TEA offers to waive required service days for hurricane-hit districts; House speaker looks to “prevent unintended punitive consequences” of accountability system

TEA offers to waive required service days for hurricane-hit districts, but no change in exam schedule or test-based ratings:   Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath has delivered good news and bad news to hurricane-impacted school districts and their teachers this week. On Tuesday in a formal letter to superintendents Morath announced that waivers of the 187-day […]

SBOE planning effort; Children’s health insurance at risk; AND A Texas educator’s take on the fight for immigrant rights

State Board of Education stakes claim as long-term education goal-setter:  The State Board of Education began work Tuesday on a Long-Range Plan for Public Education that would establish core goals for the public schools.  The first meeting of a new 18-member steering committee to advise the SBOE focused on models of long-range plans developed by other states. The committee is […]

Senate panel rejects Trump’s blueprint for cuts, vouchers

Our counterparts on the national AFT communications and legislative teams are keeping careful track of developments in Congress affecting funding for education. School districts in Texas and across the United States depend on federal funding for a significant part of their budgets. This year the flow of federal aid has been threatened by budget proposals […]

A Look at TEA’s Plans for Compliance with Every Student Succeeds Act

Come hell or high water, the process of mapping out the state’s implementation of federal requirements that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act goes on. Because of the disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey, however, federal officials gave the Texas Education Agency some extra time to submit the state plan required by the successor federal […]

State, national AFT leaders blast Trump move to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

State and national AFT leaders have issued strong statements against President Trump’s September 5 decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects more than 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children (including 120,000 in Texas). Trump’s executive action leaves a six-month window of opportunity for Congress to […]

TRS-Care health cost increases reduced for retirees—“softening the blow”

After an outcry erupted from thousands of active and retired teachers and other school employees over cost increases imposed on school retirees by the Legislature this spring, lawmakers in their summer special session ponied up an additional $212 million to scale back the increases. The Teacher Retirement System board was given the task of spending […]

News on retiree health care, TEA recapture relief, and new laws effective Sept. 1

Retiree health-care costs on TRS Board agenda:  On September 1 the trustees of the state Teacher Retirement System will confirm the new rates and benefit structures for the TRS-Care health plan for school retirees for calendar years 2018-2019. The revised rates and benefits will reflect the infusion of $212 million in state funds by the Legislature […]

Recapping the special session, part one

We have much to be thankful for in relation to the July-August special session of the Texas Legislature—primarily for the fact that it is over. The session called by Gov. Greg Abbott that ran from July 18 through August 15 ended with Abbott and his sidekick Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick frustrated by their failure to […]

When brutal cost increases and benefit reductions in the state retired teachers’ health-care plan awakened a “sleeping giant,” legislators took notice

TRS-Care bolstered just before the House’s dramatic sine die I retired in May of 2013 after a 29-year teaching career, one in Brownsville ISD and 28 in McAllen ISD.  Before I retired, I looked carefully at the three Teacher Retirement System health-care options (TRS-Care)–tiers 1, 2, and 3.  I chose the one with the best […]

House accepts stripped-down Senate school-funding bill with TRS-Care cost relief, then shuts down special session

The Texas House voted 94 to 46 this evening to accept a stripped-down Senate version of HB 21 on school funding. The Senate amendments to HB 21 eliminated $1.5 billion of the $1.8 billion in the House-passed version, completely eliminating the main sources of any new aid to cash-strapped urban districts–a proposed increase in the […]