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HB 5 and Public Education

April 3, 2013

Last week we voted out House Bill 5, a bill making major popular reforms to public education. Over the past few weeks my office has received dozens of calls and letters supporting the bill and after exploring its details, I understand why. The bill takes care of three major areas of concern: excessive standardized testing, school accountability, and flexibility in graduation plans.

First and most importantly, House Bill 5 reduces the number of standardized end-of-course exams and lessens the emphasis on standardized testing. It is my belief that standardized testing has gotten out-of-control. What started as a program designed to ensure that students weren’t left behind has resulted in a one-size-fits-all dumbed-down approach that forces teachers to teach to the test and wastes students’ time.

Second, the bill changes how schools are graded on their performance. The bill does away with the old system of rankings (Exemplary, Recommended, Acceptable, and Unacceptable) and institutes a simple A, B, C, D, and F ranking for schools on an overall basis and in individual categories of student achievement and fiscal management. I believe this system will better inform parents and taxpayers about the quality of the schools in their neighborhoods.

Third, House Bill 5 will allow more flexibility in graduation plans so students can puruse a graduation track that fits their life plans. As I was on the campaign trail and as I have continued to speak with constituents since being sworn in as State Representative, I have heard parents complain about how schools overemphasize college and put college forward as the only path to success. As an entrepreneur who built my business through hard work, I agree whole-hearedly. We must allow students the flexibility to study topics in which they are interested. The new graduation plans contained in House Bill 5 will give students and parents more control over their education, particularly by allowing for more career and technology oriented courses. These are long-needed changes that I am confident will help shape many young Texans’ lives for the better.

While it was exciting to make much-needed changes to public education, we have so far fallen short in taking care of our teachers. So far we have not done enough to financially secure our obligations to the Teacher Retirement System. But I am hopeful that tomorrow a group of conservative colleagues and I will be successful in our efforts to protect teachers and cut wasteful government programs.