May 28, 2013

Asks Governor to Add Achievement School District to Special Session Call 

(Austin, Tx) Leaders of Texans for Education Reform (TER) lauded the 83rd Texas Legislature today for taking important steps in the regular legislative session to transform public schools and give Texas students the tools they need to meet the challenges of the global information economy.

TER Board Chairman, Florence Shapiro said, “We know that no single solution can bring about the transformation in Texas education that assures all our students access to a high-performing school. But the steps taken by the 83rd Legislature, including providing school districts enhanced flexibility to improve failing schools, the expansion of charter schools, improving the statutory platform for online education, and the creation of credit by exam begins this process. These bills will increase innovative teaching and access online technologies as well as expand parental involvement in their children’s education.  These reforms will have a lasting impact for Texas school children. We appreciate the leadership and courage of many state legislators who fought for these issues, challenging the status quo in our public schools.”

TER backed SB 2, the Charter Schools Bill, HB 1926, the Online Education Bill and SB 1325, Credit by Exam, all of which passed both legislative chambers by wide margins. 

TER is hopeful that an Achievement School District (ASD) bill will be considered in a Special Session.  ASD would provide an expedited and specialized turnaround team to change failing schools to successful schools.  ASD had overwhelming bi-partisan support in both chambers of the Legislature and failed only because of a procedural matter in the closing days of the session.

Texans for Education Reform is a broad bipartisan organization of community and business leaders from across Texas, both progressive and conservative, who are committed to transforming public education in Texas.

TER supported a package of educational reforms that are focused on three broad concepts: expedited intervention in failing public schools (both traditional and charter); increased parental involvement and control; and the use of national “best practices” in education.  In addition to ASD and the Legislation that will be signed by the Governor shortly, TER backed:

Parent Trigger – which improves the current law to allow parents to petition the Commissioner of Education sooner in order to change their own failing neighborhood school into a successful school.  Although this bill passed the Senate 26 to 5 and a similar Parent Trigger passed the House 133 to 11 in the last session, the Parent Trigger bill was never brought up for a vote in the House Public Education Committee.

District Transfers – allows students and their parents the opportunity to transfer, as room is available, to schools within their own district or into another district.  The District Transfers bill passed the Senate by a vote of 27 to 3 but was never voted on in the House Public Education Committee.

Home Rule – allows the local district, through a vote of the school board and district residents, to supersede some state mandates and take a more flexible approach to the education program. Although there was substantial support for the bill in the House Public Education Committee, the bill was not put to a vote.

Teacher Effectiveness and Advancement – modeled on the recommendations of a commission co-chaired by Mike Moses and Jim Nelson, two former Commissioners of Education, this bill seeks to include objective measures of student growth in teacher evaluations and gives local school districts more flexibility in compensating teachers.  A Teacher Effectiveness bill was substantially weakened in the Senate and the TER proposed legislation was never voted on in the House Public Education Committee.

A-F Accountability Rankings – would change Texas vague school rating system to an easy to understand A-F ranking. TER was successful in advancing legislation rating districts as A-F and hopes to see individual campuses rated A-F as well in the future.

Texans for Education Reform Board and Advisory Board

For additional information contact: Sherry Sylvester 210-241-5296; [email protected]