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Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB925, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($29,743,840) through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
Local Government Impact
School districts could incur additional costs in the form of contributions to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Trust Account for teachers attending the academies since the stipend authorized by the bill would be considered creditable compensation. School districts could also incur costs for substitute teachers while teachers attend the literacy achievement academies. Costs would vary among districts.
In Texas we hold teachers in high regard and we hold them to high standards. We expect our children be well-taught by highly qualified professionals who are fully capable of skillfully teaching their subject matter at the grade level they are assigned. We expect that in grades K-5, educators are adeptly teaching the fundamental building blocks of reading, writing, and arithmetic which lay the foundation for all future education. We expect that by the time our children enter 6th grade they do so at grade level achievement or above.
This legislation is predicated on the idea that our teachers, and consequently our students, are not meeting those standards; that failure to teach Texas students these basic skills is unacceptable; and that a substantial remedial education program is urgently required to bring our teachers up to the qualification level necessary to teach these basic subjects. These are the factors that must be in play for this legislation to be necessary.
Setting aside for a moment that teachers should enter the profession qualified and prepared to teach basic grade school subjects before entering the classroom, we acknowledge that if this is the current state of affairs something must be done to ensure that our K-5 students get the educational foundation they deserve.
The long term solution is twofold. First, we must allow competition in the public education marketplace through the adoption of market based programs that allow parents to send their children to the school of their choice. Second, we must improve teacher certification programs to ensure that teachers enter the profession with the requisite qualifications to adequately teach their subject matter.
In the meantime, the quickest temporary solution is likely the remedial teacher education proposed by this legislation. Simply put, we must teach our teachers how to teach.
Even so, this legislation must be amended to address the lack of accountability for outcomes.
1. The bill should be amended to require a two year longitudinal study in order to determine if, after teachers go through this training, there are any measurable improvements in student achievement in reading.
2. The bill should also be amended to put the program under sunset review so that we do not create a permanent program that achieves no measurable results.
Absent these transparency and accountability-minded amendments, the legislature should reject this bill as another big-government solution insufficient to achieve its own aims.
Going forward, policymakers must address two key issues that have created the problem this bill seeks to address; the lack of appropriate training before teachers enter the classroom, and the lack of choice in education which relegates most Texas children to the school associated with their zip code. Failure to address these issues will result in the continuing failure to teach basic foundational subjects to our K-5 students.