On Monday, the Texas House of Representatives is set to vote on HB 3979, which would tell teachers what they can and cannot teach in the classroom when it comes to civics instruction. It would require that when social studies, history, and government teachers discuss contentious subjects like racism, lynching, and slavery, the discussions must not give "deference to any one perspective." In other words, teachers would have to say there were "fine people on both sides" of issues like the Holocaust and Jim Crow.
Sound crazy? That's not all.
HB 3979 would discourage discussion of contemporary issues, such as the Capitol insurrection and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It would prohibit teachers from encouraging civic engagement, such as writing letters to elected representatives. It would also prohibit teachers from discussing issues such as systemic racism.
Who would enforce these rules? What are the consequences?
Please join me in urging the Texas House to OPPOSE HB 3979!
Click here to find out "Who represents me?" and Teach the Vote
Call, e-mail, or tweet at your state representative TODAY and ask them to stop this hateful bill!
Developing curriculum standards is the job of teachers and the State Board of Education, not the Texas Legislature. We should entrust our teachers to do what they are trained to do: TEACH. And we should let them do it without politicians breathing down their necks.
Please join me in helping defeat HB 3979.
El Paso – Texas State Board of Education Member Georgina Pérez (D-El Paso) joins members of the Texas Legislature in urging the legislature pass House Bill 392 by Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D-Garland), otherwise known as the CROWN Act.
The CROWN Act stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair and would prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair texture or protective hair style associated with race.
"As Texans, our diversity is a source of both beauty and strength," said Pérez. "Every student and every employee should be proud to wear their hair in a way that serves both practical purposes as well as a symbol of cultural identity. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of the CROWN Act to end discrimination based on natural hair."
HB 392 has been introduced and referred to the House Committee on State Affairs and has yet to receive a hearing. Pérez urges the committee to swiftly consider the bill before the deadline for hearing House bills in committee.
CALL TO ACTION: TXSBOE does not support a supermajority requirement for our existing authority to veto approval of a new open-enrollment charter school.
SB 28, may be heard as early as tomorrow on the Senate Floor.
Call your Senator today! Texas Senate Members
The Texas State Board of Education does not support a supermajority requirement for the SBOE's existing authority to veto approval of a new open-enrollment charter school.
A supermajority requirement disenfranchises a majority of Texas voters.
The SBOE is the only elected body with any oversight regarding the approval of new charter school chains, schools which will cost Texas $8.5 billion in state revenue in the next two years. A supermajority requirement allows a small group on the board to control the lucrative award to a private entity of what is essentially creating an entirely new school district in this state. Limiting the fifteen elected members – a body representative of Texas's very diversity – to decide by supermajority vote would exacerbate our children's educational segregation and disenfranchisement.
The SBOE believes it is imperative that its veto authority be expanded to include charter expansion amendments, which account for the vast majority of charter growth. Providing that the veto is expanded in this way, the board would be open to consideration of the following general limitations on veto authority.
The Texas State Board of Education voted in its legislative agenda to request veto powers over charter expansion amendments in 2020. The TXSBOE has made no agreements to limit its existing authority to veto new charter applicants.
Please see the proposal sent to the Lt. Governor's office, to follow. We offered a proposal of limits of reasons for vetoes of initial charters - only if veto authority is granted for charter expansion amendments, but we did not agree to a supermajority limitation. I therefore respectfully urge you to oppose SB28.
These considerations, focused on students' and taxpayers' best interests, will give charter applicants and existing charter school operators clearer information about the metrics for consideration of requests to establish or expand a charter school. Transparency and public review, and input on these requests, will provide the public with the assurances that charter schools in Texas provide the student equity and educational quality that our students deserve.
The State Board of Education veto of an open-enrollment charter school application or amendment request will be limited to the following considerations to ensure student equity, academic performance, financial responsibility, and ethical transparency:
TRANSPARENCY AND ETHICS
As a little girl living out of a duffel bag, schools were one of the few stable environments I could rely on.
When I got older, the fact that there were other displaced kids just like me out there drove me to work my way from the maquiladoras and night classes to my first job in a classroom.
After a decade of working with El Paso’s highest-risk students, I was proud to be chosen by our community to fight for our schools on the Texas State Board of Education.
One of the things I quickly realized is that the rapid expansion of charter schools is slowly defunding our critical neighborhood public schools. Charters are schools that are funded by taxpayers like you and me but run by private businesses — often sending our tax dollars to states like California, Florida, and New York.
As an educator, I have always prioritized the students who face the most significant challenges. I’ve taught students with special needs, gang members, and kids experiencing homelessness. These are the students who charters don’t want in their buildings.
The truth is that students in public schools are protected by decades of state and federal laws that guarantee their right to a free and appropriate education. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires public schools to provide, free of charge, any services required by a special education student under their individualized education plan.
Many people don’t realize that those protections go away the minute a child walks in the front door of a charter school. But that hasn’t stopped charters from trying to lure students with special needs through misleading marketing and empty promises – hoping that parents won’t read the fine print.
So who exactly is benefiting?
Texans spend a staggering $3.1 billion per year subsidizing unaccountable charter schools, and all our taxpayer money is making charter owners rich. Just look at the recent headlines about the state’s largest charter chain, IDEA Public Schools, spending millions on a private jet and a luxury suite to watch the San Antonio Spurs.
Currently, the Texas State Board of Education is the only check voters have against new charter chains’ approval. This past year, my colleagues and I vetoed the creation of three newly proposed charter chains that would have drawn millions more tax dollars away from our neighborhood schools.
Charter lobbyists are already funding efforts in the Texas Legislature this session to remove that veto authority, which would eliminate the only say Texas voters and taxpayers have in the process.
Meanwhile, voters have no say in the expansion of existing charter chains like IDEA – which are popping up new franchises all over the state to compete for funding with our neighborhood schools.
Legislators must not be distracted by charter lobbyists trying to ban Texans from having a say over where our tax dollars go. The Texas Legislature must instead protect taxpayers by preserving SBOE oversight and expanding the authority of the SBOE to approve or reject charter expansions.
Voters must have a say when we’re footing the bill, especially when charters are drawing that money away from our community schools to fund their dishonest marketing efforts targeting our most vulnerable students.
State Leadership Announces Funding For Texas School Systems To Support In-Person Instruction
Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced today that the State of Texas will provide a "hold harmless" to Texas school systems for the rest of the 2020-2021 academic school year only. This means funding will be made available to school systems in Texas that have seen enrollment and attendance declines because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they maintain or increase current levels of on-campus attendance. Read more
Georgina C. Pérez