This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I would be remiss if I didn’t start this column by expressing my sincere gratitude for the dedicated service our teachers provide to our students. While every week should be teacher week, I hope you will take time in the coming days to hug the neck of a teacher who has made a positive impact on you or a member of your family. God bless our teachers for their selfless devotion to our students and our state.

With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol. . .

Legislative Update: With the school year wrapping up, teachers and students from around the state will cap off the year by taking the dreaded STAAR Test. One of the most common complaints I receive from teachers, administrators, and parents is the high-stakes nature of this assessment. School districts and students are often penalized for underperforming on the test, which studies have shown to be an ineffective barometer of student achievement. While I would be in favor of doing away with highstakes testing altogether, the Texas House recently passed legislation that would greatly reduce the number of standardized tests, as well as remove the requirement for a student to pass the STAAR for grade promotion. It’s past time that we remove the burden of a looming test date, and instead focus on increased classroom resources to allow our teachers to teach their students with more focused instruction to ensure their success in and beyond grade school.

I also want to provide you with an update on some of the legislation I’ve filed this session. I’m pleased to report that all of my bills have made significant progress over the last several weeks, with several reaching the Governor’s desk for final approval. One I’d like to highlight, House Bill 3217, will allow institutions of higher education to offer a bachelor’s degree in education, and eliminates the 18 semester credit hour cap on the amount of education courses allowed for a degree. This bill will ensure that students interested in pursuing the teaching profession will have the opportunity to take more courses to better prepare them for the classroom. Another bill awaiting the Governor’s approval, House Bill 1066, will help cut red tape in the groundwater permitting process by aligning operating permits with production permits, which will help create a more sustainable framework for landowners and groundwater districts to manage resources.

Reminders: The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: May 15th from 9am – 11:00am at the Houston County Courthouse in Crockett or from 1:30pm – 3:30pm at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton. You can also come see us on May 22nd from 9am – 11am at the San Augustine Courthouse in San Augustine.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.