capitol-e14108033083241About 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.

 

Key players in the U.S. Senate are making a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip millions of their health insurance. Don’t let them get away with it. The decisive vote on this bad proposal is likely to occur next week.

The Graham-Cassidy bill is being sold as a compromise—but it’s not. It’s just as bad as every form of ACA repeal that we’ve … (read more…)

STAARresults

The Texas Education Agency encourages educators to have a look at what parents see when they log on to the TEA portal giving parents access to student, campus, and district test results. We encourage you to take TEA up on the invitation. The site offers links to a series of pages and videos offering more detail on how to … (read more…)

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Today’s Hotline is a repost of AFT President Randi Weingarten’s column featured in the New York Times and Huffington Post. It highlights the remarkable efforts of our union members in assisting educators impacted by the hurricanes.

Alseen Bell’s cell phone rang as she stood in the living room of her flood-ravaged home, surveying the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey. The … (read more…)

Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo addresses students and faculty to kick off a First Book distribution in Houston. Seated are AFT President Randi Weingarten and Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza.

Mexican-American Studies Text Awaiting State Board’s Okay:  What a difference a year makes in the story of textbook selection for the subject of Mexican-American studies at the State Board of Education. Last year a unanimous SBOE voted against adoption of a proposed text that came under withering attack from scholars over factual errors and reinforcement of racial/ethnic … (read more…)

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TEA offers to waive required service days for hurricane-hit districts, but no change in exam schedule or test-based ratings:   Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has delivered good news and bad news to hurricane-impacted school districts and their teachers this week.

On Tuesday in a formal letter to superintendents Morath announced that waivers of the 187-day … (read more…)

dacacrew

State Board of Education stakes claim as long-term education goal-setter:  The State Board of Education began work Tuesday on a Long-Range Plan for Public Education that would establish core goals for the public schools.  The first meeting of a new 18-member steering committee to advise the SBOE focused on models of long-range plans developed by other states. The committee … (read more…)

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In a national Hart Research poll released today by the American Federation of Teachers, three in four public school parents say the public schools their children attend provide them with an excellent or good education. Some 79 percent of parents are satisfied with their children’s public schools when it comes to helping their children achieve their full potential, according to the (read more…)

Come hell or high water, the process of mapping out the state’s implementation of federal requirements that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act goes on. Because of the disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey, however, federal officials gave the Texas Education Agency some extra time to submit the state plan required by the successor federal statute, the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new due … (read more…)

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See below for information on how to apply.

The American Federation of Teachers, First Book, and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Wednesday launched a targeted effort to deliver brand-new books and basic-needs items, in coordination with first responders, educators and volunteers, to areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The partners simultaneously announced … (read more…)

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State and national AFT leaders have issued strong statements against President Trump’s September 5 decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects more than 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children (including 120,000 in Texas). Trump’s executive action leaves a six-month window of opportunity for Congress to undo this … (read more…)

TRS Changes Link

After an outcry erupted from thousands of active and retired teachers and other school employees over cost increases imposed on school retirees by the Legislature this spring, lawmakers in their summer special session ponied up an additional $212 million to scale back the increases. The Teacher Retirement System board was given the task of spending the money to maximize the benefit of the extra … (read more…)

Retiree health-care costs on TRS Board agenda:  On September 1 the trustees of the state Teacher Retirement System will confirm the new rates and benefit structures for the TRS-Care health plan for school retirees for calendar years 2018-2019. The revised rates and benefits will reflect the infusion of $212 million in state funds by the Legislature … (read more…)

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We are pleased to share here a report from our national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, on AFT President Randi Weingarten’s August 24 Texas back-to-school visit:

Unions are the empowering vehicle that turns member values into action. That was a driving message when AFT President Randi Weingarten visited schools and partners in Austin, Texas, on the … (read more…)

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We have much to be thankful for in relation to the July-August special session of the Texas Legislature—primarily for the fact that it is over. The session called by Gov. Greg Abbott that ran from July 18 through August 15 ended with Abbott and his sidekick Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick frustrated by their failure to achieve some of their top misguided priorities. These included:  a private-school … (read more…)

Areli Zarate

I still get butterflies when I walk into my classroom at the beginning of the school year. I try very hard to transform my classroom into a welcoming place of learning—a sanctuary for all of my students, free from discrimination and racism. But I know that no matter how hard I try, I cannot shield my students from the pain and uncertainty caused by our current administration’s vitriolic … (read more…)

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The Texas House voted 94 to 46 this evening to accept a stripped-down Senate version of HB 21 on school funding. The Senate amendments to HB 21 eliminated $1.5 billion of the $1.8 billion in the House-passed version, completely eliminating the main sources of any new aid to cash-strapped urban districts–a proposed increase in the basic allotment and in bilingual-education aid. Removing these two … (read more…)

zedleramendment

An anti-teacher amendment was rejected decisively by a bipartisan majority in the Texas House late on Monday afternoon. Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) tried to insert the anti-teacher amendment into SB 16, a bill creating a commission to study long-term fixes for school finance and recommend a comprehensive overhaul before the next regular legislative session in January 2019.

Zedler’s amendment … (read more…)

The Texas Senate keeps delaying a vote on increased school funding for 2018-2019 and now has recessed until 4 p.m. Monday. It may be just as well that they are still working out their stance, because what’s on the table so far in the Senate is very little. The $311 million senators have included thus far in their version of HB 21 provides relief for smaller districts, but for urban districts with … (read more…)

You have one more day to send your message to the Texas Senate to support a sensible compromise on school finance, because the Senate has delayed action until Sunday evening on the key House bill, HB 21. (read more…)

taylorsenatecommittee

Speaking in “optimistic opposition” today before the Senate Education Committee, Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro testified against a stingy Senate substitute for the substantial, $1.8-billion school-funding bill passed by the Texas House, HB 21. Malfaro noted that committee chair Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) acknowledged there’s room to negotiate up from the meager $311 million in the … (read more…)

Gov. Abbott 20 for 20 Pin

With six days left in the current 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature, not a single bill has been passed and sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, despite Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s ardent efforts to push through many hot-button proposals, including private-school vouchers and transgender-discrimination mandates.

Still alive in the special session are important school-funding and TRS-Care … (read more…)

Get it Done!

The Texas House and Texas Senate both have passed competing bills providing $212 million to cut rising health-care costs they recently imposed on retired school employees. The House passed HB 20 and the Senate passed an equivalent provision as  part of SB 19 in direct response to grass-roots pressure from retired and active school employees. However, with just a week to go in the current … (read more…)
Hand Shake with Kids Smiling

 

The Texas House on August 7 overwhelmingly approved a school-finance package that would inject $1.9 billion into school districts’ budgets across the state over the next two years. The House … (read more…)

House Sends School-Finance Bills to Senate with Supermajority Support: The Texas House hardly could have made it clearer today—by overwhelming margins, House members sent the Senate a $1.9-billion school-funding bill (HB 21) by a vote of 130 to 13, and they passed a measure (HB 30) to pay for it from the state’s $10-billion-plus reserve … (read more…)
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It was a clean sweep in the Texas House today for three key bills on school funding: HB 21 to increase school aid; HB 30 to pay for the increase; and HB 23 to provide for autism grants within the public schools. All passed easily on second reading, with the first two garnering 131 and 130 votes respectively and the autism grants passing by voice vote. The bills come back up for third and final … (read more…)

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