Lucio files education bills aimed at pandemic 

Incumbent for District 27 Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. waves to motorist as he campaigns for reelection on election day Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. has pre-filed a package of bills to increase the state’s capacity to address the educational, mental health and emotional needs of Texas students in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lucio, D-Brownsville and vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said the bills recognize the importance of equipping teachers and counselors to meet the needs of every student and help them reach their goals.

“We live in a complex world and children sometimes struggle to understand the world around them. From the trauma associated with school violence to COVID-19 and the interruption of important academic instruction, many students become challenged with emotional and academic setbacks when faced with adversity,” Lucio stated in a news release. “It is vital to the future of our state that we help these students overcome these barrirers and remain on track to become the next generation of Texas leaders.”

Lucio filed two bills related to school counselors: SB 178, which provides for more school counselors by lowering the required student-to-counselor ratio; and SB 179, which requires districts to adopt policies that prioritize counselors’ duties to students over administrative work.

In addition, Lucio filed SB 180, which would boost educator training and professional development opportunities to help teachers meet the needs of special education and bilingual education students who face academic challenges related to extended time away from the classroom.

“Every student brings their own unique needs to the classroom, and it is critical that we provide preparation for our educators to meet those needs, whether they be due to a disability, a language barrier, or any other reason,” Lucio said. “In the upcoming legislative session, I am confident Texas will make it a priority to ensure every school has the staff and expertise necessary to help students succeed and overcome the overwhelming challenges created by the pandemic. I look forward to working with my colleagues to uphold our promise of a high-quality education to every Texas student and to having these bills signed into law.”