Today, the House Public Education Committee heard the first education bills of the session. The bills spanned topics including prekindergarten class sizes, educator preparation and training, assessment, and special education. ATPE supported several bills on the agenda, including these:
- House Bill (HB) 55 (Gonzalez, D-Clint) Limit prekindergarten class-size and class size ratios to align with high-quality standards.
- HB 108 (Gonzalez, D-Clint) Create a digital portfolio assessment pilot program.
- HB 109 (Martinez, D-Weslaco) Allow charter schools to have a holiday on Memorial Day.
- HB 111 (Gonzalez, D-Clint) Create educator training requirements on recognizing the abuse and maltreatment of students with severe cognitive disabilities.
- HB 116 (Gonzalez, D-Clint) Improve educator preparation and training to better prepare teachers to serve students with disabilities.
- HB 120 (Gonzalez, D-Clint) Add an extra year of delay to testing for recent immigrants who are learning English.
- HB 165 (Bernal, D-San Antonio) Increase equity and the ability of special education students to receive high school endorsements.
In addition to the bills above, ATPE’s newest lobbyist, Andrea Chevalier, testified in support of HB 102 by Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio). The bill would improve and fund mentoring programs for teachers. As noted in our testimony, the ability of school districts to access additional funding to pay mentor teachers is a great way of providing differentiated pay that rewards the service and expertise of experienced teachers. Additionally, mentor programs have been shown to improve the effectiveness of beginning teachers, as well as teacher retention.
Other bills on the agenda today, for which ATPE did not take a position, included the following:
- HB 65 (Johnson, E., D-Dallas)- Would require districts to report information on out-of-school suspensions.
- HB 128 (Hinojosa, D-Austin)- Would require that districts send the results of student physical assessment to parents.
- HB 134 (Swanson, R-Spring)- Limits bond elections so that only one project or category of projects can be included within each proposition.
- HB 187 (Reynolds, D-Missouri City)- Alters the composition of the Fort Bend ISD School Board so that one member is at-large and the rest of the members are elected from single-member districts.