Texas Public Education at a Crossroads, Part Two

Our last Hotline outlined the comprehensive attack on public schools embodied in many bills already filed in the 2015 legislature. That attack underwritten by moneyed interests has three basic elements:  underfunding; then declaring failure based on misuse of test scores; and ultimately privatizing and deprofessionalizing public education.

But there’s an alternative, positive agenda worth fighting for, one that would reclaim the promise of public education:  full funding for Texas schoolchildren; fixing the broken testing system; building up instead of tearing down our neighborhood schools as pillars of the communities they serve. And many bills already filed, in whole or in part, reflect this positive agenda, including:

–State expenditure of $2 billion plus to increase school funding (HB 1 by Rep. John Otto as introduced)

–Increased funding for pre-K (SB 23 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini and other bills would provide full-day pre-K funded through state formula aid to school districts; HB 4 by Rep. Dan Huberty and SB 801 by Sen. Zaffirini would provide state grant funding to improve the quality of pre-K programs; HB 1100 by Reps. Eric Johnson and Marsha Farney would provide funding for full-day programs that meet higher quality standards)

–State expenditure of more than $700 million to cover the funding shortfall for TRS-Care, the health plan for retired school employees (proposed amendment by Rep. Otto to HB 1)

–Doubling the state’s contribution to help pay for current school employees’ health coverage (HB 1597 by Rep. Cesar Blanco, SB 659 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez)

–Ending unjustified tax giveaways that drain the state treasury (SB 80 and SB 868 by Sen. Rodney Ellis)

–Reducing emphasis on standardized testing as a graduation requirement (SB 149 by Sen. Kel Seliger)

–Reducing misuse and overuse of standardized testing at all levels (HB 743 by Rep. Dan Huberty, HB 1673 by Rep.  Gary VanDeaver)

–Prohibiting developmentally inappropriate testing in pre-K and kindergarten (HB 588 by Rep. Ana Hernandez)

–Banning use of students’ test scores on standardized tests as the basis for teacher compensation (HB 513 by Rep. Joe Moody)

–Turning neighborhood schools into true “community schools,” with parents and campus faculty and staff designing an improvement plan that coordinates needed services to students and their families (HB 1891 by Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Marsha Farney, Sylvester Turner, and Gary VanDeaver; HB 1892 by Reps. Eddie Rodriguez and Gary VanDeaver)

–Providing notice to parents when their child’s school lacks full-time nurse staffing (SB 69 by Sen. Rodney Ellis, HB 1938 by Rep. Garnet Coleman)

–Strengthening due-process rights for educators (HB 57 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez)

 

–Providing basic due process for support personnel (HB 54 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez)

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