ARK President Dr. Glenn Wilkerson co-authored HB 2511 with State Representative Alma Allen. Pictured (left to right) is: Donnie King, a former principal with Aldine ISD, Dr. Jackie Shuman, assistant superintendent for Santa Fe ISD, Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), Dr. Glenn Wilkerson, president and founder of The ARKGroup, and Dana Kervin, chief development officer for ARK.

ARK has been pushing a bill, HB 2511, that calls for all Texas schools to provide programs helping teachers to be intentional in giving unconditional love and care to their students. In focusing on the emotional health of so many school children who feel unloved and unwanted at home and at school, the bill was written to address the root cause of the vast majority of school violence. HB 2511 also called for schools to provide parenting programs that emphasize parents’ nurturing their children.

We held meetings with four State Senators and two State Representatives, and made five trips to Austin, lobbying for the bill. HB 2511 was carried in the House by Representatives Dr. Alma Allen, Sam Harless, and Ryan Guillen. The bill made it through the House Public Education Committee where Asst. Supt. of Santa Fe ISD, Dr. Jackie Shuman, testified on its behalf. The House voted in favor of the bill and passed it to the Senate where it was picked up and carried by Senator Judith Zafirinni.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s office is in charge of assigning bills to Senate Committees. HB 2511 languished for two weeks until, prompted by a flurry of emails from our ARK Board members to the Lt. Gov.’s office, it was assigned to the Senate Education Committee. Education Committee Chair, Senator Larry Taylor, did not schedule a hearing for over a week until, prompted by another flurry of emails from our ARK Board members, a hearing was scheduled; and the bill was read in Committee. Unfortunately, the Committee Chair did not schedule a vote, saying there was not enough Committee support for it to pass. So, HB 2511 died in Committee—one stage short of passing it to the Senate floor for a vote and passage into legislation.

Six years ago, Representative Patricia Harless presented the same bill to the 2013 Session of the Texas Legislature; and it didn’t even make it out of the House Committee. So, HB 2511’s movement through a House Committee, a House vote, and consideration by a Senate Committee constitutes real progress! And, it would not have made it that far without YOUR engagement in the legislative process.

After a recent visit with Representative Sam Harless (R-Houston), who coauthored HB 2511, ARK is looking forward to working with him and Representative Allen again in 2021 to make another run at getting this bill passed. Thank you for your continued support of ARK and our work to change our community for the better.

Warm Regards, — Dr. Glenn Wilkerson

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