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The House Public Education Committee met Monday, May 15, to hear invited testimony only on a new, 80-page House substitute for CSSB 8, which creates an ESA/voucher program and makes major changes to the assessment/accountability system.

Seven panels presented testimony and took questions from committee members. Those testifying in support of the bill included private school representatives. Those testifying against the bill included: H.D. Chambers, Texas School Alliance; Bobby Ott, Temple ISD superintendent; Benny Soileau, Huffman ISD superintendent representing TAMS, TACS, TARS, and TREA; Michelle Smith, Raise Your Hand Texas; Paige Williams, Texas Classroom Teachers Association; Justin Terry, Forney ISD superintendent; and Keith Bryant, superintendent of Lubbock-Cooper ISD and TASA Legislative Committee chair.

Given the major changes made to the assessment/accountability provisions of the bill over the weekend, Bryant stated TASA’s opposition to ESAs/vouchers but devoted the bulk of his testimony to the assessment-related provisions.

At the conclusion of the hearing the bill was left pending and not voted out of committee.

If CSSB 8 is passed out of committee, it will go to the House floor for consideration. If the full House passes the bill it will go back to the Senate, which is not likely to accept the House’s changes. On Sunday, the governor issued a statement that said the current version of the House bill “does little to provide meaningful school choice” and that “failure to expand the scope of school choice to something close to the Senate version or the original House version of the Senate bill will necessitate special sessions.”