Senate Rejects Ellis Amendment to Sunset SBOE

(Austin, Texas)—The Senate today rejected an amendment to SB 652 to place the State Board of Education under periodic sunset review beginning in 2013 – the same year that the Texas Education Agency is scheduled to be reviewed.

Under the Ellis Amendment, which tracks language in SB 452 — which has not received a hearing in Senate Education Committee — the Sunset Advisory Commission would review the procedures under which the State Board of Education operates, not the members of the Board itself. While opponents raised concerns about reviewing an agency headed by elected officials, several agencies led by elected officials – for example, the Department of Agriculture and the Railroad Commission — are already reviewed under the sunset process.

“I am disappointed the Senate chose to maintain the status quo rather than stand up for Texas schoolchildren,” said Ellis. “Putting the State Board of Education under sunset review is not about evolution or American exceptionalism or sex education. It is about efficiency, transparency, and good government. It is about ensuring that the agency that writes the curriculum standards for our children operates as effectively as possible.”

According to the Sunset Commission, the following agencies are subject to review by Sunset – but not abolishment:

* State Commission on Judicial Conduct
* Board of Pardons and Paroles
* Texas Ethics Commission
* Teacher Retirement System
* State Office of Administrative Hearings
* Office of the Independent Ombudsman of the Texas Youth Commission
* Veterans Land Board
* Texas Water Development Board

Further, at least three of those entities are provided for by the Texas Constitution: the Texas Ethics Commission; the Veterans Land Board; and the Texas Water Development Board.

Under the Texas Constitution, the State Board of Education’s purpose is to manage the Permanent School Fund to provide free textbooks to Texas school children. The board’s other duties are provided for by statute and should be subject to review.

“The SBOE’s authority over curriculum content is explicitly given by the legislature,” said Ellis. “It is absolutely critical for the legislature to have an opportunity to review how those powers are being exercised. The 4.9 million schoolchildren in Texas deserve nothing less.”

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