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.

 

We commend to your attention the latest edition of AFT’s American Educator and the Summer 2015 edition of our own Texas Teacher, both loaded with useful information on a wide range of subjects.

The cover article of the (read more…)

Maria Dominguez at AFT's TEACH

We are pleased to share the heartening story of the recognition won by a Texas AFT member from Austin last week at the White House, as ably told by national AFT staff writers:
AFT member Maria Dominguez is an immigration success story. What’s more, she’s a perfect example of why the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that … (read more…)

The 2015 national Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation will not feature in the next edition of anybody’s Texas brag book. Nearly one out of every 10 children in the nation lives in Texas, but our state ranked as one of the ten worst for children—41st among the states in terms of overall child well-being.

Key data behind the overall rating include these:

–One child in … (read more…)

The Social Security Fairness Act is back and gaining cosponsors in Congress. It’s an idea that won’t go away because the injustice it targets has not gone away. For too long, school-district personnel and employees of other local governments in Texas (and a dozen or so other states) have been hammered by two unjust Social Security statutes that take away benefits duly earned by these employees … (read more…)

Former NCLB promo at U.S. Department of Education. (Takomabibelo photo)

The American Federation of Teachers and allied education organizations are pressing the leaders of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to move quickly to reconcile competing rewrites of the No Child Left Behind Act passed in each chamber. The intensive phase of the expected negotiations is expected to start after the August congressional recess. But AFT and allied groups don’t want momentum achieved … (read more…)

The State Board of Education voted unanimously last week to explore alternatives to the new version of the GED (General Educational Development) implemented in Texas by the for-profit Pearson conglomerate. Issues raised by educators and test-takers alike in SBOE testimony included high cost, exam questions demanding more than basic proficiency, and computer-only access to the test.

Problems … (read more…)

For ready reference you will find below the full text of the Texas Teacher Retirement System announcement regarding benefits for same-sex spouses under the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as links to similar announcements of interest to higher-education employees from the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System, and Texas A&M. All … (read more…)

The State Board of Education on July 17 vetoed a charter application that would have allowed an out-of-state, corporate charter network to expand in the Dallas area. The application to enroll up to 7,500 pupils in Dallas charter campuses as part of the Idaho-based Athlos Academies network had been okayed by Commissioner of Education Michael Williams, and it prevailed by a three-to-two margin on … (read more…)

Former NCLB promo at U.S. Department of Education. (Takomabibelo photo)

The U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon voted for an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act that would eliminate federal mandates to states to judge educational performance based on standardized testing. The legislation also specifically prohibits any federal directive to use students’ scores on standardized tests as the basis for teacher evaluation. The vote on final passage of this bipartisan … (read more…)

Center for American Progress Photo

In a stirring speech at the biennial convention of the Texas AFL-CIO in Austin on Thursday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten bluntly explained why powerful moneyed interests have been pushing anti-union

(read more…)

A recycled application to open charter campuses in Dallas eventually serving up to 7,500 students won narrow approval in a State Board of Education committee meeting today. The application by an outfit doing business as Athlos Academy, with extensive ties to out-of-state business interests, was recently blessed by Commissioner of Education Michael Williams, though last year a similar application … (read more…)

Former NCLB promo at U.S. Department of Education. (Takomabibelo photo)

The U.S. Senate has rejected yet another voucher amendment to the rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, S. 1177. The latest voucher amendment called for funding for each economically disadvantaged pupil to “follow the child,” specifically

(read more…)

At the AFT TEACH conference on educational issues this week in the nation’s capital, the Texas experiment with community schools was at the center of a session showing how union and community can combine forces to support disadvantaged children. Attendees heard the story of an effective response by Austin ISD, Education Austin (Texas AFT’s affiliate in the district), parents, and community … (read more…)

ThinkstockPhotos-471621160

State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, has taken a look at the performance data of Texas charter schools and traditional public schools operated by independent school districts, and his findings give cold comfort to charter proponents. Here’s Ratliff’s report on those findings and his conclusions published July 13:

Every year the Texas Education … (read more…)

Texas AFT will take part in discussions of health coverage for both retirees and current school employees at the Texas Teacher Retirement System on Tuesday, July 14. First, an informal meeting with TRS officials will allow Texas AFT and other stakeholders to talk about options for future funding and benefits under TRS-ActiveCare and school-district health plans. Second, at a formal meeting of the … (read more…)

The American Federation of Teachers on July 11 endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in the 2016 election. The decision, by an overwhelming vote of the AFT executive council made up of national, state, and local leaders, came after the most extensive outreach AFT has ever done leading up to a primary endorsement.

AFT conducted a phone survey … (read more…)

Action in the U.S. Senate continued Thursday on the overdue rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act and will spill over into next week. So far, no amendments have been adopted that would derail the bipartisan drive in the Senate to return to the original purposes of the underlying Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed 50 years ago to focus federal resources on high-need students and … (read more…)

Next week the State Board of Education meets for the first time under the chairmanship of Donna Bahorich, recently appointed as chair by Gov. Greg Abbott. Though SBOE members are elected from 15 districts around the state, the governor gets to name which elected SBOE member will serve as chair. The Bahorich appointment drew considerable criticism last month because the new chair has had little … (read more…)

Sculpture at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, OH to commemorate signing of the "No Child Left Behind" Act in the school's gymnasium in 2001. Photo by StrangerInterlude.

Both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House voted today against amendments to “voucherize” federal aid to education. In the Senate, an amendment by Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, would have eliminated federal funding for specific programs and instead would have provided states with $2,100 per eligible pupil to use for public or private schooling. The amendment was rejected by a … (read more…)

Texas Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments sooner than many had expected in the school-finance lawsuit filed by hundreds of school districts against the state. September 1 is the appointed date for the court to take up the case. At issue is whether the state is meeting its obligations under the state constitution to provide adequately and equitably for the education of more than … (read more…)

The U.S. Senate today began considering the Every Child Achieves Act, aiming to leave behind the multiple follies of the No Child Left Behind Act and of the Race to the Top program that furthered NCLB’s test-and-punish agenda. Many amendments are due to be debated over the next few days, but it’s worth noting how big a change this bill would make in federal education policy, regardless of what … (read more…)

AFT President Randi Weingarten has a message for you. You have a moment of opportunity right now to help pass the long-overdue rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, which is finally coming to a vote in the U.S. Senate on July 7. Here is President Weingarten’s heads-up concerning what this opportunity means and how to seize the moment:

(read more…)

abottcommoncore2

June 21 was the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign bills, veto them, or let them take effect without his signature. Abbott vetoed a total of 42 bills and a number of line items in the state budget by the deadline. One veto of an education bill was especially noteworthy.

That bill was SB 313 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), which would have required the State Board of Education to review and … (read more…)

ThinkstockPhotos-122412490

We are pleased to report that the budget bill signed by Gov. Abbott on June 20 will restore funding at long last for the program of tuition scholarships for educational aides who enroll in college courses to become teachers. This highly successful and effective program, whose budget was cut to zero in 2011, will receive an infusion of $1.5 million over the 2016-2017 biennium. Credit for getting … (read more…)

The Hotline will take a holiday from now through July 5, with occasional exceptions. For instance, you can expect a Hotline message to cover any vetoes by Gov. Greg Abbott affecting public education and education employees. His deadline to veto, sign, or just allow bills to become law is June 21. … (read more…)

Read all Hotlines…