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.

 

At a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing on school governance today, Texas AFT advised lawmakers to be wary of “magic bullet” fads imposed from the top down by education bureaucrats in Washington or Austin or by local elites. Texas AFT legislative spokesman Ted Melina Raab urged committee members instead to support initiatives coming up from the grass roots—from the parents, … (read more…)

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National groups representing big-city superintendents and state education commissioners have responded to criticisms of the widespread overuse and misuse of standardized achievement tests by vowing to evaluate their testing requirements, with an eye toward eliminating tests deemed to be of poor quality or simply redundant. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten offered these … (read more…)

We have learned that some controversial policies involving the takeover of local school districts are likely topics for discussion at the October 16 hearing of the Texas House Public Education Committee, recently announced on unusually short notice.

One of the scheduled witnesses will be former state Rep. Dee Margo, an El Paso Republican who is now president of the state-appointed board of … (read more…)

A federal appeals court has reinstated the controversial Texas voter-ID law for this year’s November 4 general election, despite a lower court’s emphatic ruling that the law was passed with intent to discriminate against minority voters, who are disproportionately likely to lack one of the law’s prescribed forms of photo ID that must be presented in order to vote in person. The appeals court … (read more…)

The chair of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee has a bone to pick with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the curriculum standards that are supposed to tell teachers what students must learn in each grade and subject. That much was clear from the insistent line of questioning Sen. Kel Seliger, Republican of Amarillo, pursued with witnesses at a hearing in Austin on … (read more…)

We, the people, do not get to decide directly the laws and rules that guide state government’s actions. But once every couple of years comes a moment when the tables are turned and we are the direct decision-makers. That moment is Election Day, when those of us who vote get to decide, by majority rule, which candidates will represent us as state lawmakers in Austin.

We owe it to ourselves, … (read more…)

Three Texas House committee hearings on October 8 foreshadowed themes that will occupy a lot of the legislature’s time in the 2015 regular session that begins in January.

A special committee hearing on transportation funding turned into a broader discussion of the future of the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, also known less formally as the Rainy Day Fund.

A joint hearing of House … (read more…)

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On October 7 three local coalitions in Austin, Dallas, and Houston launched coordinated campaigns for school improvement built around the concept of community schools, with Texas AFT’s local affiliates prominently involved in each effort.

The community-school approach involves not only a full array of educational services for students but also access to a network of support services for … (read more…)

Grant spending proposed by the Texas Education Agency came in for scrutiny at a subcommittee hearing of the Texas House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, October 7. The great bulk of funding for public education flows through TEA to school districts according to per-pupil allocation formulas set by the state, but hundreds of millions of dollars flow via various grants outside the formulas. … (read more…)

There are two notable new developments to report regarding the state response to the identification and hospitalization of an Ebola virus victim in Dallas.

First, Gov. Rick Perry has named a state task force to assess the state’s preparedness and capacity to respond to infectious disease. Among the state officials on the task force is Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. As … (read more…)

The Texas Education Agency is back under sunset review in advance of the 2015 legislative session. Sunset review is intended to gauge how well an agency is doings its job, and the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission in a new report has found considerable fault with TEA’s handling of its contract with the private company that administers the state’s achievement tests. The contract, with NCS … (read more…)

On November 4, Texas voters will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state comptroller, along with a new state legislature. In a number of school districts and community college districts–including Corpus Christi ISD, Austin ISD, and Austin Community College–trustees on local boards will be elected. Also on the ballot in many jurisdictions will be important bond … (read more…)

The hospitalization of a patient with the Ebola virus in Dallas has led to measures to isolate individuals with whom he came in contact, including several Dallas ISD schoolchildren, in order to monitor them for symptoms and prevent (read more…)

AFT President Randi Weingarten offered the following comment on World Teachers’ Day, coming up on October 5:

In my visits to classrooms from Meriden, Conn., to Melbourne, Australia, and from Houston, Texas, to Helsinki, Finland, I see teachers who care deeply about their students and the mighty responsibilities of their job. No matter where in the world an … (read more…)

In just over a month, Texas voters will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state comptroller, along with a new state legislature. The decisions made in the November 4 election will determine whether we can stop the many attacks on public education and make positive change for our students and those who educate them in our public schools and institutions of higher … (read more…)

In Tuesday night’s nationally televised gubernatorial debate between Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott, the differences on the issues between the candidates were many and deep, starting with public education. If you missed the live airing of the debate, you can view it here.

Davis, the Democratic … (read more…)

Share My Lesson, the American Federation of Teachers, and Texas AFT hosted 45 active and retired teachers in Austin the weekend before last for an around-the-clock session of updating and creating more than 200 lesson plans and teaching resources, covering all subjects and grades. These resources are now available for free download on (read more…)

Dan Patrick, the Republican state senator running for lieutenant governor, cannot keep his story straight on the issue of education funding. First he falsely claimed that last year he “led the charge” to restore the $5.4 billion in funding that was slashed in 2011. When that claim was exposed as a “pants on fire” falsehood by media fact-checkers, Patrick started arguing, again falsely, … (read more…)

The second and final debate in the Texas governor’s race will occur Tuesday, September 30, at 8 p.m. Central Time. The debate comes against the backdrop of two developments that ought to make it a difficult moment for Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor.

First, on Friday in his capacity as attorney general Abbott continued his defense of the indefensible school budget cuts and … (read more…)

On August 28 state District Judge John Dietz ruled that the current state system of school funding violates the state’s constitutional duty to provide adequately and equitably for public education. Late on Friday, September 26, Attorney General Greg Abbott confirmed that he would continue to defend this indefensible school-finance system, by filing an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court seeking … (read more…)

Senate Education Committee chair Dan Patrick, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, already has been nailed by the news reporters at Texas PolitiFact for falsely claiming that he “led the charge” to restore the $5.4 billion that was cut from public education in 2011. His actual role, as PolitiFact … (read more…)

Mark your calendar for two key debates in the races for lieutenant governor (7 p.m. Central Time on Monday, September 29) and governor (8 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, September 30)!

In Monday’s one-hour debate, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Democrat of San Antonio, faces off with Sen. Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, courting voters in the contest for lieutenant governor. In Patrick’s … (read more…)

A member of Congress from New York has filed a worthy bill to curb excessive testing in grades 3-8 mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Israel has proposed the Tackling Excessive Standardized Testing (TEST) Act, H.R. 5612, under which states would no longer have to administer standardized tests every year in math and English language arts from third through … (read more…)

In the first gubernatorial debate on September 19, Attorney General Greg Abbott tried mightily to misunderstand a question put to him by his opponent in the governor’s race, Sen. Wendy Davis. She asked if he would quit defending the indefensible school-finance system that has been held unconstitutionally inadequate and inequitable by a state district judge. In particular, she asked if he would … (read more…)

The first gubernatorial debate between Sen. Wendy Davis and Attorney General Greg Abbott confirmed that their differing views on public education will give voters a clear choice this November. Davis showed why she has earned Texas AFT’s backing as a candidate who has fought hard for restored education funding, universal access to pre-K, stopping the overuse and misuse of testing, and more. … (read more…)

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