One of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top priorities for charter-school expansion—SB 28 (Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston)—took a blow last week when the House Public Education Committee voted it down 3-5. The bill, which passed the full Senate on April 14, would limit the power of local elected officials in regulating and approving charter-school locations. The bill also would add new restrictions to the State Board of Education’s power to veto new charter applications—thus effectively putting the power of charter approval in the hands of the unelected education commissioner. The SB 28 vote did not include the full committee of 13 members, so we will be watching to see if it resurfaces for another vote.
Another bill promoting charter expansion—HB 1348 (Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont)—was defeated on May 6, but it has a companion bill in the Senate, SB 487 (Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola). SB 487 also would eliminate the authority of any elected official to determine where charter schools can locate in our communities. It passed the Senate Education Committee this past Tuesday.
The letters, phone calls, Tweets, and public comments from our members have made a huge impact on legislators ready to stand up against unbridled charter-school expansion. Stay tuned to take action if needed, since the provisions in these bills could pop up again in the waning weeks of the session.