Texas PTA Legislative Priorities
Funding and Accountability for Public Schools
1. Pursue an adequate and equitable solution for school funding while maintaining accountability and responsibility for educating the whole child.
a. Maintain current funding levels for public schools, which includes projected enrollment growth.
b. Maintain funding for school and community library programs. Reauthorize Telecommunications Discount Program for schools, public libraries and institutions of higher education to ensure that broadband access remains widely available to all Texans.
Loan Star Libraries
c. Maintain pre-kindergarten.
d. Support smaller class sizes for all students
e. Incentivize schools and school districts to maintain a focus on educating the whole child through support at the local level for arts instruction and physical activity. Infusion of the arts and robust physical activity in elementary, secondary, and continuing education curricula is key to the development of students and must be part of a comprehensive education.
2. Pass statewide Smoke-Free Workplaces Law—Pursue protections from second-hand smoke for youth and young adults working in service industry.
a. Texas PTA supports a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law to protect the health of workers, especially our youth, from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
b. Secondhand smoke causes more than one million illnesses in children and youth each year, including 150,000 to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections and 26,000 new cases of asthma. Exposure to second-hand smoke decreases lung efficiency and impairs lung function in children and youth of all ages.
c. Food service employees, many of them 18 and under, have a 50% higher risk of dying from lung cancer than the general public. These young people deserve to work in a healthy environment, free from second-hand smoke.
3. Fight Obesity—Support programs that promote movement, activities, healthier food choices and menus, and promote school, family and community participation.
a. Reinstate Physical Education and health Education requirements at secondary levels.
Research shows healthy habits learned in childhood support proper growth and development of children’s bodies and brains and promote better health outcomes in adulthood. Because good mental and physical health are linked to learning ability and because good health is a critical predictor of future productivity, it is essential that Texas schools provide students with access to learning environments that support healthy lifestyles.
4. Support Farm to School Programs—Pursue healthier food choices for children, promote awareness, community involvement, and economic development.
a. Obesity and diet-related diseases are the greatest threat to children’s health today caused in part by a lack of adequate fruit and vegetable consumption. Farm-to-School programs help combat obesity and other diet-related diseases by serving healthy meals in school cafeterias and providing nutrition
education opportunities to increase child preference for healthy foods. Farm-to-School programs also help increase the demand for fresh, locally-grown produce and help local farms have economic success
5. Ban possession and distribution of any herbal incense mixtures that contain synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2 or Spice
a. Synthetic cannabis is an herbal and chemical product which mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2 and Spice
b. The synthetic cannabinoids contained in synthetic cannabis products have been made illegal in many European countries, but remain legal under federal law in the USA. Several US states have made it illegal including Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, Arkansas, Oregon, and Illinois. The Drug Enforcement Agency considers synthetic cannabis to be a "drug of concern". According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several other states are also considering legislation, including Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Indiana, and Ohio.
6. Fund Clean School Bus Program—the grant program for school districts that assist in retrofitting diesel bus engines so they emit few toxins.
a. The State of Texas is home to over 35,000 school buses that transport children to and from school every day, as well as for field trips and athletic events. Children riding school buses are exposed to high concentrations of fine particles and other toxic substances not only while boarding and de-boarding buses, but inside the bus as well due to the intrusion of the buses’ own emissions into the bus cabin. While school buses continue to be the safest way to transport children, the emissions from their diesel engines contribute to a host of health effects, including dizziness, nausea, increased incidence and severity of asthma attacks, and chronic bronchitis.
7. Strengthen bullying statute to incorporate a clear definition of cyber-bullying and to provide tools and resources that enable schools to deal with all forms of bullying. Identify student, staff and parent education needs.
a. Cyber-bullying is bullying using electronic means including, but not limited to, telephones, cellular phones, computers, pagers, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging, and websites.
b. Parent and student education and staff training are key to addressing this newest form of bullying.
c. Studies show that as many as 43 percent of kids will experience bullying on the Internet or over mobile devices.
Texas PTA is a noncommercial, nonsectarian-nonpartisan organization that promotes the welfare of children and youth. Texas PTA does not endorse any candidate or political party.