For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) will highlight a noteworthy bill that is currently going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities, or another disability-related issue.
House Bill (HB) 116, relating to improving training and staff development for primary and secondary educators to enable them to more effectively serve all students.
Bill Author: Rep. Mary González, Texas House District 75 (El Paso)
- Rep. Diego Bernal, Texas House District 123 (San Antonio)
- Rep. Jon Rosenthal, Texas House District 135 (Houston)
Where is the bill in the process?
On February 19, HB 116 received a public hearing before the House Committee on Public Education. The bill was left pending, and may be taken up again by the committee at a later date.
What does the bill do?
The bill will establish improved standards on proactive and flexible teaching techniques in order to provide a more inclusive, supportive, and barrier-free educational environment for students with developmental, physical, and intellectual disabilities. Meeting these expectations will be required for all teachers in order to receive their certification.
Among the new requirements for teacher certification will be a demonstration of basic knowledge of each disability category under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how each category can affect student learning and development, as well as competence in the use of proactive instructional planning techniques and evidence-based inclusive instructional practices.
Statement from the bill author, Rep. Mary González:
“Schools are integrating general education and special education classes more and more. While this is happening, we need to ensure that all teachers have the skills, tools, and techniques to be able to serve all students, not just those in general education classes.”
Who supports the bill, and why?
- DRTx: According to Steven Aleman, Attorney and Policy Specialist with Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), “All teachers should be equipped with a better understanding of how to best serve (students with disabilities), for these students deserve the best teacher in front of them to give them the best education they can get.”
- Easterseals: Lisa Flores of Easterseals Central Texas believes that the bill “is crucial in combating the pervasive climate of low-expectations that students with disabilities tend to face. (HB 116) will better empower teachers to have higher expectations of students and will result in better outcomes for students.”
- CTD: Tiffany Williams, TCDD Policy Fellow with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), indicates that “studies conclusively show that more integrated classrooms result in improved learning outcomes for students with and without disabilities. The reason these integrated classrooms aren’t more common is the lack of professional development for teachers – general education teachers are not trained in how to best serve students with special education needs.”
Who opposes the bill, and why?
No opposition to the bill has been determined at this time.
Some supporters believe that a specific reference to dyslexia should be added, to ensure that this population of students is not left out. Additionally, it has been suggested that the Texas Education Agency should be given additional authority to monitor and enforce the educator preparation programs referenced in the bill.
How much will the bill cost?
According to the Legislative Budget Board, no significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
Is there a Senate companion to the bill?
SB 293 by Sen. Eddie Lucio is identical to HB 116. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Education on February 7, but no further action has been taken as of yet.
For the latest information about where HB 116 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.