Texas State Board of Education District 7: A Critical Update

I have been busy working for you on The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). I have voted for policies promoting parent’s rights, banning pornography in schools, creating and modifying teaching certificates, simplifying and creating Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, raising standards for English language learners, defining who can serve as a trustee on military bases, improving trustee training requirements and developing the new Texas High Quality Instructional Materials.  

Concerning pornography in schools, I am proud to have voted for the school library and classroom library standards that were mandated by The Reader Act passed in 2023. There has been some confusion as to what “pornography” is. I have heard some people say, “I can’t define it, but I know when I see it.”  

While that may be true, that is not an acceptable answer when deciding the legal threshold for what is pornographic material in schools. The Reader Act created a legal definition for pornography for school districts, librarians, and teachers that is based on Texas Penal Code 43.21, 43.24 and 43.25.   

The references in penal code make it clear what is considered pornography, and these definitions help parents, school board trustees, and school administrators when deciding library materials and classroom library materials. While the courts are deliberating parts of The Reader Act, the sections related to the SBOE approved library standards have been upheld and are law in Texas. 

I have heard your voices and feelings on this issue, and my stance is that pornography is never acceptable in front of a child. I vow to you that I will keep fighting for children on this issue until all pornography has been removed from schools in SBOE 7.

Too many students and families in Texas experience the “Now what?” phenomena the day after high school graduation. To help guide students into success post-high school graduation, Texas created a bonus to incentivize school districts to prepare students for the next chapter. This incentivization is in the form of a “College, Career or Military Readiness” bonus, or a CCMR bonus. The CCMR is a win-win-win: for students and families, communities and school districts.  School districts receive a bonus of $3,000 (or $5,000, if the student is economically disadvantaged) for every student who graduates with a work-force ready certificate, is college bound, or is enrolling in the military. 

In the area of CTE, I voted for realignment of Career and Technology Education courses to simplify career tracts for students. This will make it easier for families to decide which work-force certification their child would like to achieve and make it easier to track their progress.  Also, new courses in agriculture, entrepreneurship and aviation have been created to better serve the needs of students and industry. 

For the first time, Texas will develop, write and publish instructional materials for tier-1 subjects, K – 12th grade.  In 2023, Texas passed into law the High-Quality Instructional Materials Act. The need for legislation was created by school districts not having an option for spending tax dollars on instructional materials that observe Texas law and/or high academic rigor standards.  Additionally, HB 1605 allows for the SBOE to adopt rubrics for all SBOE approved instructional materials.  

Texas has worked hard and passed great education legislation for instructional materials such as the Informed American Patriotism in Education Act.  This act mandates that all instructional materials for K – 12th grade must have a pro-America and pro-Texas lens; America and Texas are exceptional, and students should be proud of their state and country.  Also, Texas has passed laws concerning banning Critical Race Theory, banning pornography, banning common core, and requiring parents have full access to all instructional materials including teacher guides.   

The SBOE now has the option to approve or reject national instructional materials based on their compliance with Texas law.  The development of the Texas owned instructional materials, Texas HQIM, is a massive undertaking.  Because of state testing scores and requests from school districts, the SBOE has started with the approval of K- 5th grade English Language Arts and Math.  The current plan is to develop K – 8th Social Studies next in 2025.  I look forward to representing you and standing firm for social studies materials that comply with all state laws.  

This is dear to me since I helped advise, write, and was The Texas House and Texas Senate expert witness on House Bill 3979, which bans CRT in social studies standards, and Senate Bill 3, which bans CRT in all subjects and requires new civics training.  It was my honor to work with House Bill 3979 author, Rep. Steve Toth, and Senate Bill 3 author, Sen. Bryan Hughes, for such great legislation that protects students from radical progressive indoctrination. 

Thank you for electing me to represent you on the Texas State Board of Education.  If you have questions or concerns please email me @ Julie.pickren@sboe.texas.gov and please visit my website at www.juliepickren.com.

God bless your family & God bless Texas!

Member Julie Pickren

Texas State Board of Education, District 7

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Julie Pickren

Julie has long-standing educational leadership experience while serving in many forms. She is a former Board Member of Heritage Christian Academy, current Board Member of Fresh Impact Christian Academy, and was an Alvin ISD Trustee from 2015-2021. Her six-year tenure as a Trustee saw many successes and awards. Also, she has been a policy advisor on The Critical Race Theory Ban Bill and The Protect Girls' Sports Bill. Julie believes that together we can ensure that each child’s education prepares them to achieve the American Dream with Texas Values. She also understands that every child is unique and has different educational needs that she will protect, including home school, private, charter and public education. Julie is running for State Board of Education to serve all children in Texas, and that is why we must elect her to SBOE, Position 7.