A typically busy Tuesday included full agendas on the House and Senate floors, and both education committees meeting at the same time in the morning before the House/Senate convened. With a full agenda that included several bills addressing charter school issues, the House Public Education Committee met until 11 p.m.

“Charter school day” included some fireworks. The overall tenor of charter school debates has changed somewhat this session. Legislators are becoming more aware of inequities in some areas between charters and traditional schools, and of the harmful effect rapid charter growth has had on some school districts, so many of the bills being proposed would place new requirements or limits on charter schools.

  • HB 43, a TCTA-initiated bill by Rep. Gina Hinojosa, generated some particularly spirited discussion. The bill would prohibit charter schools from excluding students from admission based on their disciplinary history, and was strongly opposed by charter school proponents.
  • Another bill, HB 1853, would require charter schools (and, by association, districts of innovation, since they can only be exempt from the same laws as charters) to abide by state laws regarding teacher certification and educator rights. The bill’s author, Rep. Leo Pacheco, noted that Texas was only one of eight states that allow uncertified teachers in charter schools. A representative of NYOS charter school in Austin testified against the bill, asserting that certification is not representative of the quality of a teacher.
  • HB 3263 by Rep. Alma Allen would bring charter schools under the whistleblower laws. The bill arose from a case that originated in Houston and went to the Supreme Court, in which a charter school teacher complained of mold-related ailments (experienced by both herself and her students) and was subsequently fired. A board member of the Texas Charter Schools Association testified against the bill, explaining his view that the whistleblower law is too often abused.

All of the bills were left pending.