Texas State Senator and Senate Chairman of Education Dan Patrick said their passage of HB Five on Monday, surged it to the rank of the most important bill that has cleared the legislature in a long time.
The bill has most notably been recognized for its prevision that reduced the number of required High School End of Course (EOC) exams from 15 to five.
The bill received tremendous support from both the senate and the house...something Patrick accredits to the true collaborative effort that went into amending it.
"It is a great bill because it was a collaborative effort. There were 31 members of the senate that contributed to it, and that's why it passed 31-0."
The bill makes a number of changes to the current way our public and higher education systems run, one being that it adds flexibility to individual graduation plans with a change to the traditional 4x4 system, which requires all students to complete four years of credit in social studies, English, science, and math.
"So your current 4x4 is your 16 total core classes. Under our bill it might be 5-4-4-3, which is still 16 but just one in your major. Anytime you get a chance to pursue the areas that you're interested in while you're learning, you tend to do better," said Senator Patrick.
This change has brought some criticism from Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond, who in a press release said "the fact that schools, teachers and administrators wont be held to a higher accountability system, and students wont be required to take a more challenging course of study, we are dooming generations of students to mediocre education and low wage jobs."
However, Senator Patrick told 550 KTSA News that Hammond's association only consists of eight small business entities, none of which bothered to show up and voice their opinion to the Senate during Monday's session.
Patrick said the bill will still require students to study in all of the required sections, but merely takes away the current requirement for them to take each subject, each year.
"The only change we've made to the recommended plan is if you're a math major, you get to take one less social studies and take one more math; if you're a fine arts major, you get one more fine arts, one more English or history and one less science," said Senator Patrick. "That's not reducing rigor. That's allowing a student to have some flexibility to follow their passion."
Senator Patrick said this bill will move the state towards one foundational diploma that endorses distinguishing students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) areas, as well as Fine Arts and Career based classes.
"And in career for the first time, we're putting a heavy emphasis on rigorous career courses, so that student's will graduate ready for a career or ready to go to college," said Senator Patrick.
The bill also had overwhelming support in the Texas House of Representatives, where it was passed in April.
A conference committee comprised of an equal number of senators and representatives will be appointed in the near future to draft the final version of the bill, taken from a resolved form of both the senate and house version.