Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Push for More Local Control in Public Education

Lawmakers are working to a public education system allowing for more local control, according to an editorial submitted by State Rep. Mark Shelton to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

In the editorial Rep. Shelton said, "This legislature has a unique opportunity to eliminate unnecessary red tape, cut wasteful spending and provide our educators the flexibility they desperately need to educate our children."

Rep. Shelton specifically highlights House Bill 3 (HB 3) enacted in 2009, which relates to accountability, curriculum and promotion requirements, but notes that additional work must be done to make students the focus of the education system.

According to an article from the Associated Press, the Texas House agreed Thursday to tap into the Rainy Day Fund to help pay some of the state's bills for the remainder of the 2011 budget. Both Democrats and Republicans agreed to use more than $3.1 billion of the Rainy Day Fund, but Democrats pushed to use more of the reserve fund to pay for education and other programs.

It is still unclear what the future of education looks like for the Texas public education system. Jobs for teachers are particularly at risk.

"Teachers will be laid off," said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.

Although this is no surprise by now to teachers in Texas, the extent of the layoffs and the full impact of budget cuts remain yet to be determined.

In the meantime,  continue watching closely Senate Bill 443 (SB 443) and SB 468.

-Kaitlyn Van Gorkom

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