State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff is looking into how House Bill 5, a bill passed in the last legislative session that reduces standardized tests and creates multiple educational paths for public school students, can benefit convicted criminals who are locked up.
In the last few weeks the SBOE has taken expert comment about HB 5 and Ratliff wants to make sure the Windham School District has equal access to the benefits. Windham provides educational programming and vocational training for eligible offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at facilities all over the state.
"How are they supposed to be treated? Ratliff said. "Because they have a very different challenge and a very different mission than your typical ISD."
HB 5 gives students in the public school system a choice of paths in the ninth grade -- either college-bound or vocational ready -- and then those students follow that curriculum path to get to either destination.
"We hear about career and college ready for the traditional public schools and I think that holds true for the Windham School District, but I think an equal challenge is to cut down on recidivism," Ratliff said.
Ratliff said in some cases getting a GED is a condition of being released from jail through Windham, but he said he’d like to see something more. Ratliff said he plans to continue to explore the option of including prison school districts in the HB 5 structure as the SBOE pushes on with developing each section of the new curriculum.