I spent a good portion of this week educating myself on many of the legislative bills that could have an impact on public education in Texas. Some of that time was spent talking with our State Representative John Wray and his staff. I hope you will find these updates helpful, and if you have any questions please let me know and I will try my best to get those answered for you.
1) PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE
A plan from a top House lawmaker to overhaul the state’s public education funding system received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing.
2) PRE-K BILL (HB 4)
The Pre-K funding bill HB 4 does appropriate $130 million to high quality pre-k. Additional funds would have to be appropriated and cannot be requested by a school district as this program is not formula funded. It does not expand eligibility and will be opt-in for school districts.
3) TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIP BILL (CSSB 4)
Authors: Senator Larry Taylor, Senator Paul Bettencourt, Senator Donna Campbell
PURPOSE: To provide low-income students and students with disabilities and their families a choice in education through a tax credit scholarship program.
4) HB 2543 by Farney
Current law allows for “check-the-box” compliance based teacher evaluations. Professional development involves teachers sitting in a cafeteria and reading a PowerPoint, and is not tailored to the individual teacher’s needs. The minimum compensation schedule is outdated, obsolete, and barely utilized.
This bill aims to broaden teacher’s options for professional development, clearly define what Texas looks for in their teachers, and allow school districts more flexibility in how they compensate their teachers.
Requires commissioner to create a Teacher Development Framework (TDF) that will connect performance appraisals, professional development, career development, and compensation. This bill only asks that the school districts take this framework into consideration when deciding how to compensate teachers.
The TDF will have five appraisal criteria:
1. The teacher’s implementation of discipline and classroom management
2. The academic performance of the teacher’s students;
3. Demonstration of general teaching standards that show teacher knowledge,
4. Classroom observations;
5. Teacher’s engagement in collaborative settings and their willingness to improve procedures; understanding, and utilization of skills that support student educational growth; their skills through professional engagement and growth.
If there are other legislative topics in which you are interested in learning more about, please let me know.