Speaker announces interim charges for House committees, includes review of a substantial number of public ed issues

House Speaker Dade Phelan

On Thursday, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan announced his list of interim charges—issues and bills to be reviewed by House committees with hearings and reports issued before the next legislative session in January of 2023. On that list were a slew of items to be studied by the House Public Education Committee.

The charges of interest to public education are listed below by committee.

Public Education Committee

1. Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature.  Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following: 

  • HB1525 and HB 3 (86R), relating to public school finance and public education; 
  • HB 4545, relating to assessment of public school students and providing accelerated instruction; SB 1365, relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal management;  
  • SB 1716, relating to supplemental special education services and instructional materials for certain public school students; 
  • and HB 3906 (86R), relating to the assessment of public school students, including the development and administration of assessment instruments, and technology permitted for use by students. 

2. Complete study of assigned charges related to the Texas-Mexico border issued in June 2021. 

3. Identify and examine efforts to ensure that parents have a meaningful role in their children’s education. Recommend necessary changes in both independent school district board and open enrollment charter governing board governance to protect the right of parents to participate in their child’s education.

4. Examine partnerships between K-12, higher education institutions, and employers that promote postsecondary and career readiness and identify current obstacles that public schools, higher education institutions, and employers face. Make recommendations to ensure career and technical education programs, internships, apprenticeships, and other opportunities are more accessible.

5. Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce, and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state. (Joint charge with Committee on Higher Education)

6. Study the effects of COVID-19 on K-12 learning loss and best practices that exist to address learning loss. Monitor the implementation of state and local plans to address students’ achievement gaps. Make recommendations for supporting the state and local efforts to increase academic development.

7. Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system. Make recommendations to reduce or eliminate existing barriers to providing mental health services in a traditional classroom setting or through teletherapy.

8. Study the unfulfilled recommendations from the 2016 Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability. Evaluate the state’s progress on assessments and accountability and consider possible legislation to support the recommendations from the report. Study and recommend measures needed at the state level to prevent unintended 25 consequences to students, campuses, and districts, including changes that could improve the system for students or help public schools serving a disproportionate number of educationally disadvantaged students impacted by the pandemic.

9. Monitor and analyze the state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools.

10. Examine the causes and contributors for chronic absenteeism in public schools and its impact on student outcomes. Consider techniques and approaches that have been utilized by public schools to identify students who are chronically absent and return these students to classrooms.

11. Review the impact of investments of the Permanent School Fund by the State Board of Education in businesses and funds owned or controlled by the Russian government or Russian nationals, and determine the need for investment restrictions.  Consider the impact of any proposed investment restrictions on fund performance. 

Appropriations Committee

Charges include:

Review the utilization by the Texas Education Agency and local school districts of federal dollars appropriated from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds made available by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law No. 116-260) and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law. 117-2) to address students’ instructional loss and mental health challenges. 

Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee

Charges include:

Review HB 1585, relating to the operations and functions of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas; Review and evaluate the actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System (ERS) and Teacher Retirement System (TRS) pension funds. 

Ways & Means Committee

Charges include: 

Conduct a comprehensive review of the impact of not renewing Chapter 313, Tax Code. Evaluate tax incentives offered by other states and make recommendations for incentivizing manufacturers and other capital-intensive businesses to locate to Texas.