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.

 

The budget-writing Texas Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a series of February hearings that will help to shape 2016-2017 funding for education from pre-K through college and university. Funding for Texas public schools through the Texas Education Agency will be on the hearing agenda for February 9, as will the budget overseen by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. On February 11, … (read more…)

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The national Coalition for Community Schools has called for a new emphasis on school-community partnerships as Congress begins another attempt to rewrite federal education law. This community-school approach makes the neighborhood school a community hub for a full array educational, health, employment and other services for students and their families, with grass-roots decision-making shared by … (read more…)

Texas AFT recently concluded a lawsuit filed on behalf of former members in North Forest ISD who lost their teaching positions after the commissioner of education closed the school district.
The final judgment signed by a Harris County district court judge made more than $192,000 available for distribution to AFT members who were affected by the district’s … (read more…)

The Texas League of United Latin American Citizens (Texas LULAC), a leading voice for Hispanic Texans, has issued a new policy statement urging investment in neighborhood public schools–not vouchers, home-rule charter policies, full-time virtual schooling, or lifting the cap on charter schools–as a method to improve educational quality and equity.
Texas LULAC said … (read more…)

The Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in the Texas House have come out this week with a joint program of support for fixing the school-finance system, bilingual-education programs, greater access to higher education, and ending the use of high-stakes standardized testing. Nearly 70 organizations participated in a 15-month series of briefings and regional … (read more…)

Louis Malfaro, who had been serving as Texas AFT’s secretary-treasurer since 2010, was named president of Texas AFT by the union’s executive council in a meeting on January 24. Malfaro replaces Linda Bridges, who died unexpectedly on January 13.
The union’s executive council also approved the selection of John O’Sullivan to replace Malfaro as … (read more…)

The Texas Senate has produced its own first draft of the state budget for 2016-2017, putting its priority on business tax cuts. Under the Senate budget bill, SB 2, as described today by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his appointee as head of the Senate Finance Committee, Republican Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, $4 billion would be devoted to tax cuts–$1 billion in the form of reduced business … (read more…)

The Texas House and Senate have invited new Gov. Greg Abbott to give his first State of the State address on February 17 at 11 am. Gov. Abbott has said he will use the speech to emphasize three priorities:  education, border security, and roads. The Hotline will report on what he has to say. … (read more…)

On January 26 Rep. Rick Miller, Republican of Sugar Land, filed the session’s second private-school voucher bill, HB 895. This one would let businesses fund private-school tuition and get their state business taxes reduced for doing so. The effect of this tax-credit voucher scheme would be to channel to private schools tax revenue that otherwise would go into the state treasury. … (read more…)

In addition to naming a new Senate Education Committee (see January 23 Hotline), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week appointed three other key panels with  jurisdiction over education funding, higher education, and retirement benefits for education employees. See if your senator is on one or more of these committee … (read more…)

Application deadlines for four valuable scholarship opportunities are approaching soon. The Robert G. Porter Scholars Program of the American Federation of Teachers annually offers two kinds of opportunities:

(1) four 4-year, $8,000 post-secondary scholarships to students who are dependents of AFT members; and
(2) 10 one-time $1,000 grants to AFT members to assist with their continuing … (read more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer of the Texas Senate, announced his appointments Friday to the 14 Senate committees of the 2015 legislative session. The roster of the Senate Education Committee is as follows:

Larry Taylor, chair (Republican of Friendswood)
Eddie Lucio, Jr., vice chair (Democrat of Brownsville)
Paul Bettencourt (Republican of Houston)
Donna Campbell (Republican of … (read more…)

In order to get out from under ill-conceived federal mandates and sanctions in the No Child Left Behind Act, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams obtained a conditional waiver in 2013 requiring Texas to develop new, test-driven teacher evaluations. But he and his Texas Education Agency lack the legal authority to impose the new model on school districts, which have the power under state law … (read more…)

When state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Republican of Killeen, talks about education issues, people around the state capitol tend to pay careful attention. That’s because Aycock is likely to continue in the 2015 legislative session as chair of the House Public Education Committee. (Speaker Joe Straus has not yet announced his committee appointments.)

Hence Rep. Aycock caused a bit of commotion … (read more…)

Your Second Chance to Tell Lawmakers Retired and Active School Employees Need More State Funding for Health Care Now!   Send your letter now!

Every year, active and retired educators are paying ever greater health-care costs yet get declining benefits. Premiums paid by active … (read more…)

Every year, active and retired educators are paying ever greater health-care costs yet get declining benefits. Premiums paid by active school employees for their major statewide plan, TRS-ActiveCare, have nearly quadrupled over the last 12 years while benefits have been cut almost every year. Local health plans offered by school districts have followed the same pattern. Over … (read more…)

Last year a Houston hedge-fund billionaire named John Arnold and other, undisclosed individuals decided they knew what was best for Dallas ISD, so they funded a petition forcing creation of a “home rule” charter commission to propose changes in district policy and governance. Their goal was to transform all of Dallas ISD into a charter school district that would not have to meet many state … (read more…)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Republican majority caucus in the Texas Senate carried out a significant power grab today, changing Senate rules to reduce the number of votes needed to pass controversial legislation. Until today, it generally has required 21 votes to bring a bill up for consideration on the Senate floor. Under today’s rule change, it will take only 19. By sheer coincidence, … (read more…)

On education issues, we are not sure how much difference there will be between Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when it comes right down to it. But in their inaugural addresses after being sworn in on the front steps of the state capitol today, their rhetoric sounded different.

Lt. Gov. Patrick made an ardent appeal for private-school vouchers (“school choice,” in his lexicon) as … (read more…)

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has an urgent message for you–we have our best chance in years to correct the test obsession fostered by the No Child Left Behind Act, and we should seize the moment.

As the U.S. Senate committee with jurisdiction over education policy begins hearings this week on how to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently … (read more…)

A memorial service for the late Texas AFT President Linda Bridges, who died on January 13, will be held in Corpus Christi on Thursday, January 22, at 4:30 pm at the Communications Workers of America Hall, 1210 South Staples Street, Corpus Christi, Texas 78404. … (read more…)

On January 15 the Texas House released a first draft of the state budget that falls short of even a bare-bones level of funding that would maintain current state services. It would take about $102 billion in general revenue to maintain current services, and the initial House proposal for 2016-2017 comes in about $3 billion below that, at $98.8 billion. For public education, the bill purportedly … (read more…)

On this holiday in honor of the great civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which this year comes as we head deeper into what may well be an extremely difficult state legislative session, we would like to share with you an apposite quotation from Dr. King:

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular? … (read more…)

Members of the Texas House of Representatives observed a moment of silence on the House floor today in honor of Texas AFT President Linda Bridges, who passed away Tuesday. The official observance this morning came at the request of two state representatives, Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio). Both spoke in warm appreciation of President Bridges’ … (read more…)

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, Republican of San Antonio, was easily re-elected on the first day of the 84th regular legislative session Tuesday, winning a fourth term at the helm of the House with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 127 to 19. In the wake of that triumph, Straus forcefully made the case for adhering to what he termed “a fair process that points us toward common ground” … (read more…)

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