Things are hopping at the Texas State Capitol. The legislature has been in session since January 8, so they only have around 74 days left to get their legislation passed. Getting a bill passed is no small feat. A bill must pass both chambers with the exact same language. This involves hearings, testimonies, possible amendments which change the bill, votes in both the committees and the chambers, and then a trip through a conference committee made up of members from both chambers to negotiate language they think will pass both the House and the Senate. Once the bill passes, it then goes to the governor’s desk for either his signature or veto. In the last legislative session, 6,276 bills were filed and only 1,322 were passed, of which forty-four were vetoed by the governor. Out of 6,276 bills, only 1,278 became law. This means that any bill filed only has about a 20% chance of becoming a law.
Most of the bills that have been filed this session have little to do with digital learning. But those that do will be on TCEA’s radar. March 10 was the last day that legislators could file bills, so I have been carefully making a list to see which bills are naughty or nice. I am trying to determine which bills will promote the use of technology in Texas classrooms and which might establish barriers. I use the legislative priorities approved by the TCEA board to guide my efforts.
If you want to see what bills from the Texas Legislature may have an effect on the use of technology in Texas schools, checkout TCEA’s advocacy page. You can also signup to get Action Alerts if you want to be notified when we need individuals to reach out to their state legislators on important issues.
Digital Learning Bills That Have Been Filed
TCEA has already worked with several House and Senate members to file legislation that we believe will help create an environment for student innovation and mastery of the state standards. Below is a list of the bills that have been filed with our assistance:
SB 1481 (Senator Larry Taylor) and HB – 4140 (Representative DeWayne Bohac) – These bills change the name of the IMA to the Instructional Materials and Technology Fund. They also require the SBOE to update the Long-Range Plan for Technology at least every five years. It will require school districts to create and use a technology plan that is aligned to the state’s plan and requires school districts to consider Open Education Resources (OER) when they adopt new instructional materials.
SB 1482 (Senator Larry Taylor) – This bill will create a 15-member commission to make recommendations for establishing a framework to incorporate digital teaching and learning in public schools.
SB 1483 (Senator Larry Taylor) and HB 4139 (Representative DeWayne Bohac) – These bills resurrect the Technology Lending grants and allow the Commissioner of Education to appropriate up to $25 million from the IMA for these grants.
SB 1484 (Senator Larry Taylor)and HB 3487 (Representative Dan Huberty) – These bills incentivize the creation and sharing of high-quality OER by creating a digital repository for OER and digital materials and a system that will assist districts in the review and selection of instructional materials. The goal is to provide districts with the kind of information necessary to acquire high-quality materials at the best price.
SB 2050 (Senator Larry Taylor) and HB 4064 (Representative DeWayne Bohac) – These bills would require pre-service teachers to take a digital literacy exam while they are in college. It also requires the SBEC to create rules regarding continuing education credits for the purpose of increasing an in-service educator’s technology proficiency.
SB 1685 (Senator Larry Taylor) and HB 395 (Representative Cecil Bell) – These bills will move the Technology Applications courses into the CTE curriculum, which would generate weighted funding for each student who takes these courses. It would also require the SBOE to review the courses and remove any duplicated courses.
Make Sure You’re in the Know
These and other bills that will impact the use of technology in Texas classrooms will be monitored as they move through the legislative process. We will provide up-to-date information on our site and will send this information to those who want to receive Action Alerts. Remember that these are YOUR legislators talking about YOUR issues, so stay involved!