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.

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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.

 

VouchersNO

A sharply divided Texas Senate gave preliminary but not final approval this afternoon to a voucher bill, SB 4, aiming to divert $100 million from already-underfunded public schools to subsidize private schools that do not have to meet state accountability standards. The vote to allow debate on the bill was 18 to 12, just one short of the 13 dissenting votes that would have blocked consideration of … (read more…)

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It’s rally time at the Capitol this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon! Public education in Texas continues to struggle with the challenges of underfunding and over-testing. Texas children deserve better. Join thousands of fellow Texans standing up at the Capitol to say THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!

Texas children cannot be left standing outside a courtroom waiting for their future. We need fair funding, … (read more…)

The U.S. Senate’s committee on education has done a good deed this week by passing the Every Child Achieves Act, a vast improvement over current law. This legislation will end the No Child Left Behind Act, Race to the Top, and federal waivers of NCLB with onerous strings attached.  It will dismantle the policies that have left a destructive, divisive climate affecting our schools, students, … (read more…)

SB 4, a bill by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) that would establish private-school vouchers for the first time in Texas, has been slated for action on the Texas Senate floor but has not yet come up for a vote. Thanks are due to the thousands of you who already have sent a letter to your senator opposing the bill. The rest of you still have a chance to help prevent this drain on scarce taxpayer … (read more…)

The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved  SB 14, another bill by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), which would speed up the timeline for a parent petition triggering alternative management of a campus. In California the prototype for this bill has been the vehicle for well-funded efforts by outside interests to get parent signatures on petitions for charter takeover of neighborhood public schools. … (read more…)

There is still time for you to put in a word with your state senator against private-school vouchers draining taxpayer funds from underfunded public schools. SB 4 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), a so-called “tax credit” voucher, could be up for a vote on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. Send … (read more…)

SB 69 by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is a health and safety measure that would require school districts to notify parents when their child’s school lacks the full-time presence of a school nurse. The bill, a longtime priority of the Texas AFT School Nurse Task Force, was passed with just one nay vote in the Senate Education Committee Tuesday. SB 69 goes next before the full Senate. An … (read more…)

Two bills by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), HB 1891 and HB 1892, got a favorable hearing in the House Public Education Committee Tuesday. Community schools offer a positive model of school turnaround and improvement, based on parent-teacher-community teamwork to marshal resources needed to address factors both outside and inside the schoolhouse affecting student achievement. Texas AFT strongly … (read more…)

SB 107 by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston)  started out as a problematic measure to change “shall” to “may” in Safe Schools Act provisions defining the consequences for serious offenses committed by students at school. But Sen. Whitmire’s committee substitute for SB 107, passed unanimously in committee today, earned Texas AFT’s support by omitting those problematic provisions and by … (read more…)

The House Public Education Committee held a marathon hearing Tuesday dealing with many of the major education issues of the 2015 session. HB 1759 by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) would change the distribution mechanisms for state aid to school districts, using $3 billion in proposed additional funding to ensure that more dollars per pupil would flow to the vast majority of school districts. … (read more…)

The Senate passed a two-year budget plan Tuesday that slightly increases school funding but still leaves Texas public schools well below pre-recession funding levels per pupil. This Senate version of HB 1 thus continues the long-term underfunding of public education while leaving many billions of available dollars unspent and reserving nearly five billion dollars for tax cuts. Sen. Sylvia Garcia, … (read more…)

A bipartisan proposal by leading members of the U.S. Senate could spell the beginning of the end for test-and-punish federal education policy and federalized, test-driven evaluation programs pursued by the U.S. Department of Education.  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Sen. Patti Murray (D-Washington)—the chair and ranking member of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over … (read more…)

On April 7 the Senate Education Committee on a split vote sent a private-school voucher bill to the full Senate, where it could be voted on as early as next week. SB 4 by Rep. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would give away tax dollars owed to the state by private businesses that agree to divert those dollars to pay for vouchers at secular and religious private schools. It’s called a tax credit, … (read more…)

A bill backed by Gov. Greg Abbott to make a modest increase in the state’s investment in pre-K passed in the Texas House by a wide margin on April 9, 128 to 17. The bill, HB 4 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), would add $100 million to the $30 million for pre-K already in the House version of the budget. But that would still be less than the $200 million per budget cycle that the state was … (read more…)

For decades Texas has maintained a minimum salary schedule for teachers, recognizing in state law that there’s something to be said for experience and it ought to be rewarded. For almost as long, an ideological campaign against that minimum salary schedule has been under way, with many unsuccessful attempts to kill it based on the claim that a salary step schedule merely rewards longevity. … (read more…)

A host of bad bills arrived in the Senate Education Committee today for hearings. We’ll update you in the coming days on specifics and the status of the bills, but the theme for most of them revolved around private-school vouchers and “charterization” of public schools.

Louis Malfaro, Texas AFT president, summed up the day in a news release:

Lawmakers today spent a lot of time today pushing … (read more…)

We put out a call to action yesterday: “STAAR is not the measure of good teaching, and teachers are worth more than $27,540 a year!” And thanks go to the thousands of school employees who responded with letters and phone calls to their legislators, along with thousands of social media shares for our campaign. Unfortunately, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill, SB 893 by Kel Seliger … (read more…)

On April 7 the Senate may vote on SB 893 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), a bill that would encourage test-driven teacher evaluations and would repeal the state minimum salary schedule, driving the state minimum down to $27,540 a year for all teachers regardless of experience. At the same time, the House Public Education Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on an identical companion bill, HB … (read more…)

Still more unfortunate bills are coming up for a hearing in committee on Tuesday, including a batch that would take neighborhood public schools by various routes to the same result:  takeover and operation by private entities, especially charter management organizations.

The labels chosen for these bills disguise their content. Thus, SB 895 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) and SB 669 by … (read more…)

In contrast with the series of unfortunate bills described above, SB 1483 by Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) is one of the best bills of the 2015 session, and it has Texas AFT’s enthusiastic support.  While the other bills merely masquerade as school-improvement proposals, the community-school model in SB 1483 is the real deal.

This “all hands on deck” approach is a proven, cost-effective … (read more…)

Texas AFT today opposed SB 1819 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels). The bill is an attempt to roll back a sensible, bipartisan state law enacted in 2001 that allows established residents of Texas who are undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. These students under the U.S. Constitution are entitled to a public education through high school … (read more…)

On March 31 the Texas Senate by a vote of 20 to 10 passed an ill-conceived bill to mimic Florida’s simplistic A-F labeling scheme for campuses. SB 6 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would bring the fad of letter grades for schools to Texas even as the infatuation with this idea is fading in other states such as Virginia, where it was just repealed.

The best thing about SB 6 as it passed … (read more…)

In the Senate Education Committee Wednesday Texas AFT backed legislation by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) to resume state support and funding for reading academies to help teachers in grades K-3 to update their knowledge skills and receive stipends for doing so. Kolkhorst’s SB 925 would resurrect one of the most successful teaching-effectiveness initiatives we’ve seen in recent decades in … (read more…)

The Houston Educational Support Personnel Union, our local affiliate for support employees in Houston ISD, on April 1 kicked off a new Riding Reading Program in collaboration with the district that will get transportation workers involved in efforts to promote literacy for the students riding their school buses. HESP Union President Wretha Thomas announced that bus attendants during the week of … (read more…)

The Texas House debated hundreds of budget amendments overnight but ended up passing a budget that left the House leadership’s priorities intact by a vote of 141 to 5 a bit before dawn on April 1. Those priorities include an extra $800 million for formula funding to school districts, on top of $2.2 billion already in the committee version of HB 1, the general appropriations bill for fiscal … (read more…)

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