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Recap: House Public Education Committee Interim Hearing

May 27, 2022
The Texas House Committee on Public Education met on Tuesday, May 24. The Texas Senate Education Committee was occurring simultaneously and hearing similar charges. 

Interim Charge Addressed
  • Monitoring
    • HB 1525 & HB 3 (86R), relating to public school finance and public education;
    • HB 4545, relating to assessment of public school students and providing accelerated instruction;
    • SB 1365, relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal management;
    • SB 1716, relating to supplemental education services and instructional materials for certain public school students
  • Study the effects of COVID-19 on K-12 learning loss and best practices to address learning loss
  • Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system
  • Examine the causes and contributors for chronic absenteeism in public school and its impact on student outcomes

Interim Charge: Examine the impact of COVID-19 on students’ mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system.

Panelists included:
  • Tim Regal – Associate Commissioner of Instruction Support (TEA)
  • Julie Raymond- Director of Mental Health & Wellness (TEA)
  • Dr. David Lakey – Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (UT System)
  • Laura Williams - Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (Baylor)
  • Dr. Honi Talebi – Meadows Mental Health Policy Insitute
  • Dr. Angelica Ramsey - Midland ISD
  • Bonnie Contreras – Licensed Specials in School Psychology (New Braunfels ISD)
  • Dr. Anne Le – Tomball ISD Behavioral Specialist
  • Jill Adams – Texas School Counselor Association Board
  • Shannon Hauffman – HOGG Foundation for Mental Health

Panelists provided testimony followed by discussion among members of the committee. The discussion ranged in topic, including on:
  • TEA spoke of AWARE Texas 2021 grants that support schools mental health needs. These grants have been provided to each Education Service Center in the state.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused TEA to pivot their focus with mental health, looking at both physical and mental well being of teachers and students. With mental health continuing to be a growing concern, the Child & Mental Health Care Consortium has helped address this, bringing telemedicine to school districts.
  • Project Restore is also in place to allow educators to work on their own wellness. These initiatives along with the new mental health database underway at TEA aim to make resources more readily available.
  • American Rescue Plan Act 2021 (ARPA) funds are going to mental health and there are other ways supports are being provided. Dr. Lakey discussed monthly meetings currently happening virtually to discuss issues and address challenges.
  • Representative Bell asked about ESSER funds and how to ensure that when they have run out that schools are still receiving what they need. Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Talebi offered different suggestions about how those funds could be spent such as broadband expansion, telehealth for counseling, professional development, and increasing salaries. They underscored the importance of ensuring these are sustainable interventions. Watch the full conversation here.
  • Jill Adams with the Texas School Counselor Association Board discussed how behavior of students, counselor relationships, and the role of the teacher are not siloed interactions, but a ripple effect of student performance and burnout accompanied by counselor and teacher shortages. She advocated for an all-inclusive discussion. Watch her comments here.

Interim Charge: Monitoring
  • Commissioner Morath joined the House Public Education Committee after providing tesimony to the Senate Education Committee. He provided similar testimony to both committees on  monitoring legisaltion and learning loss. Read about Commissioner Morath’s presentation on these two topics here.
  • Commissioner Morath provided an update on the accountability bill, SB 1365. A-F rating are back in 2021-2022, but only with A-C or not rated indicators. A-F will be back in full in 2022-2023.

Chairman Dutton adjourned the hearing early upon learning of the tragic school shooting in Uvalde that took place during this hearing. The Committee will meet again in the interim to continue hearing charges in preparation for the upcoming legislative session. The full video is archived here.

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