SBOE To Consider Instructional Materials Standards

School classroom | Image by maroke

Several important decisions will be made at an upcoming special meeting of the Texas State Board of Education on Wednesday.

Board members will convene at 9 a.m. in Austin to consider and vote on advancing a number of policy frameworks after being empowered by HB 1605, a sweeping education bill passed by the Texas Legislature and enacted this year, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Under the new state law, the State Board of Education (SBOE) is responsible for approving an instructional materials review process, in which criteria will be established to update Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards, determine what is and is not appropriate subject matter for each grade level, maintain compliance with state laws, and empower parents with regards to instructional materials.

The SBOE is set to consider and potentially act on five items at its Wednesday meeting.

First, according to the meeting’s agenda, the board will hear a first reading of an overarching Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) framework, which includes the establishment of a publisher parent portal where parents can review their children’s textbooks.

The second item allots SBOE members time to “consider for approval the initial set of quality rubrics for the [IMRA] process.”

Third, SBOE members will have the opportunity to “consider for approval the suitability criteria and rubric for the [IMRA] process. This rubric will define the criteria to be used in the instructional materials review and approval process to determine suitability and appropriateness of instructional materials for the subject and grade level for which the materials are designed.”

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, SBOE chair Keven Ellis received some criticism from political consultant Aaron Harris over his proposed suitability rubric, which is allegedly only one page long.

Harris suggested that the support Ellis garners from teachers unions may be influencing his policy positions and putting him at odds with Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed him to the chairmanship.

“Keven and his friends are trying to push a one-page rubric that achieves absolutely nothing … [while] others are wanting a more robust, meaningful rubric. And so we’ll see if the teachers unions and Keven prevail or a … conservative rubric prevails,” Harris told The Dallas Express.

The fourth item will give SBOE members the opportunity to “consider for approval the process and procedure for the new [IMRA] process.”

Last on the agenda for SBOE members is a chance to “adopt standards for school library collection development that a school district is required to adhere to in developing or implementing the district’s library collection development policies.”

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