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HB 1605 on instructional materials and technology, a priority of legislative leadership and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, passed overwhelmingly in the Texas House Wednesday after being amended on Tuesday.

Three representatives offered amendments on behalf of TASA, including: Chairman Gary VanDeaver, who offered language that ensures transparency for the state’s use of future IMTA allotments; Rep. Glenn Rogers, who offered language that prohibits tests/exams from being posted on the new parent portal while still making them readily available to view in person; and Rep. James Talarico, who offered language on behalf of TASA and TCTA that removed provisions that referred to teachers as hourly employees, and changed supplemental contracts to supplemental agreements.

More details on the amendments include:

  • Bill author Chairman Brad Buckley added three amendments similar to Senate floor amendments, including one to add an additional section grandfathering Proclamation 2024.
  • Buckley added another amendment to clarify that the two new allotments are additional state aid and not school finance allotments that would reduce recapture. The amendment clarifies that the allotment of $40 per student (or greater amount) would be annual and could be used only for materials that have been reviewed by TEA, placed on an SBOE approval list, designated by the SBOE as capable of being included in the parent portal, and acquired from an entity that has not been found to violate the publisher duties law. The other allotment pays for actual costs (not to exceed $20 per student) only for printing and shipping of TEA’s open education resource materials.
    • Provides that if 50% or more of parents petition for a campus instructional material review, the school board cannot deny the petition.
    • Instead of a once-per-year limit at a campus, the board would not be required to conduct a campus instructional materials review more than once per school year for a specific subject or grade level.
    • Adds that parent access to instructional material provided by a campus instructional material review is in addition to any other right to access instructional material.
    • Allows the SBOE to form an advisory committee to comply with provisions of Chapter 31.
    • If the SBOE plans to revise TEKS, the SBOE shall issue a proclamation requesting the revision of the applicable instructional materials and shall, not later than December 1 of the year preceding the school year for which the revision will take effect, provide districts an updated list of approved materials for the relevant subject or grade level.
    • IMTA funds may not be used to purchase instructional material that contains obscene or harmful content or would otherwise cause the district to be unable to submit the required Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) certification. SBOE may adopt criteria for approval of instructional material that requires the material to not contain obscene or harmful content and otherwise be compatible with CIPA certification. The TEA review and rubric also would determine whether the material contains obscene or harmful content or is otherwise incompatible with CIPA certification. Annual district certification would require, in addition to CIPA compliance, that in providing materials, the district protects students from obscene and harmful content as necessary for compliance with Section 28.0022, Education Code on teaching certain controversial issues (law enacted in SB 3 in 2nd C.S. in 2021); Section 43.22, Penal Code, on obscene display or distribution of material; and “any other law or regulation that protects students from obscene or harmful content.”
    • Takes out parent portal condition that parents cannot share materials and instead provides that conditions could not limit parents from fair use provisions of copyright law.
    • Applies changes related to teacher contracts prospectively to contracts entered on or after the Act’s effective date.
  • Rep. Talarico added an amendment to new Sec. 21.4045 allowing a district to enter into a supplemental agreement with a classroom teacher under which the teacher agrees to perform a duty relating to initial lesson plan design or instruction material selection that is not a duty generally anticipated to be performed during the instructional day and assigned to all classroom teachers of the same subject and grade level under those teachers’ employment contracts. In the bill’s provision regulating teacher contracts on teacher spending planning and preparation time creating or selecting materials to cover TEKS, the amendment clarifies this applies to creating or selecting materials to “initially” cover TEKS for the course unless the teacher has entered a supplemental agreement vs contract. Sec. 21.4045(b) requiring districts to revise contracts to explicitly state each duty unrelated to instruction would apply to a contract entered after Act’s effective date; the language grandfathers existing contracts. Sec. 21.4045 as added by this Act applies beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
  • Another amendment by Rep. Talarico makes TEA advisory committees comply with existing laws that provide for a balance of stakeholder representation.
  • Rep. John Bucy’s amendment replaced language providing immunity for teachers teaching “with fidelity” with immunity if the teacher reasonably believes the instruction conformed to the material.
  • Rep. Steve Toth’s amendment says a district cannot deny a parent access to the parent portal and takes out the provision that a parent who doesn’t agree to the portal terms can be denied.
  • Rep. Rogers’ amendment exempts tests and exams from the parent portal and makes them available for in-person review, requires that publishers submitting materials for review only submit their own materials, and requires commissioner OER license purchases to comply with state procurement law.
  • Rep. Brooks Landgraf’s amendment puts the SBOE over rulemaking for classroom instructional material reviews, requires the commissioner to consult with the SBOE (as well as SBOE approve) the instructional material review process and the rubric used for that process, and give the SBOE authority, instead of TEA, over the standards for publishers to provide parent portals.
  • Chairman VanDeaver’s amendment provides for transparency on the development of the state budget and whether the initial budget levels include 50% of the Available School Fund going into the Instructional Materials and Technology Fund as provided in law.
  • Rep. Gina Hinojosa’s amendment removes new Section 31.0216 that would have allowed the Commissioner to extend existing contracts for instructional materials and technology and would have exempted such contracts from existing law requiring best value.

The engrossed bill now goes to the Senate. More than 100 members voted for the bill, which could allow the bill to take effect immediately. Meanwhile, the engrossed Senate version, SB 2565, has been referred to the House Public Education Committee, awaiting further House action.