Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

House Committee Interim Report Previews Texas Legislative Action On Education

In March of 2022 Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan tasked the House Committee on Public Education with studying multiple education issues during the interim between the 87th and 88th Legislatures. 

And that report, issued last month, is likely to shed a great deal of light on much of what the current legislature will do this session regarding education. It was authored by committee chair, Rep. Harold Dutton and Tamoria Jones, general counsel to the House Public Education Committee, over a nine month period culminating in the December completion. 

Dutton, Democratic Representative for District 142 in the Houston area, led the committee of 13 including himself, as they worked to review a myriad topics related to public education in Texas

To meet the objectives Phelan laid out, Dutton and the committee members were asked to monitor the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature, according to a summary of the report by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Phelan identified topics of interest such as parents’ roles in education and state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools. Multiple new education bills — and some existing bills, from both house and senate — were examined by the committee.

The 118 pages reflect the yeoman’s work done by Dutton and the other committee members. 

On HB 1525 and HB 3 (86R) regarding public school finance and public education, the committee recommends the Legislature move to a funding model that allocates funds based on the intensity of services delivered for special needs students.

They recommend that the House remove the appropriation limits beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, and also reduce the number of required school days from 180 to 175.

They also recommend that the Legislature increase funds for Career & Technology Education summer grants, and dedicate money for small/rural districts to help those school districts expand their CTE offerings, and also include remote options like computer science.

Regarding school safety, they recommend an increase in appropriations to provide funding for more adequate school safety and security measures. 

HB 4545, which was slated to cease through a sunset provision, is now headed toward different funding through the General Revenue fund if the recommendations are passed into law. Also in the bill would be an opt-out for parents not wanting their children to be in accelerated learning programs in the areas of social studies or liberal arts, but still, be allowed to continue in an advanced capacity in math and science. 

A more difficult recommendation to meet will be the increase in the student-to-tutor ratio, due to the pandemic and poor pay driving teachers from the profession in the state. 

Recommendations for SB 1716 include removing the expiration date and continuing funding into the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES). They also recommended that families be given the option to roll over unused funds across fiscal years to improve service availability.

Those are $1,500 one-time online grants for eligible parents/caregivers of eligible special education students impacted by COVID-19 school closures, and can be used to obtain educational materials and resources and services such as additional speech therapy or other specific services, according to the Texas Education Agency

Phelan also charged the committee with studying what the report calls “Parent Empowerment” — which seeks to identify and examine efforts to ensure that parents have a more meaningful role in their children’s education — to protect the right of parents to participate in their child’s education. Much of the recommendations regarding that charge revolve around creating a standard for processing parental grievances. 

Another charge to the committee was for them to examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals in the public school system. They were also asked to seek ways to reduce or eliminate existing barriers to providing mental health services in a traditional classroom environment or through remote teletherapy means.

The committee recommended that more of the School Safety Allotment be used on mental health, school climate strategies and, increasing the number of mental health professionals to serve students and staff by expanding teletherapy, and encouraging on-site work at campuses with “at-risk” populations.

Both school safety and mental health have been controversial issues dividing conservatives and liberals in the state since school shootings and shooting tragedies began to expand the discourse in the state, but as legislation on gun restrictions have little support, the effort by Dutton and the committee to address the issues within the context of schools is likely the most effective way to deal with the issue in the current political climate. 

Another charge Dutton’s team had to address was the possible restriction of investment by Russians — whether they be nationals or government entities — to the Permanent School Fund (PSF). The committee recommended that once capital liquidity improves, and there is greater clarity in the market, possible sales of assets be carried out. 

The PSF is a state endowment of about $56 billion funded through investments and land holdings and was created in 1854 as a secondary revenue stream for the state’s public schools other than tax dollars. 

To download the entire Interim report, click here

Dave Manning
Dave Manning
Dave Manning is a content creation professional with a background in multiple forms of media and communications. As a former university publications editor, staff, and freelance writer, he has created content for newspapers, magazines, and online media sites. He has also created content, both written and digital, for small businesses, global corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Aside from being a regular contributor to RA News, he is currently working on a novel for digital publication.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Articles

Award-App Footer

Download our award-winning app