Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released interim charges for the Texas Senate this week, a highlight of the destructive culture wars he intends to pursue in the next legislative session in January 2023. State senators sent Patrick some 600 policy recommendations to study as interim charges. The 84 assigned by Patrick reflect his priorities for the session.
Patrick directed the Senate Education Committee to review policies regarding reading materials in school libraries to ensure that they “are grade, age, and developmentally appropriate.” He also directed the committee to “make recommendations to enable parents to exert a greater influence on their child’s learning environment.”
In a campaign email sent to his supporters in conjunction with the release of the interim charges, Patrick stated that he intends to pass a law that mirrors the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits any mention of LGBTQ+ issues in kindergarten through third grade and was recently passed in Florida. Patrick explained that the issue would be addressed under the topic of “parental rights.”
Texas AFT President Zeph Capo was quoted in a Texas Tribune article on the Don’t Say Gay law this week:
Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said there is “certainly nothing at the state level” specifically about LGBTQ education in elementary schools. “What I think they’re referring to is not the curriculum, it’s not the formal education pieces,” Capo said. “There are elementary schools that are a safe and affirming school, which is a school that says, ‘LGBT families and students are actually welcome here and are going to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect.’”….Capo worries Texas teachers may even be targeted for having a picture of their spouse on their desk.
Regarding social studies instruction, Patrick asked the Education Committee to study “ensuring that critical race theory is not taught in public institutions of public education.”
Patrick also charged the Education Committee with investigating “how some cities and counties are prohibiting the expansion of charter schools through local ordinances.” It is unclear what form this blatant attempt to expand charter schools in Texas will take during the legislative session. The committee will also monitor the implementation of key education laws passed during legislative sessions last year.