Interim charges released
Education items will be studied before the 83rd Legislature

Rep. Joe Straus (R–San Antonio), the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, issued interim charges for all House committees Oct. 20. Interim charges direct legislative committees to conduct studies on various issues during the interim and often serve as a preview of the Legislature’s focus during the next session.

Straus’ interim charges direct all committees to study ways to increase the state’s manufacturing capabilities and the transparency, efficiency and accountability of state government. There are also specific charges for each committee, including some notable charges related to public education.

Defined-benefit plans
The House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee has been directed to monitor a Teacher Retirement System (TRS) study on the viability of current defined-benefit plans (DBP), as well as the implications and feasibility of creating a defined-contribution plan (DCP) or a hybrid plan. Talk of converting TRS from a DBP to a DCP has been on legislators’ lips for several years. Although DBPs guarantee participants a certain level of benefits for maintaining regular contributions (as does the current TRS pension plan), DCPs act more like a 401(k) or 403(b) in which returns are not guaranteed and are subject to market fluctuations. ATPE has long been opposed to converting TRS to a DCP.

House Public Education Committee charges
The House Public Education Committee was also issued several charges. The committee is to:

  • Conduct a review of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and make recommendations as needed.
  • Monitor state and local implementation of the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests, specifically its impact on students, instruction, teachers, and graduation or promotion rates. The committee is also to review how districts are implementing the new requirement that end-of-course assessments count for 15 percent of a student’s course grade, and recommend any changes to graduation or testing requirements that promote instructional rigor and support postsecondary readiness while appropriately limiting an overreliance on standardized testing.
  • Evaluate the charter school system in Texas and examine charter school successes and failures in Texas and other states. The committee is to compare the educational outcomes of students in charter schools with those in traditional schools and identify any best practices and how those practices might be applied statewide.
  • Review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEPs) in reducing students’ involvement in further disciplinary infractions. The committee is to determine the appropriate role of disciplinary alternative placements in promoting education achievement and how technology could be used to supplement education services. The committee is to also consider appropriate placements in DAEPs or JJAEPs and consistent funding models for those programs; consider options for counties without a JJAEP or inefficiently few placements in a JJAEP; and identify positive behavioral models that promote a learning environment for teachers to appropriately instruct, while addressing any behavioral issues and enforcing student discipline.
  • Review the methods and best practices in Texas and other states that encourage more parental and community involvement in the education of Texas children.
  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature.

You can view the full list of House interim charges here. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has issued some specific interim charges for select Senate committees to study issues related to wildfires and drought conditions, but the full slate of Senate interim charges will not be released until later this fall.

Questions? Contact ATPE Governmental Relations.

ATPE members: Subscribe to Essentials
Tell ATPE what you think of Essentials
Join ATPE  |  November 2011  |  © 2011 ATPE

Essentials contains legislative advertising contracted for by Doug Rogers, Executive Director, Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Dr., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792, representing ATPE.

Forward this issue to a friend