Via Amanda List Last week, the Texas Senate and Texas House both held their first hearings about the Uvalde school shooting. Here are those and the rest of your updates from last week.
Texas Senate & House Hold First Hearings About Uvalde Shooting
The Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans, chaired by Sen. Nichols held hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. At the hearings, Commissioner Morath promised that TEA will review external entry points of every school in Texas, evaluate school facilities to determine what repairs may be needed to secure campuses, and review each district’s safety protocols. Morath said the agency’s plan should be completed by the end of the summer. Tuesday’s Senate hearing was the Legislature’s first public hearing about the shooting.
In the House, the three-person committee investigating the shooting has been privately gathering testimony over the past two weeks. On Thursday, the first joint hearing by the House committees on Homeland Security and Public Safety and Youth Health and Safety was held to review the implementation and impact of Senate Bill 11 (school safety legislation passed in 2019) among other things. The hearing featured testimony by the families of the victims and experts, including a group representing the Texas Police Chiefs Association.
TEA & State Updates
- TEA announced that 3rd-8th grade STAAR results would be released at the end of this week. Initially, TEA planned to make results available to parents and students on June 24 (last Friday), but there’s been a delay. The agency said that due to the impact of COVID-19, the results need additional analyses and that this is part of their due diligence process.
- The Strong Foundations Math and Literacy Framework Development Grant application is now open for LEAs, including districts and open-enrollment charter schools. The grant provides technical assistance to support a comprehensive collective learning experience with leaders and staff across the LEA, focused on the TEKS and what research says about how students learn reading and math. This opportunity has two Summer Application deadline options July 29, 2022, and August 26, 2022.
DOE & National Updates
- In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the DOE released for public comment proposed changes to the regulations that help elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities implement this legislation. The Department’s proposed Title IX regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days. Additional information on the proposed rule, including a summary with background information and a fact sheet, is available here. The unofficial version of the proposed rule is available here.
- Republican lawmakers introduced twin bills called The Educational Choice for Children Act for consideration before the midterm elections. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) in the House of Representatives and by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the Senate, and has several high-profile co-sponsors. It would establish a $10 billion federal tax credit program to encourage donations to organizations that award scholarships, which would subsequently be used to pay for costs associated with both public and private K–12 education.
- In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from their school choice voucher program which provides funds for students to attend public or private schools.
- Congress passed their bipartisan gun legislation last week in response to the shooting in Uvalde. The Safer Communities Act now heads to President Biden to sign. Aside from the $300m for school security, it offers $1bn for many different efforts to “support safe and healthy students,” $1bn for school-based mental health support, $240m to train school staff to notice and address student mental health challenges, and $50m for summer and after-school programs for middle and high school students.
- Congress also reached a deal to extend the use of child nutrition waivers through the summer and upcoming 2022-23 school year. The Keep Kids Fed Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
Articles of Interest
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