Lawsuit settlement ends use of value-added evaluations for Houston teachers

In another huge victory for the right of teachers to be fairly evaluated, Houston ISD agreed, in a settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by seven Houston teachers and our local union– the Houston Federation of Teachers–not to use value-added scores to terminate a teacher as long as the teacher is unable to independently test or challenge the score. The most significant […]

House Public Education Committee hearing confirmed for October 12; Certification board to consider rules implementing new improper-relationship sanctions

House Public Education Committee hearing confirmed for October 12 in Austin:  The Public Education Committee of the Texas House has confirmed it will meet in the state Capitol on October 12 to begin weighing the educational impacts of Hurricane Harvey.  The hearing notice describes the topic as follows: Determine, to the extent possible, the scope […]

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 […]

AFT launches “Essentials for Kids” to provide free supplies to schools: Educators and kids affected by Hurricane Harvey will be initial focus

See below for information on how to apply. The American Federation of Teachers, First Book, and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation Wednesday launched a targeted effort to deliver brand-new books and basic-needs items, in coordination with first responders, educators and volunteers, to areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The partners simultaneously announced the Essentials for […]

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 […]

Dear Friend: Welcome back!

Welcome back to a new school year! Whether you are a teacher, bus driver, parent, student or anyone else associated with our public schools, you are likely caught up in the hustle and bustle, the nervousness, the exhilaration and the rush of this busy and exciting time of year.

House committee hears testimony on vouchers, performance pay, classroom supply reimbursement; AND TRS benefit news

TRS Benefit Bills Get Final House Okay:  Wednesday morning the House gave final approval to two good bills on TRS benefits. The measures now face an uncertain fate in the Texas Senate, which has been less than welcoming of House initiatives for the benefit of school employees. HB 20 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), passed […]

Funding Bill for School-Finance Increases Advancing in House

The House Appropriations Committee voted 22 to 0 today for HB 30 by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond), a bill that would fund school-finance improvements to the tune of $1.9 billion for the coming fiscal 2018-2019 budget period beginning on September 1. The funding bill has strong bipartisan support, as evidenced by that unanimous committee vote. […]

Shifting Momentum at the State Capitol

Some lessons are emerging from the first, Senate-dominated week of the current special legislative session at the state Capitol. Number one:  Strong-arm tactics will only get the governor and lieutenant governor so far. Number two: Counter-pressure works, especially coming from rank-and-file education employees and retirees and friends of public education. Certainly Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick […]

Bad Bills in Texas Senate on Vouchers, Payroll Deduction Meet Bipartisan Resistance

Over the weekend and on Monday, bad bills in the Texas Senate promoting private-school vouchers and attacking your freedom to use payroll deduction met serious bipartisan resistance from grass-roots Texans. So did other measures, including an unfunded pay-raise proposal that would not deliver a real raise to teachers. Meanwhile, in the Texas House, opposition to […]