Today, August 30th, the Texas House Public Education Committee will hold a hearing on mask mandates. Two school mask-centered bills are up for public discussion. HB 164 (Dutton) would give school districts the flexibility they need to follow public health recommendations and require masks when needed. HB 141 (Leach et al.) would do the opposite and prohibit schools from requiring masks.

The research is clear. Students learn better in person and until all Texans are eligible for the vaccine, school districts should have all the public health tools they need to keep their doors open and keep families healthy. CHILDREN AT RISK is registered in support of HB 164 and in opposition to HB 141.

Submit a public comment in support of HB 164 HERE. Tune in to the hearing live stream at 4:00 PM HERE

HB 233 (Huberty) is also on today’s committee hearing schedule. HB 233 makes a few key changes to HB 4545 (Dutton) which passed this past regular session. The bill addresses accelerated instruction for public school students who fall behind according to state assessments. Among other changes, HB 233 would limit the assessments that trigger accelerated instruction to reading and math, and change the ratio cap for small-group accelerated instruction from 3 to 10 students.

Last week, was also action-heavy on the public education front. The CHILDREN AT RISK advocacy team was in Austin to meet with legislators and participate in Tuesday’s House Public Education Hearing.

CHILDREN AT RISK registered in opposition to HB 28 (Toth I Metcalf I White), the controversial bill that removes requirements that students learn about diverse communities, imposes a major administrative burden on teachers, and promotes a chilling effect on instruction and discussion. This bill would pose a threat to educational equity.

CHILDREN AT RISK and 25 other Texas organizations submitted joint testimony against HB 28 and similar legislation. Read the Letter HERE.

CHILDREN AT RISK registered in support of SB 9 (Huffman|West) and provided written and oral testimony. SB 9 requires schools to educate students on dating violence, family violence, and child abuse. Many child victims of sex trafficking are victimized by those who are close to them, such as family members or those posing as romantic partners. Traffickers seek out those children who are most vulnerable, and schools are an invaluable support and touchpoint for those children.

This bill is an important first step in providing children with the healthy relationship training they need to recognize grooming, coercion, and abuse. This preventative curriculum would empower children to recognize abusive and unhealthy relationships and make an outcry.

Read our bill factsheet HERE.

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