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Abbott signs “Parental Empowerment” bills

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Texas Legislature Curriculum | Instruction

Date Posted: 6/12/2023 | Author: Tricia Cave

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday signed into law four bills that he said were based on “empowering parents” as decision makers in their children’s education. 

House Bill (HB) 1605 was a priority bill this session for the House Public Education Committee’s chairman, Rep. Brad Buckley (R–Salado). The bill’s stated goals include lowering the burden on teachers with regard to lesson planning and creation by offering a state-approved optional curriculum; helping teachers source lesson materials; creating an SBOE-approved database of resources for educators to use; and ensuring those resources are high-quality, rigorous, and meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. ATPE testified neutrally on the bill, sharing concerns that the financial incentive offered to districts that adopt the state curriculum could be used to force teachers to teach a canned curriculum. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave testified in the House Public Education Committee that teachers need fewer administrative burdens, not less autonomy in lesson planning and design.  

HB 1926 by Rep. Lacey Hull (R–Houston) removes the expiration date of the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program, as well as removes limits on the amounts of funds appropriated to the program. Under the SSES program, first created in 2020, parents can apply for and receive a grant of up to $1,500 to purchase supplemental services and instructional materials for eligible public-school students in special education.   

HB 3803 by Rep. Charles Cunningham (R–Kingwood) expands the rights of parents to decide if their child should retake a course or grade. This bill will allow parents to elect for their child to repeat a grade up to eighth grade, expanding the law from the current third grade. Additionally, HB 3803 will allow parents to request a child retake a high school course, provided that the child has not met the requirements for graduation.  

HB 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) is an omnibus school library bill that will allow parents more access and control with regard to the library materials checked out by their children. The law requires that vendors rate materials sold to school libraries and label questionable material as “sexually relevant” or “sexually explicit.” Explicit materials will be banned from libraries, while “sexually relevant” materials will require parental consent to check out.  

Abbott reiterated while taking questions at the end of the bill signing that he will call a special session on vouchers later this year. The governor stated that future legislation is likely to look similar to HB 100 as it came out of the Senate in the regular session.


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