First – thank you to all of our members who have contacted their legislators about SB 893 (and/or its House companion, HB 2543), the bill that would eliminate the state minimum salary schedule for teachers. Our web story on Senate passage of SB 893 has well over 70,000 reads – you’re clearly sharing the information with your colleagues, and we appreciate it. The pressure you are applying is working so far - we have heard from many legislators who are very concerned about this bill, so keep it up!

Check the current status of SB 893 and other harmful bills not listed below HERE.

But also be aware that there are several other bills moving through the process that would exempt districts or campuses from many laws including the state minimum salary schedule. It’s crucial that legislators understand how detrimental all of these reform proposals are. Teachers in these districts or schools could lose not only the salary schedule, but due process/contract rights, duty-free lunch, conference periods, the right to refer a disruptive student out of the classroom, and much more.

Unless otherwise noted, the reforms below would allow a campus or district to only have to comply with the laws that apply to charter schools. Click HERE to see a list of many of the laws that do not apply to open-enrollment charter schools. Note that a district or campus could choose to operate under local policies similar to any of these laws, but would no longer be required to.

We have highlighted any bills that we believe require attention due to their current status; check back often to see which bills are on the "hot" list. Also, note that although bills may die in the upcoming days due to end-of-session deadlines, the threat of amendments to other legislation is always imminent.
 

CONTACTING YOUR LEGISLATORS

Under each bill we have included information about where the bill is in the process and whom you should contact to express your opinions. We recommend that our members contact only their own elected legislators. You can find your elected representatives and senators, and their phone numbers and mailing information, HERE. If you click on the legislator’s name, you will be directed to the legislator’s House or Senate web page, which should include either a link or a web form that can be used if you prefer to communicate via email.

 

ELIGIBILITY: ANY SCHOOL OR DISTRICT

Innovation zones

SB 1241 (Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor) would allow the creation of “innovation zones” comprising multiple campuses (including campuses from different school districts) or an entire district. A multi-campus innovation zone could be created simply by a majority vote of the school board or boards that govern the campuses, and those campuses would then be subject only to the laws that apply to charter schools (with final approval from the commissioner). In the case of an entire district becoming an innovation zone, the commissioner of education again has some authority over which laws would apply, but the “floor” is the same short list of laws that apply to charter schools.
Affects: Any school in any district where a school board votes to create an innovation zone; the commissioner has final approval.
SB 1241 passed out of the Senate and was voted out of the House Public Education Committee on May 21. If you would like to express your concerns about the bill, contact your state representative and ask that he/she vote against SB 1241 if it is brought up for consideration in the House.
 

Local control school district

HB 1798 by Rep. Joe Deshotel is a reworking of the “home rule” school district concept, which was authorized in 1995 but has only been attempted, unsuccessfully, in Dallas. A local control district would be much easier to implement under this proposal. The laws applying to a local control district would be somewhat different from those that apply to a charter school, but key teacher protections (minimum salary schedule, contracts, duty-free lunch, conference periods) and student discipline laws are among the many provisions that would not apply unless included in the local plan.
Affects: Any school district in which voters approve a local control plan, initiated either by the school board or via a petition.
HB 1798 failed by a 59-76 vote on the House floor Wednesday, May 13.

 

ELIGIBILITY: LOW-PERFORMING SCHOOLS

Opportunity School District

HB 1536 by Rep. Harold Dutton and SB 669 by Sens. Royce West and Larry Taylor are similar bills that would create an Opportunity School District modeled on the post-Katrina Louisiana education system. The OSD would be a statewide district into which low-performing campuses could be placed by the commissioner. A campus in the OSD would be generally subject only to the laws that apply to charter schools (and in some cases, the campus could be taken over by a charter provider).
Affects: Schools that have been low performing for at least two consecutive years (in HB 1536) or three consecutive years (in SB 669). HB 1536 also limits eligibility for the OSD to schools in the largest school districts (those with at least 24 elementary schools).
HB 1536 was not scheduled for House floor consideration in time to meet the deadline for House bills.
SB 669 was heard by, but not voted out of the House Public Education Committee; its provisions have been added to HB 1842, the campus turnaround bill (see below).
 

Campus turnaround plan / district charter

HB 1842 by House Public Education Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock presents a new option for low-performing campuses. A campus would be required to develop a campus turnaround plan, and one of the options that could be selected by the campus intervention team would be conversion to a district charter, subject to essentially the same laws as an open-enrollment charter school.
Affects: Schools that have been low performing for at least two consecutive years (the turnaround plan would be implemented after the third consecutive year of unacceptable performance), which could be converted to a district charter.
HB 1842 passed the House and was heard in the Senate Education Committee on May 21. To express your concerns about this bill, contact your state senator and ask him/her to vote against it if it comes up in the Senate.
 

Parent trigger

SB 14 by Chairman Larry Taylor changes the manner in which parents can “pull the trigger” on a low-performing campus. The parent trigger option, in which a majority of parents at a struggling campus can petition to the commissioner of education to take certain actions, is available after three years, instead of five (as provided in current law); and the commissioner would be required to order the option requested by the parents.
Affects: Schools that have been low performing for at least three consecutive years, if the option selected by parents is management by a charter operator.
SB 14 has passed the Senate, and was heard in the House Public Education Committee Tuesday, May 19. If you would like to express your concerns about this bill, contact your state representative and ask that he/she vote against the bill if it comes to the House floor. (If your representative is a member of the Public Education Committee, ask for a “no” vote at the committee level.).

TCTA will update these bills with any movement or change in status, so keep checking back, and watch for action alerts in your email! Thank you for your interest and involvement.