HBA-CCH C.S.H.B. 946 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 946 By: Telford Public Education 3/19/2001 Committee Report (Substituted) 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 programs must incorporate ideas from the community. C.S.H.B. 946 authorizes and encourages school districts to implement character education programs after consulting with a committee consisting of educators, parents, and other community members. 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 C.S.H.B. 946 amends the Education Code to authorize school districts to establish a character education program in public schools that emphasizes positive character traits, uses integrated teaching strategies, and is age appropriate. The bill requires a district that decides to establish a character education program to consult with a character education program committee (committee) consisting of educators, parents, and other members of the community. The bill does not require or authorize proselytizing or indoctrinating students concerning any specific religious or political belief. The bill requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to maintain a list of character education programs that school districts have implemented. The bill requires TEA, based on data annually reported by districts, to designate each school that provides a character education program that meets specified criteria as a Character Plus School. The bill requires TEA to include the impact on student discipline, academic achievement, and other appropriate data in its comprehensive biennial report. C.S.H.B. 946 authorizes TEA to accept money from the federal government and private sources to use in assisting school districts in implementing character education programs that meet the provisions of this bill. 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. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.H.B. 946 modifies the original by requiring school districts that implement a character education program to consult with a committee of educators, parents, and other community members. The substitute adds the requirement that TEA designate Character Plus Schools. The substitute authorizes TEA to accept money from the federal government and private sources to use in assisting districts in implementing character education programs, rather than requiring TEA to award grants to school districts. The substitute removes the provisions that each school district is required to include character education in its alternative education programs and that juvenile justice alternative education programs offered by the juvenile board of a county must focus on character education. The substitute removes the authorization for school districts to recognize, with money or another type of award, a school, class, teacher, or student for character education. The substitute specifies that character education programs must be age appropriate and modifies specific provisions and requirements regarding the development and implementation of character education programs.