Big news from the Texas Capitol: the Texas House of Representatives has just passed a constitutional amendment (HJR 77) and enabling legislation (HB 2037) that would transfer authority over the Permanent School Fund from the State Board of Education to an appointed Permanent School Fund Management Council. The author of both is state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. This is another indication of lawmakers’ growing dissatisfaction with the state board. TFN President Kathy Miller has released the following statement:

This was an overwhelming, bipartisan vote for competence and common sense. Taxpayers have a right to expect that people who manage billions of their dollars for our kids’ education actually know what they’re doing. We hope the Senate will join the House in approving these critical measures for transparency and responsibility.

Both measures now go to the Senate. If HJR 77 passes the Senate, voters must approve the constitutional amendment.… Read More

I can tell you there are people on the SBOE who vilify public education as the work of the devil. And I wonder how they can have a sincere interest in advancing the education of our school-age children with an attitude that public education is an evil entity. So I believe that this represents a very logical and tangible alternative to what we currently have.   -- Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, speaking at a Senate Education Committee hearing today on a bill to rein in the Texas State Board of Education The current session of the Texas Legislature has seen an unprecedented number of bills filed that would remove or otherwise rein in the authority of the embarrassment that the state board has become. The Senate Education Committee this morning heard testimony on one such bill -- Senate Bill 2275 -- that would remove the SBOE's role in adopting textbooks and curriclum and transfer it to the state's education commissioner. Sen. Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo, authored the bill with two other Republican and one Democratic senator, clear evidence that exasperation with the state board crosses party lines. The hearing this morning featured…… Read More

As you know, lawmakers have filed a slew of bills that would rein in the authority of the Texas State Board of Education. Next week one of the most important bills will get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee. Senate Bill 2275 by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would strip the state board of authority over approving curriculum standards and textbooks (among other things). The bill would shift that authority to the state's education commissioner. It also requires the commissioner to establish teams of educators and content experts to develop standards and review textbooks for approval. Read More

Very interesting.

The Texas Legislature should “take a thorough look” at changing the structure of the embattled Texas State Board of Education, maybe changing it to a nonpartisan or appointed board, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board Friday.

… Besides the board’s handling of science standards, Straus said, “I have some other concerns about that elected body having so much management authority over significant dollars,” referring to investments of the Permanent School Fund.

He said it would be “interesting” to look at nonpartisan board elections. Straus also brought up changing back to an appointed board.

“I’ve spoken to some people who were leaders in the effort to make it an elected board, and they’re very sorry,” he said.

State lawmakers are already considering legislation that would rein in the state board. The Texas Freedom Network is monitoring legislation on the state board and other issues here.… Read More

We have just seen the first legislative vote aimed at reining in the Texas State Board of Education. Yesteday the Texas House Public Education Committee unanimously passed House Bill 772, which would require that state board meetings be streamed live over the Internet in video and audio. We released the following statement from Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller:

For too long this board has been able to operate outside the watchful eye of parents and other taxpayers, and lawmakers seem to have had enough. Ideologues have turned the board into a playground for promoting personal political agendas rather than the interests of Texas schoolchildren. If installing a camera helps rein in those board members, we think taxpayers will be well served.

Kathy testified in favor of the bill, which was filed by state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. Rep. Howard and other lawmakers have been filing other key SBOE reform bills as well. TFN Insider will be closely following the progress of all these bills.

You can also stay informed by clicking here to join a TFN Rapid Response Team and subscribe to TFN Daily News Clips.… Read More