SMU Law Review


Since President Johnson passed the first federal education legislation in the 1960s, lawmakers at both the state and federal level have been searching for effective ways to hold public schools accountable. The 2015 amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act gave states increased flexibility to implement their own innovative accountability measures, and with this newfound authority, Texas passed two laws: House Bill 1842 (HB 1842) in 2015 and Senate Bill 1882 (SB 1882) in 2017. The stringent measures in HB 1842 threaten struggling schools with state takeover if they consistently fail to meet standards, while SB 1882 incentivizes schools to enter two-year partnerships with charters or nonprofits with the goal of meeting state standards in exchange for a pause on HB 1842 sanctions.

Focusing on the Houston and San Antonio Independent School Districts, this Comment explores the implications of the two recent laws and argues that state takeovers disenfranchise voters and families, and that SB 1882 partnerships—though not without challenges—present a necessary alternative. Taking the legal battles in the Houston and San Antonio school districts as lessons, this Comment proposes some measures that school districts exploring the partnership option could take to ensure that students and their families remain the priority.

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