Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 21: Top Priority for Senate Education Committee: Not Student Safety

Today is the 21st day of the 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature. The House will reconvene at 1 PM, the Senate at 1:30.

Senate committee hearings began to be scheduled following Friday's announcement of Committee Assignments. The committees don't have any legislation to consider yet (that should change today as bills begin to be referred to committee), but agendas for the first week have been announced. The Senate Education Committee, which will likely get anti-bullying legislation, has set as its first priority "Flexibility and Mandate Relief" (which is legislative speak for finding ways to let schools work around state regulation). The Senate Education Committee meets for the first time tomorrow, February 1st, at 10 am.

Conservatives, who have long chafed at the power of teachers unions, are using the budget crisis as an excuse to give administrators the power to increase class sizes and force teachers to take unpaid furlough days. Teacher attrition already costs local school districts in Texas over 500 million dollars. Making teaching a less attractive field is a short-sighted solution to the budget crisis, one that, in the end, will cost taxpayers and school children. The proposals being put forward by the right have more to do with the convenience of school administrators (and punishing the teachers unions) than with the quality of education in Texas.

The safety of school children must be made a higher priority. In a recent Equality Texas poll 79.2% of Texas voters said that they supported uniform anti-bullying legislation that protected LGBT kids. With that kind of public mandate it's shocking that the committee isn't making anti-bullying legislation their top priority.

The phone number for the Senate Education Committee is 512-464-0355. If you are part of the 79.2% please call the committee and let them know that you want anti-bullying legislation made a priority.

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