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The conference report for Senate Bill 599 removes a provision creating a pilot program that could have allowed Teachers of Tomorrow to come into the state sooner than allowed under the original bill. 

Texas Teachers of Tomorrow is an alternative, online teacher preparation organization that gave a $5,000 donation to the bill’s only sponsor Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, in the month prior to the start of the 2017 long session of the General Assembly. Barefoot said he did not solicit the contribution and has never heard of the person who gave it to him on behalf of the organization. 

E-mails between Barefoot and a representative of the organization show that Teachers of Tomorrow wanted concessions in the bill that would allow them to come into the state sooner than the bill allowed. Barefoot refused. 

But after the bill passed the Senate and went to the House, a House committee added a pilot program to the bill that could have allowed Teachers of Tomorrow to enter the state sooner, as it wanted. Barefoot said publicly he did not support that provision.

Because of the change in the legislation, the bill had to return to the Senate for concurrence after it passed the House, but the Senate voted not to concur. The decision led to a conference committee between the House and the Senate where the pilot program was removed from the bill. 

The Senate already adopted the conference report, and the House added its approval last night, sending the bill on to the governor. In presenting the changes from the conference report, Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, mentioned several changes but failed to say that the pilot program was also eliminated.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.