Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Merits of House Bill 5

When I started my blog in February, 2014, I did so in an effort to share information with school board trustees about the importance of House Bill 5 and how that legislation would positively impact students across the State of Texas.  Since the legislation was passed in to law and signed by Governor Perry in June, 2013, much progress has been made toward providing enhanced opportunities for students.  But there are still those who challenge the legislation and whether it is effective.

In a recent editorial, the Austin America- Statesman criticized the overall impact of the legislation, initially stating that there had been minimal impact on students and that it had fallen short of the goal of increased college readiness for 2014 and 2015 graduates.  That message struck a chord with some, specifically Alief Superintendent HD Chambers, a strong proponent of the legislation.   In a response published in the American-Statesman on April 11, found here, Mr. Chambers and Joe Arnold, senior government affairs manager for BASF Corp., documented the successes achieved and the positive outlook for Texas public education. 

One of the key tenets of HB 5 was an acknowledgment that not all students will choose to pursue a four year college degree.  The carefully drafted legislation, with significant input from Mr. Chambers, recognized this and established a number of different programs that provide opportunities for students to become career ready as opposed to focusing only on college readiness.  What is important about this legislation is that it acknowledged the need for some post-secondary education in order to create a platform for personal success. 

The first class that will go through high school under HB 5 will be the class of 2018 so it is truly too early to draw definitive conclusions about the impact.  As a former school board trustee and now president of Make Education a Priority, a public education advocacy organization, I have already seen the impact in areas of community engagement and the rapid adoption by districts of multiple endorsements within the district, many of which are grounded in partnerships with businesses and institutions of higher education.

HB 5 has the potential to change the landscape of career and college readiness.  With continued support from administrators in how they implement it, a strong community engagement element that involves all stakeholders, and commitments from businesses and institutions of higher education, achieving this potential is well underway.  The winners are the nearly 5.3 million students in Texas public education who fuel the ongoing need to Make Education a Priority.

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