Two Houston Democrats have filed legislation pushing for more inclusion of ethnic studies in schools. House Bill 45, filed by Rep. Christina Morales, D-Houston, would mandate most public school districts to offer Mexican American and African American studies. Meanwhile, House Bill 368 by Rep. Jarvis Johnson would create an African American studies advisory board within the State Board of Education to expand the teaching of “citizenship, culture, economics, science, technology, geography, and politics as they relate to the history of African Americans.”
Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, has filed a bill that would change how the state funds Texas’ 1,204 public school districts and open-enrollment charters. With House Bill 31, Hinojosa wants to fund schools based on their average enrollment.
Currently, schools are funded on their average daily attendance. The average daily attendance is calculated by the sum of children present divided by days of instruction that schools are required to give. Texas schools have to be open for a minimum of 75,600 minutes over a school year, which includes recess and lunch.
This means if a kid is absent, the school loses that money. Some superintendents have been calling to be funded based on enrollment so they don’t lose money regardless of attendance.
House Bill 338, filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, would require publishers to assign content ratings to books that they want to sell to schools. The scores, which function similar to movie ratings, would place restrictions on which books students can access depending on their age. If the ratings are not deemed proper, the books could be recalled.
The legislation follows a year of rapid book banning in the state. PEN America, a free expression advocacy nonprofit, found that 22 school districts in Texas banned 801 books — the highest number in the country — between July 2021 and June 2022. The bans particularly targeted books focusing on race, abortion and LGBTQ issues. — Brian Lopez and Alex Nguyen