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Recap: House Public Education Committee Interim Hearing

Notes on the Committee's April 26 Interim Hearing

April 27, 2022
The Texas House Committee on Public Education met on Tuesday, April 26. Commissioner Mike Morath of the Texas Education Agency provided a presentation on the current state of public education, including slides showing the impact of COVID on students and the teacher workforce.

There was robust discussion among members of the committee. The discussion ranged in topic, including discussion on:
  • Impact of the pandemic on student achievement and the teacher workforce,
  • Validity of the STAAR exam (see the report Commissioner Morath refers to in his comments),
  • Identifying strategies to give teachers more time for instruction and supporting teachers to stay in the workforce,
  • Challenges in implementation of reading academies established in HB 3, and
  • Teacher salaries.
 
Notable Exchanges:
1. Chairman Dutton asked Commissioner Morath to provide more information on slide 11 of his presentation, which resulted in a discussion about college readiness definitions.

Watch the video for this exchange at these time stamps: 26:36 – 29:02.

Philanthropy Advocates has commissioned research to analyze how the state of Texas currently defines college readiness across pre-K-12 education and in higher education to identify systemic alignment and policy opportunities to further streamline public and higher education for students.

2. Representative VanDeaver asked Commissioner Morath to address the implementation of reading academies established in HB 3 and comment on the state’s current recruitment and retention challenge of our teacher workforce.

Watch the video for this exchange at these time stamps: 1:11:44 – 1:19:02.

Commissioner Morath’s remarks completed at 1:48:55 in the archived video.
 
The Committee then addressed the following interim charge: (Beginning at 1:49:24 of the archived video.)

“Examine the impact, including any financial impact, to the Texas public school system of an increase in the number of children crossing the Texas-Mexico border. Review the history, any applicable precedents, and the legal landscape regarding the education of migrant children in Texas’s public schools.”

TEA’s legal and financial staff testified, followed by three superintendents who were invited to provide testimony: Dr. Veronica Vijil, superintendent, Fabens ISD; Dr. Ricardo Lopez, superintendent, Garland ISD; and Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, superintendent, McAllen ISD.

The superintendents discussed:
  • Increasing funding for full-day pre-K, especially as school districts have seen a drop in attendance in early grades because of the pandemic,
  • Ensuring broadband expansion and connectivity,
  • Additional spending on CCMR model schools, notably P-TECHs, and the importance of providing students with postsecondary credential options while in high school,
  • Increasing funding for bilingual students as the emergent bilingual student population increases,
  • Teacher stipends and rigorous materials to help with recruitment and retention of bilingual teachers,
  • Increasing funding for teacher pay,
  • Considering funding school districts based on enrollment and not attendance; Keeping funding weights that acknowledge differing needs of students served,
  • Investments in technology for early college programs and industry certifications that make a difference in students’ immigration status and in becoming citizens.
The Committee also heard public testimony on this interim charge. Public testimony began at 2:51:15 of the archived video.

The Committee ended the meeting on the following interim charge: (Beginning at 3:09:48 of the archived video.)

“Review the impact of investments of the Permanent School Fund by the State Board of Education in businesses and funds owned or controlled by the Russian government or Russian nationals and determine the need for investment restrictions. Consider the impact of any proposed investment restrictions on fund performance.”

Representatives from TEA and the General Land Office, as well as SBOE member Tom Maynard, were on the panel providing invited testimony on this charge.

The full meeting his available to watch here.

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