POSTED: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 11:33am
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 11:44am
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Tribune) — One of the session's most controversial education  bills took a step forward on Tuesday.
After a day of testimony yesterday, the Senate Education Committee approved House Bill 5, major education legislation that would overhaul the state's testing system and graduation requirements.
The bill, which the House overwhelmingly passed last month, would cut the number of standardized tests students must take — from 15 to five — and reduce the four years of math and science courses currently required. If passed, the legislation would represent a dramatic reversal for a state that in 2006 adopted some of the nation's most rigorous curriculum standards.
The provision cutting the number of tests has drawn more support than the proposed curriculum revision, which business leaders and education groups have said would dumb down the state's education standards, putting low-income and minority students at risk. The debate has recently caught the attention of The New York Times and the Washington Post editorial board, which warned that "retreating from a path the state blazed — particularly when other states are following with toughened graduation requirements — will hurt Texas and many of its children."
On Tuesday, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the chairman of the education committee, lashed out against the national attention.
"Since when does Texas worry about what The Washington Post and New York Times editorial board thinks about our legislation?" Patrick said. "Maybe the Legislature should just go home and let The New York Times represent the House and The Washington Post represent the Senate."
Of concerns that the curriculum change could hurt students, Patrick said, "We're not stepping back in rigor or accountability."
Democratic Sens. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio and Royce West of Dallas did not vote for the bill, which the full Senate will likely hear next week, according to the San Antonio Express-News.