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What did lawmakers do for Texas school children? Join the Legislature’s education chairs for a recap

Rep. Harold Dutton and Sen. Larry Taylor will discuss how new laws could affect students and teachers.

By Talia Richman

Rep. Harold Dutton and Sen. Larry Taylor
The Texas Senate meets for about an hour and a half during the first called special session on July 8, 2021. (Bob Daemmrich / Bob Daemmrich/CapitolPressPhoto)

Texas lawmakers focused much of the legislative session on conservative culture war issues related to education, including what teams transgender student athletes should play on and how to curb “critical race theory” in the classroom.

But they also tackled more bread-and-butter subjects such as maintaining school funding levels, the high stakes of standardized testing and the distribution of billions in federal aid to help combat COVID-19 learning loss.

On Tuesday, the chairmen of the House and Senate education committees will delve into the Legislature’s recent actions. Eva-Marie Ayala, The Dallas Morning News Education Lab editor, will moderate the discussion.

Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, and Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, will discuss how new education policies will translate into school communities and the reverberations that children — especially students of color and those from low-income backgrounds — will feel.

The two will also discuss what the failure of some key legislation means for families and educators. The expansion of virtual learning, an issue championed by Taylor, died in the final hours of the session and meant many districts having to scrap plans to continue remote classes next school year.

Meanwhile, many education and civic advocates are watching lawmakers’ moves during the special session that just began.

They worry that the new “anti-critical race theory” law will have a chilling effect on educators’ efforts to have honest conversations about race and racism. The law could become stricter, as Gov. Greg Abbott put the issue on the special session agenda along with further debate over transgender athletes.

The event will also feature information on early childhood education, school funding and how teachers can make their lessons inclusive.

Students, families, educators and advocates are invited to join the virtual event, which will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Those interested can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/education-equity-a-texas-legislative-recap-tickets-161683191779?keep_tld=1

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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