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.

 

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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Texas is nearly unique among the 50 states in imposing criminal penalties for truancy, but that would change under a bill proposed by Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) that was heard Tuesday and immediately approved by the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Whitmire’s committee substitute for SB 6 would make truancy a civil offense and set out extensive procedural safeguards for students and … (read more…)

Among more than 350 amendments to the House budget bill, HB 1, that were pre-filed over the weekend are some that would substantially improve the bill. Two by Rep. Abel Herrero (D-Corpus Christi), would ban any state spending to implement private-school vouchers, either directly or indirectly (through tax credits). Others by Reps. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas), Donna Howard (D-Austin), Armando Walle … (read more…)

SB 6 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), the bill that would have Texas mimic Florida’s ill-conceived A-F rating system for campuses, passed in the Texas Senate by a vote of 20-to-10 this afternoon, but not before it was amended in a couple of important ways.

In order to get the bill okayed in the Senate, Sen. Taylor first amended SB 6 to put off its effective date until the 2017-2018 … (read more…)

At the March 27 hearing of the Texas Senate Education Committee on private-school vouchers, Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) offered up a remarkable rationale for her own voucher bill, SB 276, which would drain taxpayer funds from the public schools to subsidize vouchers for unaccountable private schools. Said Campbell:  “We have a monstrosity, a monopoly. It’s called public school.” … (read more…)

Jimmie Don Aycock

On Wednesday the Senate passed a package of four tax-cut bills backed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. But the Senate majority’s decision to put tax cuts ahead of the state’s neglected funding needs was partially overshadowed by an interesting development in the Texas House.

House Public Education Committee chair Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) held a capitol press conference to say that the House … (read more…)

Action Needed Now!  Now under way in the Texas Senate is a new attempt to drain taxpayer funds from already-underfunded neighborhood public schools to subsidize private schooling for a select few. A hearing on three bills that would implement vouchers in various guises will occur tomorrow in … (read more…)

The House Public Education Committee has approved HB 4 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), which would boost funding for pre-K modestly but would not provide for the full-day pre-K programs for all eligible students backed by Texas AFT and many allies. Though the bill would authorize upwards of $100 million to be spent on pre-K programs that meet certain quality standards, it would not even restore … (read more…)

The House Appropriations Committee approved a 2016-2017 budget bill (HB 1 by Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton) and a supplemental 2015 budget bill (HB 2 by Otto) on Tuesday morning, setting up the likelihood of several days of debate on the House floor next week over spending priorities for the state. Texas AFT’s take on the committee’s work product took the form of this press statement released Tuesday … (read more…)

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday is expected to complete its work on HB 1, the House version of the state budget for 2016-2017.  The bill includes $2.2 billion for improvements in state formula aid to school districts—making at least a modest start toward restoring the level of pre-recession funding from the state.  The committee also has teed up a supplemental appropriations bill … (read more…)

The Texas Senate may soon vote on a batch of tax cuts totaling more than $4.6 billion, but a big segment of the Texas community is telling senators it’s a lousy idea to push through any tax cuts before meeting the state’s neglected needs. In their second strongly worded letter in two weeks to all senators and to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Senate’s presiding officer, seven business groups on … (read more…)

Last week, as the Texas Senate Education Committee was poised to consider a bad “parent trigger” bill that would help private operators take over struggling neighborhood schools, Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro proposed a far better option in an opinion column published by the Houston Chronicle. In that article entitled “Struggling schools don’t need labels or stigma,” Malfaro,  a … (read more…)

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A solution is in sight for the budget shortfall affecting TRS-Care, the state health-insurance plan for retired school employees. Budget leaders in both the Texas House and the Texas Senate have proposed that available … (read more…)

Texas AFT opposed a bill by Sen. Kel Seliger, Republican of Amarillo, in the Senate Education Committee on March 19, because that bill would give the commissioner of education broad new authority to impose statewide appraisal requirements mandating heavy reliance on standardized test scores of a teacher’s students.  The proposal in Seliger’s SB 893 also would preempt local experiments with … (read more…)

“Parent trigger” legislation filed in the Texas legislature this session is billed as parental empowerment, authorizing a majority of parents at a school deemed low-performing for two years to force wholesale removal of faculty and staff, turn it over to private management, or close it. However, when the Senate version of the bill, SB 14 by Republican Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood, came up … (read more…)

Two of the current legislative session’s most threatening bills affecting public education will get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, March 19. SB 14 by Sen. Larry Taylor, Republican of Friendswood would allow two years of low performance ratings at a campus to trigger takeover of the campus by private operators in the guise of “parental empowerment.” SB 893 by Sen. … (read more…)

The early edition of last Friday’s Hotline omitted mention of an important bill in the House Higher Education Committee. Texas AFT supported HB 699 by Rep. Poncho Nevarez, Democrat of Eagle Pass, requiring public institutions of higher education to establish policies concerning campus sexual assaults.

On March 17 Texas AFT also took a stand against college “campus carry” legislation that … (read more…)

Big Brother really is watching. Outrageously, testing giant Pearson is spying on what students are saying on social media.

Right now, students in 12 states and the District of Columbia are taking the multi-state PARCC test. And we’ve learned that Pearson is monitoring what those students say online for “test security.”

(read more…)

The Texas Senate on Tuesday passed a bill by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), to reduce the high stakes attached to passing state end-of-course exams in high school. Under Seliger’s bill, backed by Texas AFT and a wide swath of educator and parent groups, a student who has passed the required courses but has not passed one or two of the five end-of-course exams could still graduate by showing … (read more…)

By a vote of 7 to 3, the state Senate Education Committee passed a bill to establish A-F ratings for every public school in Texas.  Texas AFT shares the objections to this bill voiced vehemently in today’s committee debate by Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), and Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso), who cast the three dissenting votes. Sen. West noted that the Texas PTA, Texas … (read more…)

The Senate Finance Committee today voted to approve billions of dollars in tax cuts without first laying out its plan to meet the state’s obligations in areas like pensions, education, health care, transportation, and more—despite a previous vow to discuss spending priorities before proceeding with tax cuts from committee chair Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). We are reminded of the old adage, … (read more…)

For the second Monday in a row, more than a thousand Texas AFT members came to their state capitol building to rally for increased education funding and sensible strategies for educational improvement. This time around they were joined on the grand front steps of the capitol by legislators who are fighting for bills that embody Texas AFT’s agenda. These lawmakers, of both parties, included: … (read more…)

Nearly a thousand more bills were filed in the Texas legislature on Friday, the 60th day of the 2015 regular session and the last day for filing bills with statewide impact. With 80 days left until adjournment on June 1, lawmakers will have more than 4,000 House bills and 2,000 Senate bills to consider. In the coming days, as the action in House and Senate shifts into a higher gear, the Hotline … (read more…)

While big hearings on pre-kindergarten expansion, A-F school ratings, and full-time, online instruction via “virtual vouchers” engaged our attention this week, Texas AFT’s legislative team also took part in hearings on other important issues and took a stand on other key bills. Examples include:

–Senate Education Committee:  Texas AFT supported SB 13, a bill by Sen. Charles Perry, … (read more…)

SB 6 by Sen. Larry Taylor, Republican of Friendswood, would impose A-F ratings on public schools in Texas in the name of “clarity” and “transparency.” But a Thursday hearing in the Senate Education Committee that Taylor chairs made it clear that simplistic labels like A-F  would not really give parents the information they need to understand what is going on in their child’s … (read more…)

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