Houston ISD and 29 Texas districts want virtual learning funding in special session

KTRK logo
Monday, June 21, 2021
Cy-Fair ISD no longer planning to offer virtual school in 2021-22
Top district officials floated online schooling before the school year ended. So, what changed? Here's what we know.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston ISD and 29 other Texas school districts want legislation on virtual learning funding to be part of the special session that's being floated by Gov. Greg Abbott.

In a letter sent to the governor Wednesday, the collection of districts, which also includes Conroe, Goose Creek Consolidated, Huffman and Spring independent school districts, insisted the pandemic-era practice of remote learning has benefited many families and can continue to do so going forward.

"Some students have been able to work to support their family while still focusing on learning," the letter read. "Still others have benefited from the ability to remain enrolled in their own school while receiving treatment for life threatening illnesses or mental health challenges."

While the letter goes on to give attention to those students who are "better suited to an in-person environment," the districts said thousands of students thrive in remote learning.

"We have an obligation to ensure that they receive the best education possible by providing them with the choice to receive their learning virtually," the letter concluded.

In recent weeks, many districts in the Houston area had to call off their respective virtual academies planned for the next school year due to state lawmakers failing to take up funding through House Bill 1468, which the 30 districts said enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

SEE ALSO: Alarming failure rates among Texas students fuel calls to get them back into classrooms

Gov. Abbott hasn't directly weighed in on whether to insert virtual learning funding into a special session, but a local union did comment.

"Didn't we just get through being told virtual education wasn't sufficient? Regardless of what happens, they can no longer expect teachers to teach both virtually and in-person at once," a Houston Federation of Teachers union spokesperson said, alluding to struggles early on when the practice was instituted.

SEE ALSO: Advice from Houston educators for parents to help students with online instruction

Eyewitness News has reached out to Abbott's office for comment.

The North Texas Commission and the Texas Computer Education Association also supported the letter to the governor.

FULL LETTER: 30 school districts want special session to include virtual learning funding