The Texas legislature will not meet in regular session again until January 2015, but that does not mean lawmakers will be idle. The presiding officers of the House and Senate soon will give instructions to the committees in their respective chambers to study topics likely to come up in the 2015 session.
Texas AFT already has submitted a batch of proposed study assignments for consideration. Some of the Texas AFT suggestions are listed below.
Be advised that you can submit your own individual suggestions as well, at least on the Texas Senate side. The Senate Democratic Caucus invites you to tell Democratic senators what the Senate ought to be working on. You can visit this Web site to submit your response.
Below are some of the study topics Texas AFT has recommended to both House and Senate:
“Study the affordability of health care for active public school employees. Analyze how premiums and out-of-pocket costs have increased over time and how those increases have affected employees and employing school districts.
“Study the impact on student learning of out-of-school factors—such as disparities in economic well-being, access to health care, access to early childhood education, access to summer activities that reinforce or extend learning. Consider policy responses that address these factors.
“Identify the essential elements of valid, trustworthy educational research regarding policy options. For instance, when do we know enough to say a policy choice is “evidence-based”? Another example: How can we make accurate and effective use of comparative achievement data, including achievement data from other nations with different educational systems?
“Study the effectiveness and efficiency of virtual schools. How does the funding entitlement for virtual schools relate to the cost structure of providing these services?
“Study the effectiveness and efficiency of conventional and alternative programs of teacher recruitment and preparation, including Teach for America, with particular attention to retention rates.
“Study equity of access to the resources needed by school districts to offer the graduation alternatives authorized under HB 5, including endorsements.
“Study average cumulative funding disparities over a 12-year public-school career for students enrolled in Chapter 41 school districts versus those enrolled in Chapter 42 districts. How do such resource disparities correlate with disparities in state academic accountability ratings?
“Study both the short-term and long-term impact of new charter schools on nearby traditional public schools, including issues related to revenue, accountability, curriculum, student services, student performance, and district policies.”