Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 946
By: Telford
Public Education


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.    


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. 


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

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.    


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.