Texas Legislature Chipping Away At Public Schools

The Texas Legislature has written two pieces of legislation, HB 2543 and SB 893, misguided companion bills that would give the commissioner of education free rein to mandate that local school districts base teacher evaluations largely on student test scores. This legislation also slashes minimum pay for classroom teachers down to a mere $27,540 for every teacher, regardless of experience or advanced degrees.

Teacher appraisal should be based on measures that are proven valid and reliable, confirmed by independent analysis based on empirical evidence. HB 2543 and SB 893 would allow the misuse of standardized tests for evaluation imposed by the commissioner of education statewide, negating local authority to rely on better measures. Promoting this guarantees excessive emphasis on standardized testing at a time when parents and teachers alike increasingly view the current testing obsession destructive to teaching and learning.

It’s difficult to imagine another way to lose high-quality, experienced teachers than to tell them their minimum pay under state law is now reduced to $27,540 a year; yet that is exactly what HB 2543 and SB 893 would do. This devaluation of teaching experience is a serious policy mistake and will deter efforts to recruit and retain the very dedicated and talented individuals we need in our classrooms.

In addition to these two bills, the Senate is scheduled to vote on SB 4 that funds vouchers for private schools. These schools are not held to the same accountability as public schools, and furthermore we should not be diluting public funds for private entities.

The hostility of this legislation towards public education is palpable. The Legislators promoting this travesty wish to erode the very foundation that allowed many of them to reach their current educational status.

Teachers deserve better. Students across Texas deserve better. Texas deserves better.

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