Call Reps Villarreal and Rodriguez this week to support HB 2976 parent trigger bill

Have you heard about HB 2976, the parent trigger bill? Or maybe you saw the movie “Won’t Back Down”—here’s my review.

There are way too many failing schools in Texas. Under the current law, if a school is failing, the parents can band together and demand change. But the school has to be labelled “academically unacceptable” for six years. The new law, HB 2976, would shorten that to only two years.

Current status on HB 2976: it’s in the House Committee on Public Education, which includes two reps from San Antonio, Mike Villarreal and Justin Rodriguez. They need to hear from people in San Antonio that HB 2976 is important. (Not sure which district you’re in? Look it up at Who represents me?)

I am asking my friends to call every night through April 29. It feels weird at first. But remember that the legislators work for you. Just keep it simple.

Need a script? Start with this one, then make it your own:

Hello, my name is ____________, and you are my representative. I am calling to ask you to support HB 2976, the parent trigger law. I have kids and I am concerned about education. Six years is too long to wait before parents can organize around a failing school. Please vote for HB 2976.

Here are the phone numbers:

  • Rep. Mike Villarreal (District 123): 512-463-0532
  • Rep. Justin Rodriguez (District 125): 512-463-0669

In my experience, it’s not as scary as you think it will be. Sometimes you get an answering machine—just stick with your script. Often, it will be an aide or assistant, who will write down your message; no need to leave your phone number or address if you don’t need a response. Once in a blue moon, the legislator himself or herself will answer, but just remember that they answer to us.

News coverage of HB 2976 (and its Senate companion, SB 1263):

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  1. A reader shared this comment via email

    I have a question: Are you concerned about the language of HB 2976? I am particularly concerned about this section of language in the bill:

    Please see Section 1, subsection (e)

    “(e) If a campus is considered to have an unacceptable
    performance rating for two [three] consecutive school years after
    the campus is reconstituted under Subsection (a), the commissioner,
    subject to Subsection (e-1) or (e-2), shall order:
    (1) repurposing of the campus under this section;
    (2) alternative management of the campus under this
    section; or
    (3) closure of the campus.”

    In my opinion this consolidates too much power in the hands of the commissioner. This, in my opinion, does not protect the public interest and is a dangerous short-cut that could lead to the administratively convenient closure of many under-performing schools especially in light of a Texas Legislature that has been very willing to cut funding for public education in the recent past.

    This is an excellent case of a law with good intentions that was either written poorly or has counter-intent. In my opinion, in order for HB 2976 to be worth advocating for sub-section e-3 needs to be removed.

  2. Inga,

    Thank you for reposting that email to your blog site. I’d like to say again that I appreciate your advocacy work and your organizational skills.

    I wanted to give you an update of what I’m hearing at the Capitol on HB 2976 which is in public hearing as we speak:

    I just spent the past hour calling every office on the House Education committee to take the temperature on the bill. Every single office i spoke with (Rodriguez, Villarreal, Aycock, Allen, Davis, Deshotel, Dutton, Farney, Huberty, King, and Ratliff) voiced similar concerns that 2 years is too short of an amount of time to recommend the closure of a campus. In fact there is much broader opposition to the bill based on that section (e-3). In short, that section has to go in the eyes of the committee members and others.

    I also spoke directly with Rep. Naomi Gonzalez’s office and was told that she plans to strike that section from the bill in order to get it passed out of committee. I told her office that I was happy to hear that and that I appreciated her leadership. If that section does indeed get struck, as I was told, I believe we have a winner of a bill as amended.

    Once again thank you for your advocacy work. As one advocacy organizer to another I think you’re doing a great job and I appreciate your work.

    Thank you,

    David Matiella

  3. I wanted to follow up with you on the status of the “Parent Trigger” bill that is in the House Education committee – HB 2976.

    This bill went before the House Education committee on Tuesday, April 30th in the form of a Committee substitute. I have attached the current version of the bill in this email. You can also read about the progress and history of the bill on the TLO website.

    As a private citizen, I spent several hours making telephone calls to the legislative offices of all the members on the Education committee as well as to the office of the author of the bill, Rep. Naomi Gonzalez to gather information and register my concerns. I also spent considerable time reaching out to various advocacy groups and educators via email and telephone. Nearly all of them shared these concerns I described in my previous email.

    Rep. Gonzalez’s office indicated to me that there was substantial push-back across the board on the portion of the bill (e-3) that allowed for the commissioner to have the option to close a campus after only 2 consecutive years of academic failing grades. Nearly all of the offices I spoke with indicated that portion of the bill was problematic and/or undermined the intent of the bill. Because that portion of the bill was keeping it from having a chance of passage out of committee, Rep. Gonzalez has since struck that portion out of the bill.

    In its current form, which is not the “final” form, the bill language is much-improved and now has language that strengthens and more clearly defines the parent trigger, more clearly defines “academic failure” to also include “unbiased information on the status of a campus and why the campus has been assigned an unacceptable performance rating each year.” It also will include detailed information on the options available for the campus and keeps the school within the school district so as to keep district resources available while the school is re-constituted – all of which benefit students, teachers, and the community with better organization and transparency.

    What the bill no longer contains is the option for the commissioner to close the campus after 2 years of academic failure.

    It is my opinion that this is now a much better bill that better serves its own interests, the interests of our children, and the interest of the communities of under-performing public schools. In short, the bill does a better job of doing what it set out to do. No bill is perfect but this one is recently improved.

    With only a brief amount of time until the end of the 83rd legislative session the window of opportunity is closing fast on this but it still has a small chance of making it out of committee and on its way to the House floor.

    If you have any questions about how to conduct advocacy on this or any other issue please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Thank you,

    David Matiella

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