Senators hear ideas for ‘mandate relief’

Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee met to discuss “mandate relief” for school districts and heard from a state appointed group that detailed a wide-range of recommendations–mainly minimizing or eliminating reporting requirements. While some of the relief sought was down to the nitty gritty–reporting requirements for light bulbs, for example–two witnesses during the public testimony portion of the hearing were practicing educators with valuable experience to share.

Jose Rodriguez is a former Marine and current K-5 ESL teacher. When discussing a recommendation to eliminate Epi-pen training for all teachers, he noted, “Taking care of our students and ensuring their safety is paramount to good teaching, however Texas school nurses are better trained to dispense this important medication.” Many parents assume that nurses are always available on a campus to address any medical emergency. That is not the case and is one of the reasons Texas AFT has and will continue to push for legislation requiring campuses to notify parents of whether or not there is an available nurse on campus.

Patrick Huff, an adjunct professor and former school principal, spoke against the current test-driven, punitive accountability system. He explained that both federal and state law have created an accountability system that places far too much importance on standardized test results. “The idea of ‘school failure’ is a myth that is built around misleading terminology, deceptive data, and outright manipulation of the facts.” He explained there are many variables, such as poverty and trauma, for which standardized tests cannot account. He finished by urging the committee to “solve your funding problems and set free the teachers of Texas.”