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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: May 5, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature Elections Curriculum | Instruction Privatization | Vouchers School Safety

Date Posted: 5/05/2023

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

A busy Saturday awaits. Texans head to the polls for the May 6 local election, which includes many school board races and bond elections. At the Capitol, the Texas House will be tackling its first Saturday calendar, which means sine die is nigh.

MAY 6 LOCAL ELECTION: Tomorrow, May 6, is many Texans’ last chance to vote for their next local school board trustees or in local bond elections. Because no statewide or national races are on the ballot, these elections see historically low voter turnout year after year.

Voting in tomorrow’s election is especially crucial given the unprecedented increase in PAC spending toward school board elections. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins spoke with Houston Public Media Thursday, May 4, regarding the dangers of this trend—pointing out the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Texans for Educational Freedom has put behind voucher and privatization proponents running for local office.

ATPE Marketing & Communications Director Kate Johanns also shares the importance of voting in school board elections and attending school board meetings in this post on the ATPE Blog. If your community is holding a local election, visit votetexas.gov to find your polling place and vote411.org to see what’s on your ballot, and don’t forget to add voting to your Saturday to-do list.

LEGISLATIVE DEADLINES: Monday, May 8, 2023, is the last day for House committees to report House bills and House Joint Resolutions. Any House bills left pending in committee after Monday are dead. In this blog post, ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave takes a look at bills currently pending in the House Public Education Committee, including all bills it has heard on vouchers and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), as well as other upcoming House deadlines.

CURRICULUM BILL: House Bill (HB) 1605, a priority bill of House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado), was passed by the Texas House Tuesday. The bill’s stated goals include ensuring teachers are not burdened by lesson planning and creation, helping teachers to source lesson materials, and ensuring that materials used follow the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and are age appropriate and rigorous. The bill would create lists of high-quality instructional materials approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the State Board of Education (SBOE) that meet the TEKS curriculum standards. ATPE's position on HB 1605 has been neutral, with concerns that the financial incentives offered to school districts to choose TEA developed content for their staff will lead to a de facto mandated curriculum and loss of teacher autonomy. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave has more in this blog post.  

HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION: A bill heard Tuesday by the House Public Education Committee would require public schools to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom. ATPE opposed Senate Bill (SB) 1515 by Sen. Phil King (R–Weatherford) with written testimony on the grounds that it could conflict with the personal religious freedom of staff members. The committee also heard a pair of ATPE-supported bills, House Bill (HB) 1281 by Rep. Jolanda Jones (D–Houston) and HB 2694 by Rep. Venton Jones (D–Dallas),  that would require parental notification if certain personnel are not available on campus, as well as ATPE-supported HB 2677 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R–Cleburne), which addresses workplace bullying in school districts, including bullying or harassment from a parent to a staff member. Learn more in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave.

SENATE EDUCATION: The Senate Education Committee met briefly Thursday to hear its first round of House bills, including ATPE-supported House Bill (HB) 2484 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City), which would ban a spectator from UIL events if they assault a sports official, and ATPE-supported HB 2871 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D–Clint), which would create a program for computer science education capacity promotion at the University of Texas. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins recaps the action in this blog post.

TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK: Let ATPE be among the first to wish you a Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Although some organizations observed this annual occasion this week, ATPE, PTA, and other major education groups are celebrating May 8–12 as the 2023 Teacher Appreciation Week. ATPE members, please be on the lookout for a special email Monday. The work of all Texas public school employees is something for which we are grateful every day of the year.


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