The House Public Education Committee began its hearings on the progress of implementing HB 5 on March 26. Bobby Rigues (Aledo ISD), Rick Lambert (Garland ISD) and I took the opportunity to attend the hearing, and we were privileged to have an opportunity to interview Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, to get his personal perspectives on progress being made and the challenges that remain.
Specifically, we wanted to understand his views on Community and Student Engagement, how well we’re doing and the value of this effort. Chairman Aycock shared with us his belief that it seems to be working and he cited testimony before his committee as evidence of this. He reiterated his belief regarding the importance of communities engaging in the discussions about their student’s education.
At the same time, the Chairman acknowledged what he sees as some of the challenges surrounding implementation, including resources for counselors and other staff members, and indicating that funding will be the responsibility of the legislature and the local communities. He also mentioned the challenge of getting students and staff in place at the right spot and the right time since all of this is “coming at them pretty quickly”.
In a prior blog, we identified the fact that HB 5 addresses three primary elements, curriculum, assessment and accountability. When we first spoke with him late last year, Chairman Aycock indicated that it was critical that all three of these be coupled together and that each could not stand on their own. In last week’s discussion, he reaffirmed that these must be looked at as a whole, not just looking at one test on one day. In short, it is but one element of understanding how well public education is doing. But he also acknowledged that finding measurable attributes for community and student engagement has been a challenge.
We talked with the Chairman about partnerships and he expressed that it is imperative that districts develop partnerships not just with higher education, but also with employers, and developing an understanding of the needs of the local communities we serve. It is his hope that local boards will reach out to their community to better understand the workforce requirements and to form partnerships that fulfill the requirements of these jobs.
In closing, Chairman Aycock expressed to Bobby, Rick and me the importance of engaging with the community to develop partnerships with parents, educators, industry and students. It’s critical that school board members step up to communicate the importance of aligning community and business requirements with the capabilities offered by the districts.
We thank Chairman Aycock for taking time from his committee hearing to meet with us and to share his perspectives on the progress being made in implementing House Bill 5, legislation that he sponsored and championed as it was passed and ultimately signed into law by the Governor.