After hearing hours of public testimony, including a response from the publisher, the State Board of Education formally voted Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, to reject the controversial Mexican-American studies textbook, Mexican American Heritage. The board vote was unanimous, and prevents the book from being placed on the board-approved list of instructional materials. However, nothing prevents school districts or campuses from purchasing the book if they want to use it in their schools. The book was highly criticized as being racist and factually inaccurate. Due to the fact that this now-rejected textbook was the only instructional material submitted in response to a prior call for textbooks, the board also voted to issue Proclamation 2018, which calls for submissions of instructional materials for ethnic studies courses, including Mexican-American studies.
For more on the controversial textbook, click here.
2017 legislative recommendations
The State Board of Education also voted on its 2017 legislative recommendations. The eight recommendations below include returning instructional materials approval back to the board, requesting funds to assist the board in creating and implementing a long-range education plan, and prohibiting public dollars from going to vouchers.
- Expand the State Board of Education’s authority to review and approve instructional materials beyond 50% of TEKS coverage, factual errors and applicable physical specifications.
- Allocate funds to the State Board of Education to support the creation and implementation of a long-range plan as required by Texas Education Code 7.102(c)(1).
- Ensure sufficient legislative appropriations to increase staffing at the Texas Education Agency, particularly in the curriculum division, to provide adequate personnel to oversee and support the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills review and implementation process and the textbook adoption process.
- Protect the public education funds/services to adequately identify and serve the needs of all special education students by identifying and not limiting the number of students served or funding.
- Remove the limitation on the agency to undertake on-site monitoring of school districts and charters and provide funding for on-site monitoring.
- Conserve public free schools and prohibit public dollars from going to private schools or parents/guardians.
- Improve student data privacy by: 1) providing resources to the agency to ensure that agency data systems maintain and improve student data privacy, 2) passing requirements for publishers and third party suppliers to ensure student data privacy and 3) enacting student data privacy guidelines for local districts that include a requirement for local districts to adopt a plan to protect student data privacy.
- Support the Commissioner’s request for E-Rate support funding for high-speed internet infrastructure for classroom connectivity to improve student access to online resources for all Texas students.
$2.46 billion to fund schools
The SBOE also voted to provide $2.46 billion from the Permanent School Fund to Texas public schools over the next two years. That represents an estimated increase of $354 million over the funding level for this biennium.
"Through careful and prudent investments, the State Board of Education is able to increase funding to our schools. We’re happy to be able to offer this additional assistance," said SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich.
Every two years shortly before the Texas Legislature convenes, the board must set a distribution rate to the Available School Fund from the Permanent School Fund, which is the country’s largest educational endowment.
For more on the State Board of Education, click here.