Attacks Stall on Class-Size Caps, Teacher Pay, Contracts–Keep Calling, Writing Lawmakers

More procedural miscues have kept HB 400, the bill to tear down class-size caps and tear up state pay and contract commitments to teachers, from making a rapid return to the House floor after it was knocked off the House agenda yesterday. The bill by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands, was on its way back to the agenda-setting Calendars Committee today when it suddenly had to be sent back for the second time in two days for clean-up of procedural errors in the House Public Education Committee. That means those of you who have not yet sent your letters or made your calls in opposition to HB 400 still have time to act. You can find links to call and write your representative here. The bill now is not expected to come up sooner than Friday.

At the same time, a Senate bill to give school districts “flexibility” at the expense of teachers and students faces mounting opposition at the grass roots and on the Senate floor. SB 12 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, had been placed on the Senate agenda for a possible vote today, but no vote occurred and late today the bill disappeared from the Senate agenda, at least for the time being. Thanks are due to all of you who have communicated with your senators in opposition to this bill. Keep it up! You can send an online letter to your senator here.

An important factor in the stiffening resistance to SB 12 is the strong stance in opposition to the bill taken this week by Sen. Wendy Davis, Democrat of Fort Worth. Sen. Davis in a message to her constituents today noted that for two months she has worked hard, in collaboration with Texas AFT and other teacher organizations, on measures to ease the impact of budget reductions on school districts, their employees, and students. In the end, however, she found that none of the proposals that actually found their way into SB 12 would give teachers and students meaningful protection from the destructive impact of a budget that “will drastically underfund our public schools.” Sen. Davis added: “I am also concerned that, because the budget bills do not take any step toward solving the structural underfunding of public schools, the tools that we were hoping to put in place on a temporary basis would be used permanently. Teachers, while willing to make a shared sacrifice to take furlough days and salary reductions, should not be asked to sustain those sacrifices permanently. The budget would, in essence, create that systemic problem. And it is one that I cannot support.”