Legislative Bill Watch

Monday, November 10, was the first day for filing bills for the next legislative session. It’s a day that serves as a signpost that it’s time to start focusing on the issues that matter most for improving public education in Texas. Keeping our communities safe in a pandemic and continuing our investment in our kids amidst an economic crisis will, of course, be our biggest push.

Heading into the next legislative session: We will be focusing on bringing sanity back to our accountability system–most notably by fighting the unrealistic STAAR test that’s still scheduled–along with educating the public about the taxpayer money-drain from corrupt and unaccountable charter-school chains. We also need to keep the promise we’ve made to our retired school employees by protecting their pensions and healthcare.

We’ll be tracking bills of interest to our members here:

Community Schools
House Bill 81 from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (House District 51, D-Austin) filed today would authorize districts to use the community school model as a turnaround plan under accountability laws. It also prohibits the commissioner of education from ordering a campus closure because of accountability sanctions without first giving the campus the opportunity to operate as a community school, and at least two years to implement its community school plan. Community schools are intensive planning programs done in partnership with local communities and have been proven nationwide to have a significant, positive impact on the student performance and the health and viability of the neighborhoods these schools serve.

From Texas AFT President Zeph Capo:

“We commend Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, who has been a tireless supporter of community schools for a good reason–because they work. Community schools are a common-sense way to address struggling campuses by addressing many of the root causes of low accountability scores—such as poverty, hunger, moving households, and healthcare issues. This bill would make sure we can create lasting partnerships with community-service providers, what we call wraparound services, to address these issues instead of just shuttering the neighborhood schools and turning them over the charter operators.”

Fairness and Responsibility with COVID-19
House Bill 47 by Rep. Terry Canales (House District 40, D-Hidalgo County) would allow school employees to make Workers Compensation claims for testing positive for COVID-19. 

“Folks, let’s face the fact that if we’re going to demand putting school employees into unsafe working conditions, we need to take care of them if they do contract the virus instead of denying responsibility,” Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said.