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Texas AFT Higher Education News

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More than 2,000 Texas AFT members and allies from across Texas rallied on the front steps of the Texas Capitol Monday and brought their strong grass-roots presence to bear in scores of visits with individual legislators.

They came together in support of a strong, proactive agenda for public education and the schoolchildren and higher-ed students they serve. Key elements of that agenda: … (read more…)

With their new rosters in place, the House Public Education Committee and House Higher Education Committee have slated their first meetings of the 2017 session for Tuesday and Wednesday next week, respectively. Texas AFT will keep close tabs on both as bills of interest to our members come up before these two legislative panels.

Here’s the roster of state representatives on the House Public … (read more…)

Marathon hearings on funding for higher education have been under way in the state Senate Finance Committee Wednesday and Thursday. Texas AFT and allies in these hearings are making the case for key programs that enhance educational opportunities in both preK-12 and higher education.

A highlight of Wednesday evening’s testimony came when representatives of the Texas Association for … (read more…)

The AFT Porter Scholars Program is now accepting applications for 2017. The program offers two great opportunities for AFT members and their dependents. There is a one-time grant being awarded to ten members in the amount of $1,000 each; also available are four $8,000 scholarships for high school seniors who are dependents of active members in good standing. To access the online application and … (read more…)

Deb Clinic at Lone Star College

The message is getting through: There are better ways to pay off your student debt.

According to new numbers from the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 5.3 million people are lowering their monthly student loan payments through income-based repayment plans—a 36 percent increase since last year, and a 110 percent increase since 2014. Public service loan forgiveness is also attracting … (read more…)

In recent testimony on state agencies’ budget requests, Texas AFT’s Government Relations team has seized the chance to urge investments in community colleges and in college scholarships for paraprofessionals seeking teaching degrees.  The testimony was delivered at joint hearings of the Legislative Budget Board staff and the staff of the Governor’s Budget Office. These hearings held in … (read more…)

Hot Topics:  Hearings on Education, Labor, Revenue

Texas AFT’s government-relations team will be working overtime next week as state lawmakers convene in Austin for a spate of hearings on education, labor, and revenue topics. The legislative hearings will overlap with a week-long series of State Board of Education meetings in the capital city as well. (We’ll preview next … (read more…)

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, today welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s four-to-three decision upholding the admissions policy of the University of Texas against a constitutional challenge. Weingarten said:

“The AFT, as the nation’s largest union of faculty and a longtime champion of … (read more…)

Notable legislative hearings and agency board meetings for the summer include:

June 21:  One clear theme of today’s House Higher Education Committee was the legislature’s continuing quest for cost-conscious ways to increase college attendance and completion, especially in educational settings such as community colleges … (read more…)

This week Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference to decry rising costs of public higher education for Texas families since the Legislature delegated tuition-setting authority to the universities and colleges nearly 15 years ago. Patrick spotlighted data showing tuition and fees have gone up 147 percent since 2002 while median household income of Texans rose only 32 percent over the … (read more…)

The Texas Senate’s committees on education and higher education met jointly March 29 to look at the effects of recent changes in state graduation requirements and options for addressing teacher shortages in fields such as bilingual and special education.

At the urging of parents, educators, and a concerned public at large, the Texas legislature has scaled back the number of standardized state … (read more…)

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Texas AFT will take part in two important hearings at the state capitol this week. On Tuesday, March 29, at 9 a.m. the Senate’s Education Committee and Higher Education Committee will hold a joint meeting on the implementation of revised graduation standards and new graduation pathways enacted in 2013. The meeting also will address teacher shortages in key areas such as bilingual education and … (read more…)

Weingarten and fellow activists outside a 2013 Sallie Mae shareholders’ meeting, where they called on executives to meet with students about college debt. Photo by Michael C. Campbell

We highly recommend a (read more…)

A wide-ranging hearing of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education touched on many aspects of college access, with emphasis on the role of community colleges in making higher education accessible and affordable. The committee was especially interested in the pros and cons of developing baccalaureate-degree programs at community colleges.

Among several other topics discussed was the growth … (read more…)

The legislature is not in session, but interim committees are getting busy. Four hearings coming up next week will bear watching. They are:

House Public Education Committee, Tuesday, February 9: The committee will review current state education policies and initiatives regarding middle grades. The hearing will include an examination of school-based strategies and best practices … (read more…)

A meeting of the House Higher Education Committee has been scheduled for January 20 to consider the new higher-education strategic plan for Texas as proposed by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, dubbed “60x30TX.” Under the plan, Texas would aim by 2030 to have 60 percent of Texans in the 25-to-34 age group attain a post-secondary certificate or degree.

On January 26, the … (read more…)

Former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby used to say that the only must-pass bill the legislature ever considers is the budget, and the rest is poetry. With that axiom in mind, take a look at some of the interim-study assignments given by the presiding officers in the Texas House and Texas Senate to their respective budget-writing committees. They are harbingers of what’s to come.

Yesterday’s Hotline gave you the full list of interim assignments issued by Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to the House Public Education Committee. Today we share with you the interim charges given to the House Committee on Higher Education:

1. Conduct a review of current funding formulas for community colleges. … (read more…)

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Since October 8, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has issued four batches of interim study assignments to Texas Senate committees, giving us a good preview of his priorities for the next legislative session. (A fifth and final batch is scheduled for release

(read more…)

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Universal, free community college is edging closer and closer to reality. President Obama announced Sept. 9 that his America’s College Promise proposal, a guarantee of two years of free community college for any qualified student, is now backed by a new College Promise campaign and an advisory board of 32 education advocates—including AFT President Randi Weingarten. The board will work with … (read more…)

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The two-year budget bill passed by the legislature in May provides $1.5 million for tuition exemptions for educational aides who take courses toward teacher certification in a critical shortage subject area at Texas public institutions of higher education. Funding for this valuable program of need-based exemptions was zeroed out in the budget-slashing session of 2011, but the program remained on … (read more…)

This week the national media seem to have discovered there is a shortage of teachers in many parts of the country, especially a shortage of teachers prepared to serve in low-income schools or high-need subject areas. For devotees of free-market economics, one is tempted to say the supply-and-demand solution to this problem should be blindingly obvious: higher pay. It also would make sense to … (read more…)

One of the major unmet education needs in Texas and the whole country is in higher education, where an affordability crisis has been putting college out of reach or making student debt ever more burdensome for most families. Financial aid has not kept up with rising costs in Texas in the wake of tuition deregulation. There is a pressing need for good policy ideas to deal with this issue, and AFT … (read more…)

For ready reference you will find below the full text of the Texas Teacher Retirement System announcement regarding benefits for same-sex spouses under the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as links to similar announcements of interest to higher-education employees from the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas System, and Texas A&M. All … (read more…)

On February 20 Texas AFT testified before a key House budget-writing subcommittee in support of the funding increases needed for public education and education employees in Texas. On February 23 that same panel, the House Appropriations subcommittee on education funding, will hear from us again on the funding needs of community colleges.

Also on February 23 the House Pensions Committee will … (read more…)