HB 25 and Amarillo area school sports, the books students read, and unanswered questions – KAMR – MyHighPlains.com

KAMR – MyHighPlains.com
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Monday, Oct. 25, saw the introduction of a barrel full of questions regarding Texas school districts and how they treat, and teach, their students. The passing of House Bill 25 is set to affect how students play sports across the state come spring, and a State Representative set a deadline with unclear consequences about which schools have which books. Here is an overview of the two bigger topics in Texas education this week.
Part I | House Bill 25 and the day-to-day impact
Co-authored by local High Plains state legislators Four Price and Ken King, House Bill 25 was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday. The bill bans students in Texas from joining school sports based on gender identity instead of a biological sex noted on documents at or near the time of their birth. Impacting K-12 students, the law is expected to go into effect next semester in January 2022.
However, exactly how school districts are going to enforce the text of the bill is unclear. There is no guidance regarding how to put the bill’s requirements into practice within the text, except to say that school districts will be responsible for following it. This has left many questions without a clear answer, including;
With this list of questions in mind to begin to discuss the day-to-day enforcement of this bill, MyHighPlains.com reached out to the Amarillo Independent School District, the Texas Education Agency, and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) for comment and clarification.
Amarillo ISD said, “As we do anytime there is new legislation that impacts public schools, we will follow the guidance provided to us by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The TEA administers the laws and rules that govern education in the state.”
The TEA said, when contacted after Amarillo ISD, “The team at UIL should be able to assist with this request. Implementation of this legislation does not fall under TEA’s purview.”
Then, the UIL administration said, “The UIL expects all member schools to be in compliance with state law and UIL eligibility rules. We know that schools have systems in place to comply with state law as they have always done.”
With the school district waiting on guidance from the TEA, but the TEA claiming that it does not have any oversight or guidance to give, and the UIL administration claiming that schools have systems in place already – where does the responsibility in dealing with this issue actually lay?
Who, now that this legislation is set to impact the over 5.47 million students across Texas, is responsible for deciding how schools need to go about enforcing this law? From that, what is that person or group’s guidance on the topic?
Part II | Books in Texas schools and libraries
Monday, as previously mentioned, only saw further questions introduced regarding Texas schools and their students in the coming months.
Texas Attorney General Candidate Representative Matt Krause issued a letter to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and superintendents that began an inquiry into school district content. Krause asked for responses by Nov. 12 from each school district regarding:
Many of the books on the list include stories of people impacted or overcoming discrimination such as racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, from works of fiction to memoirs and anthologies. These include award-winning books and bestsellers such as “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron and “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates or “LGBT Families” by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee, “The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves” edited by Sarah Moon, and Michael J. Basso’s “The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents.”
The list also included many books regarding subjects such as health information, teen pregnancy, legal rights for teens, and debate guides for issues such as abortion.
It appeared that some of these books might be under consideration for whether or not they violate House Bill 3979, the “critical race theory law” intended to limit how race-related subjects are taught in public schools. The law said a teacher cannot “require or make part of a course” a series of race-related concepts, including the ideas that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that someone is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive” based on their race or sex.
However, numerous aspects regarding Krause’s request were not explained in the text of the letter:
Part III | What now?
Because of the lack of clarity from districts, educational and scholastic agencies, state legislators, and the law, it may be a wait until mid-to-late November to see the road ahead for Krause’s new inquiry. Even later, it may be January 2022 before more guidance is issued regarding what teachers, parents, and students should expect to go through to comply with new regulations on sports.
In the meantime, public libraries can provide access to digital and digital education resources, as well as books through requests, holds, and interlibrary loan programs. The Texas State Library Archives Commission also provides portals such as TexQuest for literary, media, information, research, and curriculum resources.
Further, the US Department of Education published resources for students including those who are among the LGBTQ+ community. The Office for Civil Rights within the DoEd has also collected data and resources regarding accessibility and equity in school.
This story is developing. Check with MyHighPlains.com for updates.
Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) was given more than $78 million by the Texas Legislature during a recent special session, through a bill that authorized $3 billion for “Capital Construction Assistance Projects” at state colleges and universities.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of our West Texas delegation and the support of the Texas Legislature for helping secure these funds,” TTUHSC President Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D., said. “These funds are a significant investment in our expanding infrastructure, enabling us to further our efforts in transforming health care across the state.”
PAMPA, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – One person was injured in a home fire at around 3:07 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, according to a Facebook post by the City of Pampa.
The city stated that the Pampa Fire Department responded with four units and eight personnel to 1130 E. Francis on a structure fire.
LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — Bart Reagor sat down with KLBK News’ Terri Furman to talk about everything from his personal life to his regrets.
This was the first time Reagor had talked to media since mid-2018.