Eissler changes class size bill

Hair Balls was first with the news.

Rep. Rob Eissler (R- The Woodlands) whose House Bill 18 wanted to move the state to a cap of 25 students in each classroom, [Friday] instead made a floor substitution which only mildly tweaked the present classroom size regulations calling for a cap of 22 students in grades K through 4. This had to be good news for State Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), who has argued continually that upping the class size was a bad move for the state and its children.

And districts would still have to notify parents of children whose rooms exceed the 22 cap.

Superintendents have always been able to apply for waivers if they can successfully argue that holding students to the 22 cap “works an undue hardship on the district.” Eissler’s bill would have removed even that requirement. Instead, districts will still be required to prove why they should be granted a waiver.

In addition, the proposed new language now allows a waiver if the Texas Education Commissioner “determines that as a result of a reduction in state funding levels, the amount of state and local funds per weighted student available to the district is less than the amount…available to the district in the preceding year.”

Or in other words, if the district can mathematically prove a financial hardship. Any such waiver granted would expire at the end of the school year for which it is granted.

Teacher groups, who have fought the Eissler legislation from the beginning, have reacted favorably to the change. Add this to the Howard-Farrar amendment that will make available Rainy Day fund monies if possible, and I hope Democrats have adequately answered the question why they bothered to fight for their constituents and their convictions instead of folding like a beach chair.

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