The 88th Texas Legislature convened on Tuesday, January 10, when all 150 House Members and 31 Senators took their oaths of office. The Governor and Lt. Governor take their oaths today, on Wednesday, January 11. The legislative session will continue for 180 days, and TCEA will be taking an active role in advocating for the investment in and use of technology in education. We have been successful in helping to shape policies regarding the availability and use of digital tools and resources in the past, but there are still issues that must be addressed. The following four focus areas are the legislative priorities approved by the TCEA Board of Directors for the 88th Texas Legislature.
TCEA’s Legislative Priorities
- Increase the funding for the installation of vital broadband infrastructure for school districts.
- Permit cities of a specified size to provide broadband services to their citizens after an exhaustive study to determine if that is the best solution for their citizens.
- Include broadband infrastructure projects in the list of eligible projects for public-private partnership funding.
- Remove barriers for families to receive federal subsidies for at-home access.
- Direct TEA to continue to offer bulk pricing for student device procurement, as well as broadband equipment.
- Provide dedicated funding for teacher professional development for technology-related courses:
- Prepare K-8 teachers for the revised Technology Applications standards
- Increase the number of computer science certified teachers
- Continue to provide professional development for K-12 technology teachers
- Replace the outdated, time-based system (Carnegie unit) of awarding credits and funding with one based on a student’s competency.
- Continue to allow districts to offer full-time virtual learning for their students.
- Determine a method to ensure that full-time, statewide virtual schools provide quality education for students. This will necessitate the state to establish a new method of determining which districts can deliver a quality education that is not dependent on the date by which they started their statewide program.
Cybersecurity and Technology Infrastructure
- Require cybersecurity training for school district employees who use a computer for at least 25% of their work time.
- Increase funding for cybersecurity and other technology-related equipment and infrastructure.
- Provide funding to help train technology staff on ways to prevent cybersecurity attacks.
TCEA is actively monitoring developments as the legislature continues to organize and members are assigned specific chairmanships and committee assignments. Once members have been assigned committees, TCEA will be requesting members to file and sponsor legislation on our behalf.
If you are TCEA member who is interested in participating in grassroots advocacy during the legislative session, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!