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AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Speaker of the House announced Monday a new committee to begin working ahead of a special session tackling education.
In a tweet, Speaker Dade Phelan said a special session on education matters was “all but certain.”
It comes after a regular session ending with no movement on giving raises to a dwindling public education workforce in Texas or on the governor’s main priority – school choice.
The committee consists of 12 members, including Brad Buckley, R- Salado, who led the House Committee on Public Education during the regular session.
Rep. James Talarico, D- Round Rock, and Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, D- San Antonio, are the only former educators on the committee.
The group must submit a report identifying the “current menu of choices available to K-12 students in Texas and highlighting options for providing additional educational opportunities to K-12 students.”
The report will be due the same week many school districts will be starting a new school year – teachers will have already reported back to their campuses.
Standardized testing, specifically the STAAR exam, is also expected to be a topic for this committee. The speaker called on the committee to “modernize assessment and accountability measures for Texas schools’ education K-12 students.”
During the legislative session, some of the most viable bills tackling teacher pay during the regular session were woven into legislation that would also create a school voucher-like program in Texas. The program would have allowed parents to use state dollars, or Education Savings Accounts, to pay for private school and other educational services, like tutoring.
The bills that included education savings accounts and teacher raises did not pass.
The Association of Texas Professional Educators cautioned the Speaker and House members Monday of “tying too many issues together” regarding education.
“The House should be clear that improving the delivery of ‘quality education, regardless of circumstance’ for all children is a matter of improving public education, as specified in the Texas Constitution—not diverting funds away from public education into a voucher scheme,” ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes said.