To clarify: the bill’s purpose is to make it easier for teachers to send e-mail messages to a large number of students. It’s not a law against sending emails. The intent is to get rid of any other legal impediments to making teachers’ emails available to each student. The bill isn’t as bad as the current anti-e-mail bills in other states, but HB is a step down from that. So it’s pretty terrible.
The state Senate has passed HB 439 by a 38-10 vote. The House has yet to vote on the bill, which takes effect the day after it takes effect.
SB 439’s text can be found here . . .
SB 448: E-mail in Texas classrooms
It’s the most recent proposal by the state assembly to replace laws that were passed over the last couple decades, with laws that are only about as effective as the old laws.
SB 448 is named after Senator Donna Howard (R-Austin), an engineer, and Republican state representative. Senator Howard’s bill would allow teachers to use a laptop computer in the classroom, if it works with the district’s electronic teacher evaluation system.
The bill passed unanimously in the House by a vote of 83-1. When asked about what the purpose of the bill is, SB 448’s sponsor, state Representative Dawnna Dukes, told reporters on Thursday, “This is about transparency. Teachers are afraid of the state. Teachers are afraid of the public’s opinion as far as what is in their classroom and what is in the classroom without their permission and for teachers to make sure when they’re in their classrooms, everyone is comfortable. I think that’s the purpose of having this, is to make sure people feel they can make choices in the classroom to make sure that everyone feels at home.”
The bill would allow teachers to “use, exchange, view, reproduce, sell, loan, distribute, exhibit, distribute, or display, in whole or in part, any school-directed instructional material or any portion of school-directed instructional material.” A student could be taught the material without the permission of the teacher. The bill defines “material” differently, so it wouldn’t apply to books, CDs, DVDs, etc.
That doesn’t mean there will necessarily be any real freedom to write emails in class. The legislation says teachers can “use the student’s computer for the sole purpose of providing instructional materials that are related to that student’s academic performance or instruction.”
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