Despite the perennial chorus of repealing mandates on Texas public schools, lawmakers are proposing more and more of them.
Both Democrats and Republican lawmakers in both chambers of the Texas Legislature have filed dozens of bills to impose additional requirements – large and small – on Texas teachers, administrators, and school boards.
Here’s a brief rundown of just a few of them:
- House Bill 55 by State Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would require that school districts offering pre-kindergarten programs limit class size to 22. The legislation would also require two certified teachers (or a certified teacher and a teacher’s aide) in classes of 16 or more. The child-teacher ratio would also be applied to private schools.
- House Bill 65 by State Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) would require school districts report demographic data related to suspended students to the Texas Education Agency.
- House Bill 76 by State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) would require public school students to obtain an electrocardiogram before being allowed to participate in UIL athletic activities.
- House Bill 102 by State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would impose a high number of mandates on mentor teachers and provide a process by which the Texas Education Agency administers additional funding to schools to subsidize them.
- House Bill 111 by State Rep. Mary Gonzalez adds “sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children with significant cognitive disabilities in both educational and noneducational settings” to the list of topics which new teachers must be trained.
- House Bill 114 by State Rep. James White (R-Woodville) would require school counselors to provide information related to the availability of college credit awarded by institutions of higher education to veterans and military servicemembers.
- House Bill 116 by State Rep. Mary Gonzalez amends the Texas Education Code to require more training for teachers and administrators on educating students with disabilities.
- House Bill 128 by State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) requires school districts to provide parents with a copy of their fitness assessment results.
While the wisdom and costs of implementing these items of legislation vary, lawmakers should tread carefully before applying more mandates to public schools, or any government entity for that matter.
School boards, administrators, and teachers are right in their frustration with the continued imposition of unnecessary and costly mandates. Where they often err is their push for them to be funded by the state.
Ultimately, all tax revenue collected by government comes from the same source: the taxpayer. And Texas taxpayers will be forced to shoulder the burden of any additional government expenditure.