The State Board of Education met from Tuesday, July 15, through Friday, July 18, for its regular July meeting. Here are the highlights:
On Tuesday, the board had a lengthy conversation with a curriculum and standards development specialist. This was the first of several planned interactions intended to help the board do a better job of overseeing the TEKS writing process with the goal of developing more streamlined, teacher-friendly TEKS.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Michael Williams addressed the board. He and the board had a longer than usual discussion primarily due to his recent actions regarding Great Hearts charter school in the Dallas area. During its last meeting the board chose to veto the commissioner’s recommendation to give Great Hearts a new charter to open a school in the Dallas area. Board members based their decision primarily on concerns that were brought to the board about that specific charter operator. In the interim between that meeting and this one, the commissioner chose to use his authority to grant the Great Hearts operating in San Antonio an expansion into the Dallas market. In doing so, the commissioner waived his own rules against granting expansions to a charter operator that had not been operating under a Texas charter for at least four consecutive years and essentially did an end run around the board’s veto.
The board also received a report on the health of the permanent school fund (PSF), which has topped $30 billion, the largest the fund has ever been. The board set the range within which it will pull funds from the PSF over the next biennium. It is the board’s duty to set the rate at which funds are taken from the PSF and sent to the Legislature to be appropriated. A portion of the money taken from the PSF is used to fund the instructional materials allotment and a portion is spent to offset the cost of education generally, decreasing the amount the Legislature has to spend out of general revenue.
On Thursday, the board met as committees. The Committee on Instruction, which is chaired by ATPE Past State President Sue Melton Malone, met an hour earlier than the other committees to host a dyslexia demonstration for the entire board. The Committee on School Initiatives discussed the possibility of the board updating the long-range plan for public education and long range technology plan, neither of which has been updated in more than a decade.
The full board heard public testimony on Friday from members of the public who are concerned about the influence of Common Core on AP History classes. Currently there are no Common Core standards for history.
This week, July 21–23, the TEA’s charter division has been conducting interviews of charter applicants. Several SBOE members have been present for those interviews.Watch recorded footage of the interviews.
On Friday, TEA will hold a public hearing to take testimony on the new commissioner’s rules regarding charter schools. Senate Bill 2 from last session transferred most of the SBOE’s authority over charter schools to the Commissioner of Education. Watch the hearing live.