Regular sessions of the Texas Legislature convene on the second Tuesday in January of every odd numbered year for 140 days to conduct state business. The state’s budget, on which public education is dependent, is developed for the biennium during these legislative sessions.
2014 TAGT POLICY GOALS (INTERIM)
1. Provide Resources to School Districts Necessary to Support the Effective Implementation of Provision 46 of House Bill 5 as it Relates to G/T Programs
In 2013, the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 5, an extensive education bill that reduces the number of end-of-course tests that students must pass in order to graduate and provides students more opportunities to pursue career and college pathways. Also included in the law is a provision that requires school districts to evaluate and assign a performance rating to eight programs annually, and educational programs for gifted and talented students is one of the areas specifically named in the law. While the process used to evaluate and assign a rating is unknown at this time and will be determined by TEA, it is likely that local school districts will have latitude on how the process is implemented. Therefore, TAGT will establish strategies and resources that will support the effective implementation of this provision at the local level.
2. Restore State Funding to Public Education
In 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature reduced public education spending by $5 billion; therefore, a goal of most education associations, including TAGT, was to see funding restored in the 83rd session. In 2013, Senate Bill 1 did restore $3.4 billion to public education for 2014-2015. However, it will continue to be a goal of TAGT to support the increased funding for education to restore cuts and account for growth.
3. Protect the G/T Weight/Allotment (Funding dedicated for gifted education)
TAGT will continue to advocate for the preservation of the funding specifically dedicated to gifted education for G/T services to remain viable in public schools.
4. Encourage TEA to Collect, Disaggregate and Report Data about Gifted Education Programs
TAGT believes the Texas Education Agency must gather data in a simple and straightforward manner about the gifted and talented programs and services school districts offer. This data should include information regarding academic performance, identification procedures and program evaluation. This is not to evaluate or rank school districts, but to provide data about the services offered as part of districts’ gifted programming. This will create greater transparency for taxpayers and for parents who need the information to make informed decisions about their children’s education.
TAGT SUMMARY OF 2013 LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY
With the guidance of the TAGT Advocacy Committee and approval of the Board, our organization established 2013 Policy Goals for the 83rd Legislative Session. These goals were designed to strengthen programs, services, and funding for gifted and talented education. As a service to members, TAGT is providing this summary of legislation passed during the 2013 Legislative session that supported the Association’s stated goals. Additionally, legislation that will have the greatest impact on gifted and talented programs and services in Texas public schools is outlined by category.
The 2013 Legislative session contained positive news for gifted education; with the passage of House Bill 5 (HB 5) and its subsequent signing into law, the promise of accountability for gifted education has been rekindled (see below for more details on what HB 5 means for gifted education). TAGT played a significant role in ensuring that gifted and talented language was included in HB 5 and is grateful to Representative Phillip Cortez of San Antonio, who was the primary force behind this inclusion. TAGT was ably represented at the Capitol by Policy Consultant Marty De Leon; his efforts were most helpful in securing passage of HB 5, and in keeping gifted education on the minds of legislators.