House Public Education Committee to Consider Staffing Notification Requirements, Mandatory Display of Religious Texts in Public Schools

Next week, the House Public Education Committee will consider several bills, including:

  • HB 1281 by Rep. Jolanda Jones (D-Houston) would require school districts to notify families if a public school or open-enrollment charter school does not have a nurse assigned to the campus during all instructional hours. Supported by Texas AFT.
  • HB 2694 by Rep. Venton Jones (D-Dallas) would require schools to notify parents and guardians if a campus lacks a full-time nurse, librarian, or school counselor. Supported by Texas AFT.
  • SB 1515 by Sen. Phil King (R-Weatherford) would require a framed copy of the Ten Commandments to be placed in every public school classroom. Opposed by Texas AFT.
  • HB 4199 by Rep. Lulu Flores (D-Austin) would require school districts to make menstrual products available for free in restrooms on public school campuses. Supported by Texas AFT.

You can register your position on any of these bills through the end of the meeting Tuesday via the House’s online comments portal. Not sure how to use the portal? Texas AFT has a how-to guide you can download.

We are glad to see important staffing bills like HB 1281 and HB 2694 will be heard by the House Public Education Committee, but we remain concerned that the committee’s agenda once again does not include a number of other bills that would directly help our current school staffing crisis, by lowering class sizes, reducing educator workloads, and reducing standardized testing requirements. 

We encourage all school employees and parents to contact Chairman Brad Buckley and encourage him to give the following bills a hearing before it’s too late: 

Close Class-Size Loopholes

  • HB 2938 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would remove the ability of Districts of Innovation to exempt themselves from class-size restrictions and require all schools to report excessive class sizes on the school website, regardless of whether a waiver is granted.
  • HB 2939 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would remove the ability of Districts of Innovation to exempt themselves from class-size restrictions, employment protections, and the Safe Schools Act.
  • HB 4230 by Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) would expand 22:1 student-to-teacher ratio requirements to grades 5 through 8 and make it more difficult to subvert these requirements.

Reduce School Employee Workloads

  • HB 2695 by Rep. Venton Jones (D-Dallas) would require school boards to adopt policy establishing benchmarks for the amount of square feet a school custodian may be assigned to for maintenance and custodial service.
  • HB 2942 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would prohibit Districts of Innovation from wiggling out of educator certification and contract requirements.
  • HB 4963 by Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require educators’ contracts to specify the number of days of service they are required to work and provide them with additional compensation if they work more than the specified number.

Reduce Standardized Testing Requirements

HB 337 by Rep. John Bucy (D-Round Rock) would eliminate certain state-required end-of-course assessment instruments not required by federal law and eliminate graduation requirements based on satisfactory performance on certain end-of-course assessments.