A lot going on in Austin right now relating to education. Several bills have already been filed that could affect how school boards govern. I’ll write a post on those soon. Also, be sure to voice your support on social media for Rep. Eric Johnson’s pre-K bill, HB 1100, which will be discussed in the Public Education Committee tomorrow. But today a very DISD-specific bill was filed by Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Funkytown). I’ll have a breakdown of it on Learning Curve when I write about all the ed bills out there, but here’s what you need to know: It’s awesome, and it would dramatically help DISD’s governance problem.
The deets: This bill (HB 2579) affects school districts larger than 125k students and smaller than 200k students — i.e., Dallas ISD only. It calls for the school board to put to voters several changes (six of which were discussed on Learning Curve in this series of posts). The bill would allow or require:
- Adding a student trustee to the DISD school board.
- Implementing strict rules governing a redistricting commission for DISD. This one is very much like the suggestion Anchia’s commission suggested for the city, one in which the trustees themselves can’t stock it with flunkies who will do their bidding. It’s important and needed and it will encounter much resistance from the status quo types.
- Pay for trustees equal to the median income of district teachers. This of course I endorse, given my suggestion for council pay of $100k, and it was recently promoted by Clay Jenkins, among others.
- Changing the terms of office from three years to four years, so that the we can begin …
- Holding elections in November, when more parents vote, rather than in May.
- The ability to start the school year before the fourth Monday in August, which the state currently forbids.
- Requiring a 2/3 supermajority (instead of a simple majority) to fire the superintendent.
If you want a deep dive on the six items that mirror my Learning Curve posts, they’re all linked on the post I mentioned above. The other item, the pay portion, is just good common sense, needed in large urban school districts like this one, where no-pay rules are a hindrance to good people running for the school board.
I sense these will BREEZE through with UNANIMOUS local support, because one of the primary status quo opposition positions to Home Rule was that the law was arbitrary and unnecessary, and that these were matters best handled at the state level. Consider them handled.