About the Texas AFT Legislative Hotline

The Texas AFT Legislative Hotline is published by e-mail and to this site each business weekday (and some holidays and weekends when important news justifies a post) by the staff at the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

You may sign up for the e-mail list here.

Hotlines from August 20, 2010 to present may be found on the main site through the month links on the right navigation bar, or by using the search field.

Hotlines before that day may be found here.

 

civilrightscoalition

The test-based Texas school accountability system and the Texas-inspired federal accountability apparatus have long been defended as a supposed civil-rights necessity, ensuring attention will be paid to the educational needs of all students. On October 28, a broad array of U.S. civil-rights groups rejected that threadbare rationale for test-driven accountability, and they offered specific … (read more…)

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mikecollieratdesk

On Wednesday Mike Collier, the candidate for comptroller of public accounts backed by Texas AFT, will face off with Glenn Hegar, a corporate farmer and state senator who memorably said he was “proud” of voting for deep funding cuts in public education. Mike Collier condemns those cuts and rightly points out that they were based in part on a badly mistaken, low-ball estimate of state revenue by … (read more…)

TRS_Care

As previously reported, the legislature soon will be deciding how to meet the state’s obligations to pay for health-insurance coverage for active and retired school employees. Lawmakers will have to figure out how to cover a sizable shortfall in funding for TRS-Care for retirees as well as the rising cost of health coverage for those currently employed by school districts.

Texas AFT can only … (read more…)

The newspapers are full of reports on the latest opinion polls as we head into the final week of the 2014 election campaign. So it’s time for our biennial reminder that only one poll counts—the one in which real-live voters take the time to go to their polling sites and cast their ballots. Regardless of claims and counterclaims made by pollsters and campaign operatives, the truth is that this … (read more…)

In an era when it has become fashionable and potentially quite profitable to bash public education and educators (see the October 23 Hotline for an illustration), a group of Texas religious leaders has formed to provide a comprehensive rebuttal, based on the common ground of values cherished by … (read more…)

teacher-cover

There’s something rotten at Time magazine—on the cover of an upcoming issue about teacher “tenure”—that is riling up AFT members, friends, and allies.

The cover for an issue due to hit newsstands on November 3 reads, in part, “Rotten Apples: It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire a Bad Teacher,” and shows a gavel about to smash an apple. The irony is that the cover doesn’t even … (read more…)

The gubernatorial debates last month are worth revisiting as you head for the polls during early voting or on November 4. The debates presented a telling contrast between the candidates for governor, Wendy Davis (our Texas AFT-backed candidate) and Greg Abbott.

Take the issue of standardized testing and its many misuses. Here’s how the gubernatorial debate went on that topic of central … (read more…)

Texas AFT issued a press release today marking the occasion of “Safe Schools Week” with a call for Ebola training and preparedness. Here is the text of today’s release:

October 19-25 is Safe Schools Week—an initiative of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center to “to develop robust emergency operations plans for a wide range of possible emergencies, whether … (read more…)

As Texans begin 12 days of early voting en route to the grand finale on Election Day, November 4, editorial endorsements of Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, our Texas AFT-backed candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, keep pouring in. (For more information on early voting and the Texas AFT-backed candidates, see our Election 2014 … (read more…)

TRS_Care

Take action with an online letter to state officials!

Mark down Friday, October 17, as a new milestone in the long debate over how to meet the state’s obligations to pay for health-insurance coverage for active and retired school employees. On this date the Texas Teacher Retirement … (read more…)

At a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing on school governance today, Texas AFT advised lawmakers to be wary of “magic bullet” fads imposed from the top down by education bureaucrats in Washington or Austin or by local elites. Texas AFT legislative spokesman Ted Melina Raab urged committee members instead to support initiatives coming up from the grass roots—from the parents, … (read more…)

National groups representing big-city superintendents and state education commissioners have responded to criticisms of the widespread overuse and misuse of standardized achievement tests by vowing to evaluate their testing requirements, with an eye toward eliminating tests deemed to be of poor quality or simply redundant. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten offered these … (read more…)

We have learned that some controversial policies involving the takeover of local school districts are likely topics for discussion at the October 16 hearing of the Texas House Public Education Committee, recently announced on unusually short notice.

One of the scheduled witnesses will be former state Rep. Dee Margo, an El Paso Republican who is now president of the state-appointed board of … (read more…)

A federal appeals court has reinstated the controversial Texas voter-ID law for this year’s November 4 general election, despite a lower court’s emphatic ruling that the law was passed with intent to discriminate against minority voters, who are disproportionately likely to lack one of the law’s prescribed forms of photo ID that must be presented in order to vote in person. The appeals court … (read more…)

The chair of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee has a bone to pick with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the curriculum standards that are supposed to tell teachers what students must learn in each grade and subject. That much was clear from the insistent line of questioning Sen. Kel Seliger, Republican of Amarillo, pursued with witnesses at a hearing in Austin on … (read more…)

We, the people, do not get to decide directly the laws and rules that guide state government’s actions. But once every couple of years comes a moment when the tables are turned and we are the direct decision-makers. That moment is Election Day, when those of us who vote get to decide, by majority rule, which candidates will represent us as state lawmakers in Austin.

We owe it to ourselves, … (read more…)

Three Texas House committee hearings on October 8 foreshadowed themes that will occupy a lot of the legislature’s time in the 2015 regular session that begins in January.

A special committee hearing on transportation funding turned into a broader discussion of the future of the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, also known less formally as the Rainy Day Fund.

A joint hearing of House … (read more…)

aro

On October 7 three local coalitions in Austin, Dallas, and Houston launched coordinated campaigns for school improvement built around the concept of community schools, with Texas AFT’s local affiliates prominently involved in each effort.

The community-school approach involves not only a full array of educational services for students but also access to a network of support services for … (read more…)

Grant spending proposed by the Texas Education Agency came in for scrutiny at a subcommittee hearing of the Texas House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, October 7. The great bulk of funding for public education flows through TEA to school districts according to per-pupil allocation formulas set by the state, but hundreds of millions of dollars flow via various grants outside the formulas. … (read more…)

There are two notable new developments to report regarding the state response to the identification and hospitalization of an Ebola virus victim in Dallas.

First, Gov. Rick Perry has named a state task force to assess the state’s preparedness and capacity to respond to infectious disease. Among the state officials on the task force is Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. As … (read more…)

The Texas Education Agency is back under sunset review in advance of the 2015 legislative session. Sunset review is intended to gauge how well an agency is doings its job, and the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission in a new report has found considerable fault with TEA’s handling of its contract with the private company that administers the state’s achievement tests. The contract, with NCS … (read more…)

On November 4, Texas voters will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state comptroller, along with a new state legislature. In a number of school districts and community college districts–including Corpus Christi ISD, Austin ISD, and Austin Community College–trustees on local boards will be elected. Also on the ballot in many jurisdictions will be important bond … (read more…)

The hospitalization of a patient with the Ebola virus in Dallas has led to measures to isolate individuals with whom he came in contact, including several Dallas ISD schoolchildren, in order to monitor them for symptoms and prevent (read more…)

AFT President Randi Weingarten offered the following comment on World Teachers’ Day, coming up on October 5:

In my visits to classrooms from Meriden, Conn., to Melbourne, Australia, and from Houston, Texas, to Helsinki, Finland, I see teachers who care deeply about their students and the mighty responsibilities of their job. No matter where in the world an … (read more…)

In just over a month, Texas voters will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state comptroller, along with a new state legislature. The decisions made in the November 4 election will determine whether we can stop the many attacks on public education and make positive change for our students and those who educate them in our public schools and institutions of higher … (read more…)

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