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Monday, October 3, 2022
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New Non-Profit Targets Texas Education Reform

Education, Featured

Teacher speaking to a parent and student. | Image by SDI Productions

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A new nonprofit, Texans for Excellence in Education (TEE), is advocating for education policy that the organization believes is both transparent and ethical.

Per its website, the non-partisan TEE “is committed to delivering all children in Texas a high-quality education focused on the core competencies of math, science, reading, and writing.”

In an email to The Dallas Express, Aaron Harris, public affairs manager for TEE, says the nonprofit is a coalition of various stakeholders across North Texas, including parents, attorneys, education experts, local government experts, and sitting school board members.

According to Harris, TEE was created in 2021 in response to parents’ outcry over local governments’ lack of transparency and ethics. TEE hopes to implement policy that will address this tension between parents and educators, which it calls the “polarization of classrooms.”

TEE’s policies call for parents and taxpayers to be granted access to a school’s performance data, stating that they should be able to easily find information on their district’s website regarding its agendas and participate in school board meetings.

The organization also calls for parents and taxpayers to be able to submit open record requests and receive a timely response. The district would also be required to provide parents with access to budgets, financial statements, audit requirements, expense reports, teaching materials, and syllabuses.

In addition, the policies would require districts to provide college assistance for students, notifications to users when districts update websites, and accountability for schools regarding adherence to transparency guidelines. 

The TEE wants to implement a code of ethics that facilitates transparency by tracking family and personal relationships. The ethics code would cover a potential employee, officer, director, owner, principal, vendor, and any current employee, teacher, administrator, officer, or district trustee. All conflicting relationships would be made public.

Also outlined in TEE’s policy are stipulations regarding spending by the district. All contracts and bids for contracts would be made available on a district’s website, along with every donation made or promised. 

Additional policy by TEE pertains to “classical social & emotional learning” (CSEL) and calls for a wide range of instructional resources for students.

Under this policy, all teaching materials and instruction would be consistent with the educational goals of the district and the state.

Educators would not be allowed to include politics and personal opinions in their lessons. They also may not teach or use resources that could be considered pornographic or that discuss ideologies such as critical race theory (CRT) or gender theory.

The policy emphasizes teaching classical writings like “Democracy in America” and the Declaration of Independence.

TEE aims for the policies to guide the current ISD framework, aiding Texas districts, school boards, administrators, and teachers in achieving transparency and critical objectives while keeping parents involved in the instruction and education of their children.

“These issues are not going away anytime soon,” stressed Harris. “TEE will simply continue to grow in our advocacy and release additional best practices policies.”

Harris says TEE is currently working with numerous sitting board members, ISD candidates, and education organizations to advocate for the implementation of these policies.

TEE plans to spread its messaging online and through education advocacy organizations. The nonprofit will also present the guidelines to districts; Harris says school boards have the right to enforce the policies at any time.

“We were excited to see the TEE publicly announce a policy this week on the topic of pornographic materials in our schools,” says Harris. “It’s a step in the right direction; our policies are simply more encompassing.” 

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