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Senate Committees To Consider Virtual Instruction, Social Studies Bills Tuesday

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Credit: Texas Association of School Boards – August 9, 2021 Report

Senate Ed to consider virtual instruction bill on Tuesday

The Senate Education Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, to consider legislation that would provide state funding for virtual and off-campus electronic instruction at public schools and provide guidelines for how those programs would be allowed to operate. Watch the hearing.

SB 15 (Taylor) would allow schools to create their own virtual instruction programs for students who live within their district/charter attendance zones as long as the district or charter has earned at least a C in the state accountability rating system during the previous year or the last time a rating was assigned. Students must still have access to extracurricular activities, in-person services, and any special services required by state or federal law, such as special education. School administrators would be allowed to bring a student back to campus if the student is not meeting academic performance standards or other requirements set by the school. Schools would be able to enter into agreements with other schools to provide virtual instruction. The bill requires the commissioner to evaluate the performance of students enrolled in the program separately from the performance of other district or school students, and districts/charters would be prohibited from enrolling more than 10 percent of their total 2021-22 student enrollment in virtual programs. This law would expire on Sept. 1, 2027. Read the bill.

Senate State Affairs to hear social studies bill on Tuesday

The Senate State Affairs Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, to consider a bill that would legislate the teaching of and curricular requirements on social studies in Texas. Many refer to this legislation as the “critical race theory (CRT) bill.” Watch the hearing.

SB 3 (Hughes) would require the commissioner of education to create a civics training program for teachers and administrators and to establish the grade levels at which a teacher provides instruction to be eligible to participate in that training program. School districts and charters would be responsible for ensuring that at least one teacher and administrator from each campus that includes an eligible course attends the training. The bill then sets forth items that the State Board of Education must include in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) related to civic knowledge. The Texas Education Agency would be responsible for ensuring that all schools teach civics education according to this law. The bill then goes on to list several things that teachers cannot be compelled to do and that schools or teachers cannot make part of social studies instruction. Read the bill.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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