TCEA is working very hard to ensure that the Texas Legislature enacts good public policy that is necessary to implement digital learning in Texas classrooms. Below is an update on what is happening related to educational technology.
Technology Lending Grants
The Texas Senate Education Committee took testimony on SB 1483 that would provide grant funds to help give access to devices and internet for students who are unable to afford them. These grants would ensure that students have access to digital content both at school and at home. In the Project Tomorrow Speak Up survey, 81 percent of Texans who identify themselves as community members indicate it is important for students to have consistent, safe internet access outside of school time to be successful in school. The survey also revealed that 75 percent of Texas 6th through 12th graders use the internet at home for school work. Those who do not have internet access at home are at a distinct disadvantage. Not only do they have fewer options in terms of access to content; they are unable to develop the technical skills necessary in an economy driven by technology. SB 1483, authored by Chairman Larry Taylor (right), is designed to address this problem.
Student Data Privacy
On Tuesday, April 11, the House Public Education Committee will take testimony on HB 2087 which is authored by Representative Gary VanDeaver (left). HB 2087 gives schools the much-needed ability to use digital tools to individualize and customize learning and improve student educational outcomes, all while maintaining strong privacy protections for student data. Among other features, HB 2087 will:
- Totally ban the sale or rental of student data
- Ban targeted advertising to students based upon their use of educational services
- Ban building a profile of students for any purpose other than for education
- Sharply limit disclosures of student information obtained by educational tech providers
- Require educational tech providers to maintain reasonable security practices and procedures to protect student data, and
- Require deletion of student data whenever a school or school district requests that the data be deleted.
You can watch the hearing live on the Texas House Video/Audio page.
Instructional Materials Allotment and Planning
Also on Tuesday, April 11, the Senate Education Committee will take testimony on SB 1481. This bill is designed to help districts utilize the Instructional Materials Allotment as intended: a dual purpose fund for instructional materials and technology. In a survey conducted by TCEA, only 44 percent of the respondents said their district always includes technology staff when making decisions on the use of the IMA funds. This bill is designed to make it clear what the legislature’s original intent was for the IMA. SB 1481 will:
- Change the name of the IMA to the Instructional Materials and Technology Fund to communicate the intent and purpose behind the creation of the IMA
- Require the SBOE to update the Long-Range Plan for Technology at least once every five years
- Require the SBOE to consider the technology needs of districts when planning the adoption process and proclamation schedule
- Update statute language to align with industry usage by replacing “open source” with the more accurate and applicable “open education resource” to identify these educational resources
- Require school districts to consider Open Education Resources when they adopt new instructional materials.
You can watch the hearing live on the Senate Broadcast page.
TCEA is working on behalf of Texas school districts to ensure that good policy is developed to assist in their implementation of digital learning. You can monitor these and other bills as they move through the legislative process and learn how to be more involved on the TCEA Advocacy site. Together, we can make a difference!