HBA-CCH H.B. 946 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 946 By: Telford Public Education 3/12/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Texas public schools provide an excellent opportunity to teach character education and civic responsibility to children and adolescents. The widespread implementation of character education programs may help reduce disciplinary problems, improve the learning environment, and promote student achievement without proselytizing or indoctrinating the students concerning any specific religious or political belief. To be effective, character education must be integrated into the overall curriculum and must incorporate ideas from the community. House Bill 946 authorizes and encourages school districts to implement character education programs after consulting with educators, parents, and community leaders. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 946 amends the Education Code to create a character education program in public schools to identify, promote, and instill essential character traits and civic responsibility that improve the behavior and enhance the future of students. H.B. 946 authorizes each school district to implement its own or another district's character education program. The bill provides that a character education program stress positive character traits, be nonsectarian, involve district parents in selecting the program, and include at least one hour of classroom instruction in character education each week. The bill encourages the incorporation of character education into the school's regular curriculum, classroom instruction, and procedures and environment, and the instruction of positive character through definition, example, illustration, application, and participation. The bill does not require or authorize proselytizing or indoctrinating students concerning any specific religious or political belief. H.B. 946 requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to maintain a list of character education programs that a school district has approved and to distribute the list to each district in this state. The bill requires TEA to review and evaluate the effectiveness of comprehensive character education programs and assess the impact of those programs on student discipline, academic achievement, and other performance indicators, and include TEA's findings and recommendations in its biennial report. TEA is required to award grants to school districts for implementing and providing innovative character education programs out of funds appropriated for that purpose. A school district is authorized to recognize a school for its character education programs, a character education class, or a character education program teacher or student. The bill authorizes the award to include money paid with district funds or funds solicited from the community. Each school district is required to include character education in its alternative education programs, and juvenile justice alternative education programs offered by the juvenile board of a county must focus on character education. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001. This Act applies beginning with the 2001-2002 school year.