On November 20, the State Board of Education (SBOE) made some headway in recognizing the need for a broader sex education curriculum when it voted to include education on contraceptive use and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as part of new health standards for middle and high schools. . These entries are a major step forward and away from the SBOE’s previous approach to sex education, which focused so much on abstinence alone.
However, the SBOE vote failed to recognize the health needs of Texas students who identify as LGBTQIA+. In addition, the Republican majority in the SBOE voted against including in the sex education curriculum any changes that would teach students consent in relationships and how this is critical to everyone’s well-being and safety.
In science curricula, the SBOE successfully voted on a measure requiring high school science courses to “recognize” Man-made climate change. While this is a positive plus, acknowledgment is not enough. Acknowledgment of something real does not translate into changes in materialistic curricula that teach the importance of the topic. Enough SBOE members have once again chosen to give in to right-wing rhetoric against climate change.
Earlier that week on November 17, Education Commissioner Mike Morath told board members that TEA had not issued any guidance to teachers to help interpret SB 3, the classroom oversight law that went into effect yesterday. SB 3, along with the previously passed HB 3979, implements curricular restrictions on race in social studies courses, and imposes new requirements for civics instruction.
The SBOE has also been submitted to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) proposal to delete rules that currently require charter schools to enroll students only within the approved geographical boundaries authorized in the charter school charter agreement. Currently, geographic boundaries are approved by the TEA and the State Board of Education (SBOE) as part of the charter approval process.
The proposed change would allow charter schools to misrepresent those they serve without facing any consequences. Texas charter schools have a history of marketing to some student demographics that are less expensive to teach, and often to the exclusion of special education and bilingual learners. Changing this rule means that charters can exacerbate charter profiteering by marketing enrollment to children who don’t live anywhere near their schools.
This proposed rule change will have significant implications for charter school policy and public school funding in Texas. Texas AFT has joined other educational organizations—such as the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Texas Association of School Boards, and Raise Your Hand Texas—to oppose the rule changes. You can view the letter to SBOE regarding this issue here.