FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/29/2017
Rep. Donna Howard Passes Transformative Textbook Legislation
Legislator's Bill, Amendments, & Budget Work Set Stage For Open Education Resources
AUSTIN - Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Texas House and Senate sent two bills to the Governor's desk which contained amendments that substantially advance the use of Open Education Resources (OER) in the State of Texas. Representative Donna Howard's House Bill 3526 passed unanimously out of the House carrying amendments from the Senate; the first re-establishes the Technology Lending Grant program, while the second requires the Texas Education Agency to establish both a repository of digital OER and a web portal allowing districts to search for the materials that best suit their needs. Rep. Howard previously passed Senate Bill 810 out of the House with an amendment she placed on the bill clarifying language in state statute relating to OER materials.
"This is good policy for the school districts of Texas, and will serve to encourage and fund the growth of free OER instructional materials for classrooms. Faced with a budget that has yet to recover from the dramatic cuts to public education in 2011, schools are being asked to do more with less funding. It's my hope that these bills, taken with other legislation which passed this session, will not only support the development of high quality instructional materials, but will also provide a path to substantial savings for school districts."
This package should work together to help bring Texas school technology into the 21st Century. Senate Bill 1784 authorizes TEA to create and own the open license for OER materials, and the General Appropriations Act contains $20 million for such development; HB 3526 establishes a repository for these and other OER materials and sets up a portal for districts to find them; SB 810 clears up language in code and establishes a grant program to higher education professors who utilize OER in their courses; and Rep. Howard was instrumental in getting a rider into the state budget that dedicates $25 million to draw down $225 million in Federal E-Rate funding, which could connect every school campus in the state to modern fiber broadband.
This bipartisan package of legislation and funding was accomplished with the support and leadership of Sen. Larry Taylor, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Rep. Dwayne Bohac, Rep. Dan Huberty, and Rep. Trent Ashby.
CONTACT: Jacob Cottingham