provisions.

HB 1577 by state Rep. J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) would prohibit UIL from assigning a school to a district for competition purposes that would require the school to travel more than 100 miles to compete, unless placement in an appropriate conference based on the school’s enrollment is unavailable and the school declines placement in a district in a conference for schools with higher enrollment.

HB 4027 by state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would add additional guidelines to the transition plan for special education students preparing to leave the public school system. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2730 by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) would allow the TEA commissioner to create additional CTE credentials or certificates. The bill would order the commissioner to conduct a study to identify unmet needs and create a credential or certification for information technology in accordance with the results of the study. According to the fiscal note, HB 2730 could cost $535,000 over the biennium ending August 31, 2019. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 1335 by state Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) would create a voucher in the style of an “education savings account” (ESA) for certain children with special needs and other educational disadvantages. According to the fiscal note, HB 1335 would cost the state as much as $212 million over the next biennium. Under extensive questioning by committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Rep. Simmons acknowledged that an ESA voucher would likely not cover the full cost for a school that specializes in special education. TEA staff pointed out districts are already required to contract with private programs for the full cost of special education services in the event that the district does not provide those services itself. Such a contract could cost $76,000 per year for a single student for whom the district generates roughly $10,000 in per-pupil funding.

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testified against HB 1335, pointing out that the bill is open to students that have not been in the public school system, which would dramatically increase the fiscal note. Exter also noted that the bill does not specify who will determine whether children should be enrolled in a special education program. Exter suggested that concerns about a special education voucher being a toehold for a full voucher program could be allayed if lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment to limit any voucher program to special education. Such an amendment would require a legislative supermajority to reverse.

HB 4193 by Rep. Simmons would set up a bank account and debit card for qualifying special education students to receive money for educational services and therapies. The program could be funded through special education grants under Chapter 29. The bill would establish the financial framework for a special ed ESA. According to the fiscal note, the true fiscal impact of HB 4193 cannot be determined due to the uncertainty of the grant program, but costs to the state could be quite substantial. ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testified neutrally on HB 4193, raising concern over the way the language mirrors an ESA.

HB 1323 by state Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), referred to by some supporters as the “Tim Tebow bill,” would allow home-schooled students to participate in University Interscholastic League (UIL) sponsored activities. This would create an uneven playing field that would leave public school students at a significant competitive disadvantage.

ATPE submitted written testimony against HB 1323, pointing out that home-schooled students would not be subjected to the same requirements as students enrolled in the public school system. Home-schooled students would not be required to meet the same attendance requirements, and giving parents responsibility for their children’s academic eligibility is problematic.

HB 356 by Chairman Huberty would allow a school board member or administrator who is licensed to carry a handgun to lawfully carry a handgun to a school board meeting.

HB 3800 by state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) would state that an open-enrollment charter school is not a political subdivision or local governmental entity unless a provision in Chapter 12 states that a specific statute applies to an open-enrollment charter school. The bill would specify that an open-enrollment charter school is a political subdivision for the purposes of Chapter 617, Government Code, which prohibits strikes and collective bargaining by public employees.

HB 3716 by state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) would remove the prohibition on including student information in the results of individual student performance on the physical fitness assessment.

House Public Education hears pre-K, testing bills

The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday morning to begin another busy week of hearing House bills. During a break in testimony, the committee approved the following bills:

  • CSHB 2683, which would exempt school buses from paying a toll for the use of a toll project.
  • CSHB 2616, which would make it more difficult to suspend a student in a grade level below grade four, as well as create positive behavior and early detection and prevention programs for students experiencing disciplinary problems.
  • HB 545, which would require principals to allow “patriotic societies” such as Boy Scouts to speak to students about membership at the beginning of the school year.
  • HB 69, which would require each school district and open-enrollment charter school to include in the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) report the number of children with disabilities residing in a residential facility who are required to be tracked by the Residential Facility Monitoring (RFM) System and are receiving educational services from the district or school.
  • HB 1650, which would allow a student who passes a dual credit course on U.S. history to skip the U.S. history end-of-course exam.
  • CSHB 4064, which would add a digital education requirement to the qualifications for teacher certification and add a continuing education credit for instruction in digital technology. The bill would also include digital learning in the requirements for staff development. The substitute includes a number of requirement, such as that teacher candidates be instructed in digital literacy.
  • HB 895, which would allow for the expansion of full-time virtual school programs by requiring districts pay the cost of full-time virtual schools that were set up after January 1, 2013. The bill passed by a vote of seven to four, with Vice-Chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) voting against.
  • HB 3439, which would allow school districts to contract with a charter to operate a district campus and share teachers, facilities or resources. Such schools would be entitled to the greater of the funding per weighted average daily attendance (WADA) entitled to the district or the charter.
House Public Education Committee meeting April 25, 2017.

House Public Education Committee meeting April 25, 2017.

The meeting began with HB 3526 by state Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), which would rename the instructional materials allotment to the technology and instructional materials allotment. Rep. Howard explained the change would reflect the reality that the fund is being increasingly utilized to fund technology expenses. Rep. Howard introduced a committee substitute that would include a study on the effectiveness, value and best use of electronic instructional materials, considering a variety of demographics. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2997 by state Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall) would refine the “A through F” accountability system, keeping the current five domains for high school and compressing junior high and middle schools to four.

HB 2790 by state Rep. James White (R-Hillister) would allow an independent apprenticeship committee to conduct an apprentice program and receive funding. Texas Workforce Commission staff testified the bill would be unlikely to negatively impact the agency’s budget.

HB 3384 by state Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) would require a district provide information requested by a trustee within ten days of the request. It would allow a member to bring suit against a district that does not comply and recover court costs and attorney’s fees, to be paid from the budget of the district superintendent’s office. Citing concerns with the bill, Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston) suggested bracketing it to a single district could make it more likely to advance from the committee.

HB 2782 by state Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls) would prohibit the Texas Education Agency (TEA) commissioner from implementing an accountability system designed to produce A-F results along a bell curve, and would require implementation in a manner that provides the mathematical possibility that all districts and campuses receive an “A” rating. Rep. Wilson explained the bill would put current TEA policy into statute. ATPE supports this bill.

SB 22 by Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would replace the current tech-prep program with a Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program. State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), the bill’s House sponsor, explained the bill would help address the skilled labor gap. Rep. Lucio stated SB 22 would rectify shortcomings in the current program and address regional workforce needs as well as credit transfer policies. According the fiscal note, SB 22 would cost the state roughly $5 billion over the next biennium. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 1865 by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) would remove school calendar start and end date from the list of eligible DOI exemptions. It would also move the start date to the Tuesday after Labor Day and end date to between May 15 and the Friday before Memorial Day. Rep. Krause presented a committee substitute that would confine the bill to solely removing school start date from the list of DOI exemptions.

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testified neutrally on the bill, pointing out that charter schools currently have a competitive advantage over public schools in their ability to set their own start dates without going through a waiver process such as DOI. Exter suggested both systems should be encouraged to adopt policies that best serve their students, including with regard to a uniform start date. Exter further suggested that if lawmakers determine summer flexibility is important, it should be extended to public schools as well.

HB 2806 by state Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would require school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to report to PEIMS the number and percentage of students enrolled in voluntary after-school and summer programs, along with the number of campuses that offer such programs.

HB 4085 by state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would create an additional exemption from SBOE approval for special programs if the district partners with a local economic development corporation and local businesses to develop and provide the course.

HB 3635 by Rep. Krause would require the commissioner to establish objective eligibility and performance standards, including academic and financial performance, for districts pursuing DOI status. Would require DOI plans to include performance objectives and allow the commissioner to terminate a DOI after a single unacceptable performance rating. According to the fiscal note, HB 3635 would require TEA hire two additional full-time equivalent staff, costing the state an estimated $217,000 per year.

ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified in support of the bill, pointing out that many of the provisions eligible for exemption under the DOI model were specifically put in place in order to safeguard students’ classroom environment. If districts are allowed to waive class size ratios, teacher certification and parental notification requirements, they should be able to justify why those exemptions are needed and show if they meet performance objectives.

HB 1042 by state Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would expand a parent’s right to request their student be allowed to take home instructional materials. It would require a school district or open-enrollment charter to provide instructional materials to a student in printed book format if the student does not have reliable access to technology at home. Districts or charters would also be required to document and report all denials of such requests, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) would be required to submit an annual report to the legislature.

HB 633 by state Rep. Mary González (D-El Paso) would remove student discipline under Subchapter A, Chapter 37, from the list of eligible exemptions available to districts of innovation (DOIs). According to TEA, more than 70 DOIs have exempted themselves from provisions under Chapter ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2247 by state Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) would grant a right to a relative caregiver to enroll a child who lives with them in school if the child’s parent or legal guardian could not be reached for authorization. The bill also outlines an affidavit the relative would be required to sign.

HB 3759 by state Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) would exempt districts from a number of hand-picked sections of the Education Code and Health and Safety Code, alleging that they amount to unfunded mandates. Chairman Huberty voiced serious concerns about exempting districts from provisions of the Education Code meant to protect special education students. ATPE opposes this bill.

HB 2047 by state Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) lays out a mechanism through which adjoining school districts could agree to change a boundary.

HB 1180 by state Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) would prohibit a school district from scheduling the last day of school after the Friday before Memorial Day and would extend the grandfather clause for year-round schools to those operating year-round during the 2016-2017 school year. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 1857 by Educator Quality Subcommittee Chair Ken King (R-Canadian) would require instructional materials approved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) be suitable for the subject and grade level for which the instructional material was submitted. Current statute only specifies that instructional material be free from factual errors, so this bill would give SBOE an additional tool for vetting textbooks. SBOE member Tom Maynard (R-Florence) testified in support of the measure.

HB 2255 by Chairman King would open up high-quality prekindergarten to any child three years of age or older, and give districts the option of offering full-day or half-day pre-K. Districts that operate full-day pre-K would be allowed to include full days of attendance for calculating ADA. Would also increase requirements on private entities contracted to provide pre-K services. According to the fiscal note, HB 2255 would cost roughly $4.5 billion over the biennium.

ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified in support of HB 2255, pointing out numerous studies that show prekindergarten offers substantial benefits to students. The 2005 HighScope Perry study found adults who attended pre-K as a child earned more money, were more likely to hold a job, committed fewer crimes and were more likely to have graduated high school. Pre-K saves taxpayer money on K-12 education, child welfare and the criminal justice system. In evaluating pre-K programs, ATPE looks at universality, half-day and full-day options, and high quality. Wiggins suggested King’s bill moves forward in all three areas.

HB 880 by Chairman King (R-Canadian) would allow a school district to assign a teacher certified for English as a Second Language (ESL) to a bilingual education program for one school year if the commissioner has determined that there is a shortage of teachers certified for bilingual education for the school year and one is not reasonably available to the district.

HB 1333 by state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) would reduce the standardized tests required of public school students. The bill calls for delinking teacher evaluations from student test scores, but it would also require Texas to seek a waiver of federal laws that require several tests currently administered to students starting in grade three and moving through the high school grades. The fiscal note estimates HB 1333 would save the state $1.8 million through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.

ATPE lobbyist Monty Exter testified neutrally on HB 1333, registering strong support for three major components of the bill. Testing should be taken down to the federal minimum, should be a smaller percentage of overall accountability system, and should be removed from teacher evaluations. Exter highlighted a data comparability concern stemming from the idea of allowing districts to utilize various different tests across the state, since doing so would lost the potentially beneficial data gathered through a single test.

HB 1651 by state Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) would replace the current classroom supply reimbursement program, which is subject to appropriation and not guaranteed, with a blanket $200 reimbursement per teacher per school year. The fiscal note anticipates districts would see a combined cost of $69.4 million each year if all 347,000 teachers receive the full $200 reimbursement. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3347 by Chairman Huberty would allow districts to establish before-school or after-school programs, but prohibit them from using state or local funds appropriated to the district for educational purposes to support such a program. Districts would be allowed to contract with a licensed child-care facility.

House Public Education Committee approves mentor bill

The House Public Education Committee met following Monday’s floor session to vote out a handful of bills. The committee approved the following bills unanimously:

  • CSHB 515, which would eliminate writing and social studies assessments and require only end-of-course assessments in reading, math and science as required by federal law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • CSHB 539, which would allow the children of military service members to enroll full-time in the state virtual school network.
  • CSHB 816, which would create a mentor program for new teachers in Texas.
  • HB 1918, which would create a grant program to provide online professional development courses for new teachers, those teaching out of their certification or those teaching at underperforming schools.
House Public Education Committee meeting on the House floor, April 24, 2017.

House Public Education Committee meeting on the House floor, April 24, 2017.

CSHB 2185 failed on a tie vote, with five members voting for and five voting against the measure. The bill would have specified that immunity from liability and suit of an open-enrollment charter school is not waived unless immunity is expressly waived in statute. It would have treated open-enrollment charters the same as traditional public schools for purposes of zoning, permitting, code compliance and development. HB 2185 would also have exempted open-enrollment charter schools from the requirement to pay impact fees. Voting against the committee substitute, state Rep. Linda Koop (R-Dallas) explained it would negatively impact Dallas ISD.

The committee will meet at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday to consider more than two dozen bills on the agenda.

House Public Education advances teacher misconduct bills

The House Public Education Committee met Wednesday afternoon to vote out several pending items. Most of the bills were passed by a unanimous vote:

  • HB 23 by Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston), which would create a five-year grant program to provide money for districts and charters that provide innovative services to students with autism. 
  • HB 79, which would eliminate the cap the percentage of special education students who take alternative assessments, as opposed to standard assessments.
  • HB 168, would create a voluntary program to recognize licensed before-school and after-school programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity. The committee recommended this bill for placement on the local and consent calendar.
  • HB 404, which would create higher education curriculum review teams charged with reviewing changes to the TEKS.
  • HB 639, which would authorize districts to obtain health benefit plan, liability or auto insurance for partner businesses and students participating in CTE programs. State Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) voted “present.”
  • HB 1556, which would require training for foster parents of a child with disabilities before making educational decisions on the child’s behalf.
  • HB 1593, which would add programs and interventions that engage a family in supporting a student’s learning at home to requirements for family engagement strategies. The committee recommended this bill for placement on the local and consent calendar.
  • HB 1980, which would allow a transfer student to graduate through an individual graduation committee if they transferred after completing grade 11 in a different state and are unable to comply with curriculum requirements or end-of-course assessment instrument requirements needed for graduation.
  • HB 2039, which would create a new Early Childhood through Grade 3 Certificate, which the SBEC is currently in the process of thoroughly reviewing as one of several avenues to help early childhood teachers get the specific instruction needed to best teach early childhood students.
  • HB 2729, which would order the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to develop an inventory of certifications and credentials that may be earned through high school CTE programs, including certification fees and salary information.
  • HB 2880, which would reduce the offense of threatening to exhibit or use a firearm at school to a misdemeanor if the person does not have possession of or immediate access to a firearm.
  • HB 3024, which would add chiropractors to the list of those able to determine that a student might have suffered a concussion and should be removed by an interscholastic athletic activity.
  • HB 3563, which would make it more difficult for a school to avoid notifying parents when their child is assigned to an uncertified teacher.
  • HB 3593, which would create a new high school cybersecurity program.
  • HB 3769, which is the House companion to SB 7.
  • SB 7, which is the teacher misconduct bill aimed to crack down on inappropriate student-teacher relationships and end so-called “pass the trash” practices that result in teachers guilty of misconduct obtaining work in other school districts.
  • HB 713, which would end the de facto “cap” on special education enrollment unveiled by the Houston Chronicle. The committee reconsidered its previous vote in order to recommend this bill for placement on the local and consent calendar.

Chairman Huberty concluded the formal meeting by reminding members that HB 21, House leadership’s priority school finance bill, is scheduled for floor action next Wednesday. Amendments are due by 5pm Monday.

House Public Education committee advances flurry of bills

The House Public Education Committee gaveled in Tuesday to hear more than 30 bills on the agenda. Led by Chairman Dan Huberty (R-Houston), the committee also voted out the following bills:

House Public Education committee meets April 11, 2017

House Public Education committee meeting April 11, 2017

  • HB 467, which would adjust the language regarding the capacity available to charter holders under the bond guarantee program to back bonds with the Permanent School Fund (PSF).
  • HB 713, which would end the de facto “cap” on special education enrollment unveiled by the Houston Chronicle.
  • HB 743, which would allow a social worker to provide services to students and families in a school district, collaborating with school administrators in order to enhance students’ learning environments. ATPE supports this bill.
  • HB 2051, which would raise the new instructional facilities allotment (NIFA) to $1,000 from $250.
  • HB 1081, which would add renovated or repurposed facilities and leased facilities to the New Instructional Facility Allotment (NIFA) under the FSP.
  • HB 1720, which would require schools to provide parental notice if a child is found with lice. Furthermore, school officials would be required to notify the parents of every child in the same classroom as a student found with lice.
  • HB 2205, which would require school employees to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to local law enforcement, as well as the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
  • HB 3157, which would modify eye exam rules to allow students to be screened using photoscreening.
  • HB 1342, which would require elementary and high school students to receive mandatory annual sex abuse training “to promote self-protection, prevent sexual abuse of children, and reduce child pregnancy.”
  • HB 2130, which would order a study on the impact of the statewide assessment program on students in special education.
  • HB 2442, which would change “minutes of instruction” to “minutes of operation” for the purposes of determining the length of each school day.
  • HB 1076, which would revisit the timing of mandatory spinal screenings.
  • HB 1776, which would replace the U.S. history end-of-course assessment with the same civics test administered to those applying for U.S. citizenship and allow students to take the test at any time, beginning in grade nine.

The hearing began with HB 1152 by state Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), which would require a successful voter referendum before a board of trustees is allowed to change the name of a school district. The bill was filed after some Houston residents expressed disappointment with recent name changes.

HB 2616 by state Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto) would make it more difficult to suspend a student in a grade level below grade four, as well as create positive behavior and early detection and prevention programs for students experiencing disciplinary problems. According to the fiscal note, HB 2616 would require TEA hire an additional FTE at cost of about $122,000 per year. Rep. Giddings argued that too many children are being removed from school at a young age, which contributes to the “school to prison pipeline.”

HB 1585 by state Rep. Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would require a district include student input in the local instructional plan process. Rep. Murphy suggested that such a change would encourage more young people to participate in civics.

HB 3106 by state Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R-Galveston) would grant financial assistance to a school district to which an unacceptable school district is annexed. Rep. Faircloth explained districts forced to annex a neighboring unacceptable district must often resort to raising local taxes in order to absorb the incoming schools. According to the fiscal note, HB 3106 would cost the state $10.1 million through the biennium ending August 31, 2019. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2185 by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) would specify that immunity from liability and suit of an open-enrollment charter school is not waived unless immunity is expressly waived in statute. The bill would treat open-enrollment charters the same as traditional public schools for purposes of zoning, permitting, code compliance and development. HB 2185 would also exempt open-enrollment charter schools from the requirement to pay impact fees. Krause argued the changes would bring charter schools more in line with policies regarding traditional public school districts.

HB 545 by state Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco) would require principals to allow “patriotic societies” such as Boy Scouts to speak to students about membership at the beginning of the school year.

HB 1540 by state Rep. Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) would add the importance of quickly selecting a major or field of study into the list of post-secondary education information required to be provided to high school students.

HB 1114 by state Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Sunnyvale) would reduce the number of service days required of teachers in a district that anticipates providing less than 180 days of instruction, while preserving the teacher’s salary. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 2729 by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) would order the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to develop an inventory of certifications and credentials that may be earned through high school CTE programs, including certification fees and salary information.

HB 168 by Rep. Lucio would create a voluntary program to recognize licensed before-school and after-school programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 156 by state Rep. Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) would establish a pilot program in a certain South Texas high schools for placement of students in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs as an alternative to placement in disciplinary or juvenile justice alternative education programs.

HB 3606 by state Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls) would order the TEA to conduct a survey regarding the number of physical education classes, ratio of students enrolled in PE, average PE class size, etc. Supporters of this bill testified that youth obesity is a national security issue and physical fitness correlates with better classroom performance. Rep. Wilson argued locking specific data points in statute would allow the current health survey to better track long-term trends.

HB 209 by state Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would require every high school to make voter registration applications available to students and employees. Rep. Canales explained current law already requires schools to make registration forms available, but lack of uniform compliance could be improved by cleaning up the law and streamlining the process. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3476 by Chairman Huberty would require students who are required to take a physical under UIL rules to take an electrocardiogram. Would require one administration before the student’s first year of participation at the high school level and another time before the student’s third year of participation. Would not create a cause of action or liability for a health care professional, district or district employee. Medical representatives opposing the bill’s mandate cautioned that electrocardiogram results cannot be relied upon with 100 percent accuracy. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3438 by state Rep. Linda Koop (R-Dallas) would create a state financing program administered by the Texas Public Finance Authority (TPFA) to assist school districts with certain expenses. The program would have the authority to issue up to $100 million in bonds or other obligations, which would be guaranteed by the Permanent School Fund. According to the fiscal note, the program would require the state to hire an additional employee at a cost of $131,000 per year.

HB 2884 by state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would expand the requirement for daily physical activity in elementary school from four semesters to six. The bill would add a half credit for health and an additional half credit for physical education to the curriculum requirements for graduation under the foundation high school program. Supporters testified healthier students are better learners, and poor health can put education at risk.

HB 3145 by state Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) would require each district’s board of trustees to adopt a school recess policy with a minimum number of minutes. Rep. Deshotel explained studies have shown regular recess periods correlate to better focus in the classroom and higher test scores.

HB 1638 by state Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would order TEA and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop statewide goals for dual credit programs, along with a program to evaluate them.

HB 3024 by state Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo) would add chiropractors to the list of those able to determine that a student might have suffered a concussion and should be removed by an interscholastic athletic activity.

HB 3795 by state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) would include a student residing in the boundaries of a school district who is attending an open-enrollment charter school in calculating the district’s WADA. According to the fiscal note, such a change would cost the state roughly $654 million over the next biennium.

HB 2880 by Rep. Dutton would reduce the offense of threatening to exhibit or use a firearm at school to a misdemeanor if the person does not have possession of or immediate access to a firearm. Dutton explained that prosecutors may be hesitant to bring felony charges with lifelong implications against a student who makes a threat without actually possessing a firearm. By creating a misdemeanor charge, Dutton suggested prosecutors could convey the seriousness of the incident without permanently marring a child’s prospects through a felony conviction.

HB 3318 by state Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) would require a district of innovation (DOI) to post its innovation plan online and maintain it in public view on the district’s website. Districts of innovation would also be required to reports plans and changes to plans to the TEA for posting on the agency’s website. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 3251 by state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian) would remove language from statute that makes the adjustment for rapid decline in taxable value of property in a school district subject to appropriation. By guaranteeing the adjustment, the fiscal note estimates HB 3251 would carry a cost of $384 million over the next biennium.

HB 3593 by Vice-chairman Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would create a new high school cybersecurity program. HB 3593 would merge the technology applications requirement into CTE for the purposes of the foundation high school program. The bill would order the State Board of Education (SBOE) to approve a course in cybersecurity, and allow districts to offer cybersecurity courses without prior approval if they are in partnership with an institute of higher education that offers an undergraduate degree program in the subject. HB 3593 would add computer coding as an acceptable substitute for credits in a language other than English, would add cybersecurity and coding to STEM endorsement categories, and would entitle a teacher to a subsidy if they pass a certification examination related to cybersecurity. The bill would also allow a district to use new instructional facilities allotment (NIFA) funds to renovate an existing instructional facility to serve as a dedicated cybersecurity laboratory. According to the fiscal note, HB 3593 would cost roughly $45 million over the next biennium.

HB 2614 by Chairman Huberty would waive the requirement that school districts administer a free nationally norm-referenced preliminary college preparation assessment instrument to students entering high school and students in the 10th grade.

HB 3369 by Chairman Huberty would require additional training and supports for special education teachers and district personnel responsible for determining eligibility for special education programs.

HB 3381 by Chairman Huberty would order the governor to designate a Texas Military Heroes Day in public schools. Would require instruction regarding persons who have served in the armed forces from the community in which the district is located and age-appropriate learning projects at battlefields and gravesites.

HB 1980 by state Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would allow a transfer student to graduate through an individual graduation committee if they transferred after completing grade 11 in a different state and are unable to comply with curriculum requirements or end-of-course assessment instrument requirements needed for graduation. APTE supports this bill.

HB 2087 by Rep. VanDeaver would protect student data. Specifically, the bill would protect students’ personally identifiable information from being gathered by web sites or providers for targeted advertising.

HB 1593 by Rep. Bohac would add programs and interventions that engage a family in supporting a student’s learning at home to requirements for family engagement strategies. ATPE supports this bill.

HB 895 by state Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) would allow for the expansion of full-time virtual school programs by requiring districts pay the cost of full-time virtual schools that were set up after January 1, 2013. Previous legislation capped the growth of additional full-time virtual school programs by confining state funding to those established before 2013.

ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified against HB 895, pointing out the growing body of research that indicates full-time virtual schools provide a poor substitute for brick-and-mortar classroom instruction. The state’s two largest full-time virtual school programs were rated “needs improvement” in 2016, yet continue to serve the vast majority of full-time virtual school students in Texas. As long as full-time virtual school programs continue to fail Texas students, there is no justification for further expansion.

Before adjourning Tuesday’s meeting, Chairman Huberty announced the committee could vote out additional bills as soon as tomorrow.