Under legislation prioritized by House Speaker Dade Phelan, every Texas school would have an armed officer, and would-be teachers would receive additional support.
Late Wednesday, Phelan highlighted bills addressing campus safety and strengthening the teacher pipeline. In this legislative session, the first since 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, lawmakers promised to prioritize school security.
The Robb Elementary School shooting will loom large over the proceedings. According to a news release, the bill requiring at least one armed security officer on every campus would also allocate $15,000 in base funding annually per school for safety measures.
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Dustin Burrows, a Republican from Lubbock, introduced the legislation. Some Republicans believe that hardening schools, such as through facility upgrades and arming teachers, could be a viable solution to making schools safer after Uvalde. 376 officers responded to Robb Elementary on the day of Texas’ deadliest school shooting.
Some child advocates, however, have expressed concern about adding more officers to schools, claiming that such actions could harm students. Furthermore, officials have identified staffing shortages among police ranks as a challenge.
On May 26, 2022, Piers Morgan shared the news on Twitter telling about how an armed police officer was assigned to a texas school. You can see the Tweet below.
BREAKING: Texas public safety official tells CNN an armed police officer was assigned at the Texas school, and two more arrived as the shooter entered. So there were three armed cops there before he shot any of the children – and they still weren’t able to stop him.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 26, 2022
Meanwhile, another priority bill would increase the amount of money given to schools to cover security costs. Following the shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018, the Legislature established a new per-student safety allotment. Since then, district leaders have stated that the money allotted — roughly $10 per student — does not go very far.
Dallas Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde, for example, has stated that her district would like to spend around $200 per student to keep them safe.
Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, proposed increasing the allotment to $100 per student. The proposal would also increase funding for mental health resources, which educators say are needed to assist students who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
Repairing The Texas Teacher Pipeline
Another priority for the House is to improve teacher recruitment and retention. Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, introduced legislation to restructure the minimum wage in a way that “results in increased pay by recognizing the various pathways related to the profession.”
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It would create a new grant to assist teachers pursuing special education or bilingual credentials, which are in high demand. The bill would also increase funding for educator mentoring, allowing more teachers to receive assistance earlier in their careers. These suggestions are similar to those made recently by the state’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the state’s current minimum salary schedule for a 10-month contract is $33,660.At least one legislator wants to increase teacher pay by $15,000 across the board. So far, Phelan’s legislative priorities do not include “school choice” or voucher-like initiatives.
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