Editorial

19 September 2022

Capitol Update: House Interim Charge – Public Education

With the start of the Fall season right around the corner, we welcome the return of cooler weather and a few of my favorite traditions. Whether attending a local county fair, cheering on the hometown football team under the Friday night lights, or making your way back out to the field for an afternoon dove hunt, I hope you and your family will take advantage of this special season and give thanks to God for the opportunity to live in a state where we cherish the blessings that make the Fall season in Texas so special.

With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .

House Interim Charge: Public Education

Our next interim committee to examine is the House Committee on Public Education. This 13-member committee has jurisdiction over the programming, financing, and overall supervision of our public schools in Texas. Additionally, this committee has purview over several agencies, including the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency. With an extensive list of interim charges, the House Committee on Public Education has been hard at work examining the relevant legislation passed during the most recent legislative session and evaluating the impact these policies will have on teachers and students.

Throughout the interim, committee members have been charged with identifying ways to improve the role that parents play in their child’s education. One specific area is having the Committee examine ways to enhance collaboration between school board members, administrators, and parents.  As a former school board member, I know how valuable parental engagement can be in formulating decisions on what’s best for our students.  I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from the members of this Committee on this topic.

While there are several charges related to the effects of the pandemic, perhaps the most pressing issue the House Committee on Public Education will examine is the current teacher shortage. Speaker Phelan has asked members of the Committee to evaluate the current teacher workforce and study practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Given the impact our teachers have on educating our future workforce and leaders, I believe the Legislature should make supporting our educators, who work tirelessly to serve our students, a top priority during the upcoming session. As I often say, “if we don’t get public education right, nothing else matters.”

Additionally, the Committee will examine the learning loss associated with the pandemic and monitor the implementation of state and local plans to address student achievement gaps. Importantly, the Committee will also consider how the policies enacted last session to address learning loss are working. Members will identify best practices that strike a balance to provide additional support to students without overburdening classroom teachers. And, last but certainly not least, members will evaluate student mental health, including the availability and workload of mental health professionals across the state and their role in the public school system.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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