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House bill would support teachers, limit layoffs

By Scott Harvey

Austin – A bill to suspend state mandated testing in order to support at risk teachers during this current budget crisis is filed in the Texas House.

It's the second bill associated with public education submitted this week by State Representative for District 2 Day Flynn.

"Teachers are the core of what works and what is good in the system." said Representative Flynn. However, just over 50% of public school employees are teachers. The other half are layer after layer of bureaucracy. When added to the cost for testing, which can easily go well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in a school district, the costs can be staggering.

Representative Flynn and the Joint Authors of this bill have stated, "That has got to change and this legislation is a step in that direction."

This legislation has been joint authored by other Representatives that are greatly concerned with supporting teachers first, including Representative Warren Chisum, Dennis Bonnen, Wayne Christian and, Bill Zedler.

This bill was crafted by Representative Flynn and the co-authors mentioned above after long conversations with superintendents and teachers from their respective districts. All concerned believe that the first step is to reduce the extraordinary costs of the educational bureaucracy.

"Superintendents are telling us that there are more than a month of testing days in a given year." said Representative Flynn. "This adds enormous costs to the budget and takes away from valuable teaching time."

It is the purpose of this bill to reduce these costs and to ensure they protect teachers that are so vital to our children's futures. The reduction in testing days alone is estimated to free up a substantial amount of funds, funds which can be used more efficiently and effectively by schools.

Under this bill, each child will still be tested in the classroom over their regular studies as normal, but the state mandated testing will be suspended for a period of two years and any funding associated with this testing could be spent supporting teacher jobs and the resources they need.

Under this legislation, Superintendents of Independent School Districts (ISD),with concurrence from the ISD School Board, not the state, are authorized to suspend all state mandated testing and assessments for a period ending September 30, 2013.

In addition, Superintendents may apply funds or appropriations originally intended for this testing to the retention of teachers or positions with direct student contact and involvement or consumable resources requested for classroom instruction. Funding for an Independent School District would not be contingent upon the decision to administer or not administer this change in law.