Bill would mandate teaching positive character traits in Texas schools


Highlights

House Bill 729 could cost school districts $25 million in the first year.

The bill’s author said many school districts already teach positive character traits.

The bill has the support of teacher groups.

State lawmakers could start requiring students to learn character traits such as honesty, kindness and school pride as a part of their lesson plans.

The price tag to school districts and public charter schools statewide is an estimated $25 million for next school year and another $4 million in the following year to implement the program and train teachers, according to the Texas Education Agency and the Legislative Budget Board.

But the bill’s author state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, said that the agencies overestimate the cost of House Bill 729 because half of school districts already teach some sort of character program.

“Plus, I view it as an investment in our children, because what will happen is student attendance levels will go up, student behavioral and disciplinary problems will go down and academic achievement will soar. The science of why children succeed tells us that it’s parent engagement and character skills that matter the most,” Bohac said.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Bohac said that parents have the most important role in building character but schools must contribute, too. He pointed to studies that have shown that students who have learned through character programs improve on math and reading tests, are less likely to be suspended and more likely to go to school.

The teaching of positive character traits currently are required by the Texas Education Code. But HB 729 would integrate it into the state curriculum and require school districts and charter schools to adopt a character trait program after obtaining input from the parents and teachers. The school district would then have to report to the TEA each year the program’s impact on student absences, academics and disciplinary problems.

A couple of teacher groups told lawmakers this week that they supported Bohac’s bill because they don’t think it’d be too burdensome for public schools to implement such a program.

“When I was superintendent, I didn’t like a lot of mandates out of Austin either,” David Anthony, who formerly headed the education advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas, told lawmakers. “But I do think that sometimes when you got a really research-based issue where it’s not being done, people need to have to do it.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Court rejects defense lawyer Adam Reposa’s bid for early jail release
Court rejects defense lawyer Adam Reposa’s bid for early jail release

Denied bail as he serves six months in jail for contempt of court, Austin defense lawyer Adam Reposa could stay behind bars for most — if not all — of his sentence before he gets the chance to tell an appeals court that a judge botched his case. Reposa’s lawyer, Keith Hampton, said his client has been treated “uniquely&rdquo...
JUST IN: Small fire chars Iron Works barbecue joint; no injuries reported
JUST IN: Small fire chars Iron Works barbecue joint; no injuries reported

Austin fire officials said a heat source being too close to combustible materials caused a small fire at the Iron Works barbecue restaurant in downtown Austin on Friday. Firefighters initially reported a small fire in the wall of the restaurant, located at 100 Red River St., around 11:30 a.m., the Austin Fire Department said. Although the restaurant...
COMMUNITY NEWS: Georgetown to break ground on new civic campus Tuesday
COMMUNITY NEWS: Georgetown to break ground on new civic campus Tuesday

TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN Parks department presents Christmas play The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will present “People of Color Christmas,” an original, comedic play written by Vietnamese-American playwright Christine Hoang and directed by Rudy Ramirez. Showtimes will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 1-2 at the Asian American Resource Center, 8401...
2 men wounded in overnight shooting in North Austin, police say
2 men wounded in overnight shooting in North Austin, police say

Austin police responded to a shooting in North Austin early Friday that wounded two men. The shooting occurred in the 9600 block of North Lamar Boulevard, just north of Rundberg Lane sometime before 12:30 a.m. Friday, which was when Austin police said via Twitter that officers were at the scene. One of the men had injuries not considered to be life-threatening...
1 killed in collision on MLK Jr. Blvd. in East Austin late Thursday
1 killed in collision on MLK Jr. Blvd. in East Austin late Thursday

A woman was killed in a collision on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in East Austin late Thursday, according to police. Authorities said the two vehicles collided shortly before 10:40 p.m. near the intersection of MLK and Temple Drive, just west of Springdale Road. A man and a woman, both described as in their 20s, were injured and taken downtown...
More Stories