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.


AFT President Randi Weingarten used her November 16 “What Matters Most” column to lay out some home truths about the U.S. economy and the rising importance of career and technical education to help Americans get ahead. We reprint her column on “The Promise of Career and Technical Education” here:

On the surface, the latest jobs … (read more…)


November 20 was a national day of action in support of community schools as an effective strategy for school improvement and an effective alternative to failed test-and-punish accountability policies. In Texas, community-school advocates including our Texas AFT affiliates in Houston ISD, Dallas ISD, and Austin ISD took part in the advocacy campaign.

The marquee event of the day in Texas was a … (read more…)

Setting a Cap on Spending Growth:  On December 1 the Legislative Budget Board, made up of legislative leaders and members of the Texas House and Senate, will set an important limit on the rate of growth in state spending for the coming two-year budget period (fiscal 2016-2017, beginning September 1, 2015). Unless a majority of lawmakers in each chamber vote specifically to … (read more…)

The State Board of Education by a split vote approved a batch of social-studies textbooks submitted by publishers after much debate and testimony pro and con. Some significant improvements were made on certain topics; for instance, the salience of conflict over slavery as a cause of the Civil War was clarified, and passages in some texts obscuring the strong scientific consensus on human activity … (read more…)

Trustees of the Texas Teacher Retirement System received a positive report from independent actuaries this week on the financial condition of the TRS pension fund. The pension trust fund earned an annual return of 16.8 percent and ended the 2014 fiscal year at a market value of $132.8 billion, up from $117.4 billion a year earlier. The fund’s actuarial soundness stems not only from such robust … (read more…)

Our friends at TexasISD.com, a valuable online source of Texas education news, have reported some interesting findings on the less well-known outcomes of this year’s elections. Many school bonds and tax-rate proposals were on the ballot, and the vast majority of them won the approval of voters.

Joe Smith of Texas ISD.com reports that more … (read more…)

Texas AFT President Linda Bridges issued this statement responding to President Obama’s speech on immigration policy Thursday evening:

President’s executive action on immigration is a needed first step for schools required by law to educate children of parents without legal status

The … (read more…)

While the State Board of Education continues to tussle the rest of this week over allegations of bias in proposed social-studies textbooks up for Board approval, other matters also are on the agenda. For example, Board members are deciding on their legislative recommendations for the 2015 session that will start January 13. On Wednesday Board members winnowed their wish list down to a tentative … (read more…)

The State Board of Education struggled Tuesday toward resolution of a raft of complaints about bias perceived in proposed textbooks up for Board approval. Many complaints from an earlier round of public testimony have been resolved, but others have emerged.

Publishers have corrected some language in draft textbooks that would have downplayed slavery as a cause of the Civil War. Also modified in … (read more…)


Soon-to-be Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Houston Republican who currently chairs the Senate Education Committee, used that chairmanship to recycle some failed proposals Monday, including private-school vouchers in various guises. Sen. Patrick brought in witnesses who could be counted on to sing the praises of vouchers, charter-school expansion, and so-called “parent trigger” laws that allow public … (read more…)

Transparency is important when it comes to making decisions about our economy, jobs, safety, and the environment. Unfortunately, in the current lame-duck session of Congress, we expect corporations to push for a policy that undercuts the public’s voice on international trade agreements through what they call “fast-track” legislation.

(read more…)

The staff of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended legislative changes in the operations of the Texas Education Agency and State Board for Educator Certification at a commission hearing Wednesday. Texas AFT will testify tomorrow in support of some proposed changes but in opposition to others.

Of special concern is the proposed abolition of the certification board and handover of its … (read more…)

The 2015 session of the Texas legislature will not start until noon next January 13, but the pre-filing of bills for that session has begun today. Already hundreds of bills have been pre-filed, and as usual many of these early bills relate to public education. Some of the most noteworthy include:

HB 45 by Rep. Armando Martinez, Democrat of Weslaco, would require a Teacher Retirement System … (read more…)

The Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee has announced a hearing for December 9 to “monitor the actuarial and financial conditions of the pension and health care programs administered by the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and the Employees Retirement System (ERS).” Texas AFT will be on hand to monitor the senators doing the monitoring. We anticipate some discussion of the TRS study of … (read more…)

Share My Lesson, the fast-growing online community for educators who want to share teaching resources, has unveiled an extended early-childhood education catalog. Since the Web site was launched in 2012, it has grown to 635,000 members who share nearly 300,000 K-12 resources. Share My Lesson now includes resources that address our youngest learners. Teachers, parents, community leaders, and school … (read more…)

Yesterday’s Hotline noted in passing that Texas Lt.-Gov.-elect Dan Patrick will use his current perch as chair of the Senate Education Committee to conduct a hearing on private-school vouchers (in various guises and without using the word “voucher”) on November 17 at the state capitol. The agenda for that hearing also will address expansion of charter schools in Texas and a couple of other … (read more…)

A Republican sweep of all seriously contested races on the Texas ballot Tuesday has left the party in continuing control of every statewide elected office and with stronger majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The partisan breakdown of the legislature in 2015 will be:

–20 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the Texas Senate; and

–98 Republicans and 52 Democrats in the Texas … (read more…)

After an election night that saw a national tide affecting the outcome of state races from coast to coast, it seems appropriate to begin our assessment of the 2014 election results with a statement on the big picture from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. (We will focus on key Texas and local results in the next Hotline). Said Weingarten:

The polls will be open all across Texas on Tuesday, November 4, from 7 am to 7 pm.  If you have not voted yet, this is your chance. If your family and friends have yet to vote, this is your chance to nudge them to the polls.

You can find out where to go vote here:  http://votetexas.gov/voting/where/.  At this site you can use the Online … (read more…)

We’ve been told that some of you had trouble getting access to the livestream of Wednesday’s highly informative and lively debate between the two major-party candidates for state comptroller. Well, you’re in luck, because the rapid-fire, 30-minute exchange between Democrat Mike Collier (backed by Texas AFT) and Republican state Sen. Glenn Hegar is now available for viewing here: (read more…)

The general election to decide who governs Texas (and some local school boards, too) is coming down to the final few days.  You can still take advantage of one more day of early voting, October 31. Or you can vote on Tuesday, November 4, from 7 AM to 7 PM.

Soon we’ll see whether voters have figured out the stark choice on education issues that faces them in this election. On one side, … (read more…)

For more than 20 years and a dozen legislative sessions, the Texas legislature has defeated one proposal after another that would have diverted scarce taxpayer dollars from public schools and transferred the money to unaccountable private schools. Just last year there was a test of legislative sentiment on the issue in the Texas House, and by a bipartisan supermajority of 103 to 43 your state … (read more…)


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…)


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…)


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…)

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