The House Education Committee Moves HB 297

The House Education Committee moved HB 297 on Friday, March 12.  I'm a little surprised after what seemed like endless discussion.  Perhaps it will get somewhere after all.  But, like several legislators have said, the big issue may be whether or not the program is funded, not whether it is passed. 

Several amendments were adopted during Friday's hearing, including one that requires students in the first eligible graduating class to take three years each of math and science.  Rep. Gardner offered an amendment.....

she wanted the bill to require three years of math and three years of science during the transition period. Chairman Seaton said Rep. Gardner would be upping the science requirement from one year to three years during a one-year period of time. Mr. Jeans clarified that the current requirement was two years in both math and science.

Rep. Buch said that requirement was all well and good for school districts where those options were available. What about rural areas where there are only two teachers? There needs to be some sort of a time span for the transition. Or do you just want to exclude those folks?

Chairman Seaton asked the department if the alternative pathways option in the bill would allow for the types of circumstances Rep. Buch is talking about. Mr. Jeans said the alternative pathways is not a waiver, but allows students to make up deficits in their coursework.  The department understands the committee’s desire. But he asked the committee to allow the legislation to move forward as it is to allow the state board to take into consideration all circumstances. The state board is a better place to vet the transition language.

Rep. Gardner said HB 297 is not about the state giving scholarships. It is about improving K-12 education. Rep. Wilson said there may be only two teachers in a school, but those teachers will teach what needs to be taught. Rep. Keller agreed that it is reasonable to require students to take the necessary courses to participate in the scholarship program.

Ms. Mischel said she recommended that if the committee wanted that, they should just spell out core curriculum requirements of three years of math and three years of science. Rep. Gardner said how ever Ms. Mischel recommended it be worded was fine with her.

Chairman Seaton restated the conceptual amendment that students must meet a minimum of three years of math and three years of science in the transition period. The amendment was adopted unanimous consent.