Eyes on the Board: SBOE to Review Charter School Rules, New Applicants

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met in Austin this week to discuss its regular agenda. This meeting was heavily administrative with the board receiving ethics training and revising its processes for standards revision and instructional materials review panel selection. One committee also received a lengthy progress report on school safety from the Texas School Safety Center.

Of particular interest to our union were items concerning charter schools. One item was related to the “no-contact” rule for charter applicants. This rule prevents applicants from contacting SBOE members prior to their public hearing in an effort to prevent lobbying by those groups. Charter PACs and supporters invested heavily in SBOE races in 2022 in an effort to smooth the way for additional charter operators to get state dollars. This rule review will be the first test of whether or not supporters of real public schools can hold the line against predatory charters moving into our state. (We are also closely following a bill in the Legislature, HB 2890, that would require a two-thirds vote rather than a simple majority to veto a charter application.) 

The board also received an update on the Generation 28 charter applications. Somewhere between 8-11 applications will move forward and receive a capacity interview in May before the commissioner of education makes his final recommendations to the SBOE. The board will vote to approve or deny these applicants at its June meeting.

On Friday, the SBOE voted down a State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) rule relating to the updated school librarian certificate. The board’s reasoning was that it contained references to the American Library Association (ALA) code of ethics that protects the right of privacy in what a student reads. The veto happened on a 10-5 party line vote. What was clear from this decision and other conversations in the various committee meetings throughout the week was that the newer, more conservative members are committed to preventing a non-existent “woke” agenda in Texas public schools.