88th Legislative Update
On March 22nd, TCTELA members visited the Texas Capitol and contacted state legislators for our Education Advocacy Day. Members discussed the impact of school vouchers and restriction curriculum policies. Members shared personal stories, stories from their districts and communities, and current research exploring the impact of school vouchers on public schools and the use of scripted curriculum and book censorship. Please read our NCTE Liason’s Texas Voices article, “Advocacy Never Ends: Amplifying Teacher and Student Voices beyond the 88th Legislative Session,” for a full update on educational policies passed this legislative period.
A Special Session will start on OCT. 9TH to discuss school vouchers (education savings plans) and public school funding. Please reach out to your representatives to make your voices heard. Here is some research to help you learn more about the impact of vouchers on public schools, student well-being, and parent choice.
Overview of HB900
HB900, or “The Reader Act,” seeks to keep sexually explicit material from school libraries. This bill requires book vendors to assign ratings based on depictions or references to sex. While the bill was enacted on September 1st, booksellers have created a coalition to fight this bill. On September 18, 2023, Judge Alan D. Albright of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, issued a written order granting a Preliminary Injunction barring the implementation of HB900, stating that this law violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”
- Vendors are responsible for rating library materials.
- Ratings are only applied to material vendors determined to meet the definitions of sexually relevant or sexually explicit
- Material rated sexually explicit by vendors must be removed from the collection.
- Vendors will provide an initial list of materials they rated sexually explicit or sexually relevant to TEA by April 1, 2024.
- Materials rated sexually explicit must be removed from school libraries by April 1, 2024.
- Vendors will provide an updated list of materials rated to TEA by September 1, 2023.
- School districts review vendor-rated sexually relevant material in their current collection and post a report on their website by January 1, 2025.
Overview of HB1605
HB 1605 allows the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to create an open-resource instructional material program for districts. It provides a small allotment for districts that use state-created and approved materials. This bill also calls for statewide grade-specific reading and vocabulary lists. This addendum will require updates to the current ELAR TEKS. To learn more about the implementation progress, please visit TEA’s HB1605 page. Be sure to read the overview of the SBOE August 1st Session. TCTELA will provide more updates as TEA and the SBOE release information about forming committees to work on the ELAR addendum via webinars and articles in Texas Voices.
Ways to Advocate
We all have a fundamental right to advocate for ourselves and our communities. While some might say education is not political, when there are laws that govern how learning should occur, that makes education political. As educators and educational leaders, there are different avenues you can pursue to ensure that you can influence legislation that impacts the opportunity to provide all Texas students the right to equitable, inclusive, high-quality instruction and the ability for teachers and other stakeholders to do so. Start by finding out who your representatives are. Submit your address here to find out.
Once you know who your representatives are, you can:
Send an Email
Send an email via an electronic form available on the Texas Legislature website. Visit the member pages of the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives and click on the correct name. You’ll see an email link in the upper right of each senator’s page and the upper left of each house member’s page. Open a document on your computer and draft your message in support of or against policies that impact your school system and students then just copy, paste, and submit. Visit our Sections Depot for additional templates to address policies such as HB900 and HB 1605. These templates apply to emailing SBOE members, TEA offices, and school district leadership.
Make a Phone Call
Place a call to the capitol office or the district office of your legislators. A knowledgeable aide will make note of your message, including the specific points you’re making and the specific bills you are supporting. It’s that aide’s job to relay the content of your message to your legislator.
For some ideas on how to learn about the issues and how to participate in advocacy with the state legislature and with the State Board of Education, revisit our 2021 webinar: Challenge Accepted: Advocating for the Classroom to learn more about way you can participate from Missy Bender, Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Advocacy Director for Collin and Denton Counties, and Lindsay H. Metcalf, journalist and author.
2023 TCTELA Education Advocacy Day
The 88th Texas Legislative session began January 10, 2023.
Literacy Education Day was on March 22, 2023.
Advocating for the Classroom
On March 22nd, TCTELA members visited the Texas Capitol and contacted state legislators for our Education Advocacy Day. Now with less than 1 month remaining in the 2023 legislative session, we encourage you to contact your legislators once again. For some ideas on how to learn about the issues and how to participate in advocacy with the state legislature and with the State Board of Education, revisit our 2021 webinar: Challenge Accepted: Advocating for the Classroom to learn more about way you can participate from Missy Bender, Raise Your Hand Texas Regional Advocacy Director for Collin and Denton Counties, and Lindsay H. Metcalf, journalist and author.
2021 TCTELA Literacy Education Day
The 87th Texas Legislative session began January 12, 2021.
Literacy Education Day was on March 24, 2021.
2019 TCTELA Literacy Education Day
The 86th Texas Legislature is in session, and assessment is in the spotlight. As TCTELA members, we have an opportunity to share our expertise on that subject through individual advocacy and participation in the TCTELA 2019 Literacy Education Day initiative.
On March 27, small groups of TCTELA members will visit legislative offices at the capitol in Austin to express our support for legislation that requires an independent review of STAAR readability levels, for legislation that calls for the removal of high stakes measures associated with student assessment, and for legislation that would continue the work of developing a portfolio-based writing assessment as an alternative to STAAR.