April 19, 2007
Thursday was a busy day for state lawmakers, as they tackled toll roads, the TAKS test and the Texas Youth Commission. State Senators say they hear the public outcry over private toll road contracts. They gave the green light to a bill that puts a two-year hold on privately funded deals like the Trans-Texas Corridor. “I think having a little … time, to look at this right, ultimately is to the benefit of Central Texas,” said Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin. The full house has already approved a similar moratorium. Major changes to the Texas Youth Commission also got full senate approval. The bill calls for adding more guards, higher training standards for staff and keeping teens charged with misdemeanors out of TYC lock-ups. “We’ve set up a system, where some of those … young, troubled kids can stay home, where they have the support of their families, and have the counseling and help they need,” said Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. Also, the TAKS test could soon be history. Senators voted to replace the TAKS test with end-of-course exams, instead. “It really is a valid concern that (teachers are) constantly teaching to the test, because they spend a lot of time in the classroom teaching the stuff that came before rather than what’s relevant. These end of course exams, will specifically be on that coursework,” said Senator Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. End-of-course exams would apply to high school students only. The house still has to approve the exams. But if they become law, students will start taking them in the 2009-2010 school year.