This week in Austin was the final meeting of the year for the State Board of Education (SBOE). Among their standard duties, the board agreed upon several legislative priorities that fell under some broad topics: charter school transparency, charter regulation, instructional materials, board support, and school funding/appropriations. Their specific priorities include requiring the SBOE to approve all charter expansion amendments and requiring that all charters follow the same rules and regulations as traditional public schools. They also emphatically oppose any voucher schemes and call for a dramatic increase in the minimum salary schedule for teachers. While these priorities do not compel the Texas Legislature to take action, it is nevertheless encouraging to see this elected body take a firm stance on these issues.
In addition to articulating their priorities for the upcoming legislative session, the board also gave final approval to the K-12 social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). After nearly a year of work on the part of content area reviewers who recommended broad changes to the scope of social studies instruction, the SBOE abruptly changed course at the beginning of September, calling for a drastically reduced version of the standards. The only changes that were considered and adopted were those required to bring the TEKS into compliance with SB 3, the so-called “anti-critical race theory (CRT)” bill. The board will not issue a call for new instructional materials at this time, and it is anticipated that they will take up this content again in 2025.
This was also the final meeting for six members: Lawrence Allen Jr. (D), Ruben Cortez (D), Jay Johnson (R), Sue Melton-Malone (R), Matt Robinson (R), and Georgina (Gina) Pérez (D). The three Democrats did not run for their seats again; Robinson was drawn out of his district, and the other Republicans lost their primaries to more extreme candidates. Allen, Cortez, and Pérez have been steadfast supporters of Texas AFT priorities and we would like to thank them for their many years of dedicated service to Texas education.