Via Amanda List “It’s hard to believe, but April is already here. Bluebonnets are in full bloom and the sunshine is (hopefully) coming in abundance. Here are your Texas Charter updates from last week!”

Virtual Ed Commission Meeting Recap

Last Wednesday, the Texas Commission on Virtual Education (TCVE) held its second meeting. The focus was on innovative practitioners from within the state and included testimony from Guthrie CSD, Lewisville ISD, Great Hearts Online, Dallas ISD, Texas Tech University, Dr. Danny Lovett (ESC Region 5), and John Watson of the Digital Learning Collaborative. They discussed the unique characteristics of supplemental programs, hybrid schools, and full-time virtual schools, including what current laws provide funding for each.

Key Takeaways
  • Two of the groups invited to testify included students who spoke about why they like the flexibility provided by virtual options. Guthrie CSD senior Coulter Reel shared that she’ll graduate high school with enough credits for an associate’s degree thanks to online access to virtual courses.
  • Every group noted how much their teachers love teaching in virtual ed models and noted it could keep many who might otherwise leave, in the profession.
  • A few members of the Commission inquired about what kind of funding is best for these innovative models, and there seemed to be an openness to exploring unique funding methods.

For recordings of the meetings and to follow TCVE, go here.

TEA & State Updates

  • Governor Greg Abbott and TEA announced that school districts in Texas may be eligible for an adjustment in operational minutes requirements for certain attendance reporting periods during the 2021-2022 academic school year. This means funding will be made available to school systems in Texas that have experienced attendance rate declines because of the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, given an emphasis on in-person instruction. This adjustment would apply to the first four reporting periods of the current school year. Full press release here.
  • TEA is inviting comment on the proposed minimum standards for bullying prevention policies and procedures. The proposed minimum standards are available on the TEA Student Discipline webpage. Public comments will be accepted April 1 through April 30, 2022, and should be submitted to StudentDisciplineSupport@tea.texas.gov with the subject line, “Minimum Standards Public Comment.”
  • ESSER Annual Performance Reporting update: The online system for LEAs to complete this reporting requirement will now close on Monday, April 18, 2022. For help, Visit the TEA ESSER Program page and access recorded trainings and videos on the Grant Compliance and Administration Playlist on the TEA YouTube Channel.
  • Part 1 of the CCMR tracker was released last week. The CCMR Tracker is a tracking tool within the TEA Login (TEAL) Accountability application. This tool provides districts with an early preview of CCMR status for students who were in grades 9-12 during the 2021–22 school year. The CCMR Tracker does NOT contain results from the 2021–22 school year as those data have yet to be reported.

DOE & National Updates

    • The Biden Administration is proposing changes that would make it harder for charter schools to get start-up grants from the federal government. While many charter school supporters welcomed the tougher restrictions placed on for-profit charters, they remained concerned that some parts of the proposal would make it difficult for nonprofit charters to qualify for grant funding. More here.
    • The Biden Administration also unveiled their proposed 2023 Department of Education discretionary budget calling for an increase to $88.3bn, including a $1 billion investment to increase the number of counselors, nurses, school psychologists, social workers, and other health professionals in schools.
    • In a letter last week, Education Secretary Cardona urged schools to protect students with disabilities saying, “To meet the requirements of federal disability rights laws, for example, schools may require teachers and peers to mask around higher-risk students, even if there isn’t a school-wide requirement to do so. As we enter this next phase of pandemic response, we urge schools to lead with equity and inclusion to ensure all students have access to in-person learning alongside their peers.”
Texas Fact of the Week

In the 1950s, archaeologists found some of the oldest human remains and tools just 6 miles southwest of Midland, now called the Midland Site. They found a fossilized skull and point used for hunting believed to be in existence long before the Apache and Nde’isdzan, dated back to 11,000 years old or around the Ice Age. Marfa Public Radio has more on the Midland Site and the rest of the Llano Estacado here. 

Important Dates

  • April 5-8 – SBOE scheduled regular meeting
  • Wednesday, April 27 – Texas Commission on Virtual Ed meeting
  • Friday, April 29 – SBEC meeting

Articles of Interest

Check out more and Subscribe to Amanda List TX Legislative Updates here. 

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