Dec. 16, 2022: Lubbock Racial Discrimination Challenge; Bills We Are Watching; Rep. Erin Gamez is Substitute Certified
Publish Date: December 16, 2022 6:00 pm Author: Texas AFT
Texas AFT offices will be closed for winter break from Monday, Dec. 19, through Monday, Jan. 2. The next Hotline will hit your inbox Friday, Jan. 6. May your holidays be happy, warm, and restful.
This week, state Rep. Erin Gamez received training to be a substitute teacher in Brownsville ISD.
Brownsville ISD, like many districts around the state, is currently experiencing a teacher shortage, with employees in different departments being assigned to teach in classrooms earlier this year. Gamez is a steadfast champion for public schools and a strong ally to Texas AFT. We’re proud that the Texas House has a newly elected official who has first-hand, classroom experience and who is taking steps to address the educator shortage in her community.
Bills to Watch: A Preview of the 88th Legislature
As of today, over 1,300 bills have been filed by Texas legislators for the upcoming session, starting in January. Among them are bills that align with our Respect Agenda and could be hugely important to educators and students:
HB 882 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would significantly increase the basic allotment for public school funding and would link annual increases to the Consumer Price Index to ensure that schools have the resources teachers and students need.
SB 109/HB 332 by José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) and Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would provide Teacher Retirement System retirees with a much-needed, one-time cost-of-living adjustment.
HB 31 by Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) & HB 135 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would require that public schools be funded based on enrollment, instead of attendance. This is an important change because 300,000 students are undercounted when attendance-based funding is used. Enrollment-based funding is much more accurate and would account for the number of students actually served.
HB 97 by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) would walk back some of the censorship rules placed on teachers and students during the last legislative session.
Meanwhile, there are bills to watch out for, including several that would encourage more privatization at the expense of local public schools:
HB 557 by Cody Vasut (R-Angleton ), HB 619 by Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), and SB 176 by Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) are various forms of voucher bills that have one thing in common: diverting taxpayer dollars away from real public schools.
HB 983 by Rep. Terri Leo-Wilson (R-Galveston) would remove the only local control that elected officials have to determine where charter schools are built or located. This bill would give charter schools a free pass to avoid local oversight even though charters do not have elected boards, do not need voter approval for new buildings, and do not hold local meetings to determine where best to build for the community, the way real public schools do.
Stay tuned to the Hotline for weekly updates on bills to watch. You can follow bills that have already been filed and set up bill alerts at the Texas Legislature Online.
The 88th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10, and we have work to do to accomplish real change for Texas public schools & school employees. Texas AFT has rolled out our union’s Respect Agenda, and we want to make sure our members statewide know what’s at stake in Austin.
All Texas AFT members are invited to this 90-minute webinar, led by Texas AFT’s legislative team, about what to expect in the session and how you can get involved.
This Monday, the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), the Lubbock NAACP, parents, and students joined together to challenge racial discriminatory practices in Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Slaton ISD.
The groups, represented by attorneys from Ellwanger Law, ACLU of Texas, and the Texas Civil Rights Project, filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The complainants stated that Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Slaton ISD failed to protect Black students experiencing harassment and inappropriately disciplined Black students.
The complaint against Slaton ISD states that the districts sent Black students to the district’s disciplinary alternative educational program (DAEP) without any evidence, a violation of state and federal procedures. The complaint also includes multiple reports from Black students in the district who repeatedly received racially motivated taunts and threats from their peers, while the district consistently failed to adequately address these issues.
The complaint against Lubbock-Cooper ISD describes constant, racially motivated bullying of Black children across the district. Black students reported hearing racial slurs, monkey noises, and the sounds of cracking whips as they walked through the school halls. The white students who were projecting these racist noises were never punished or investigated by the district, even after parents filed frequent and consistent reports to the district.
The complaints filed with the OCR include a number of specific demands of the districts to resolve the reported issues. These demands include revising district anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, requiring staff to receive training on school discipline practices, and creating systems from student and parent input, among others.
The OCR enforces Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs, including public schools. The OCR will decide whether to open an investigation into these recent complaints. Notably, the OCR is already reviewing two existing complaints filed by Lubbock-Cooper ISD families in April 2022.
Texas Teachers of Tomorrow, edTPA Headline State Board for Educator Certification’s Final 2022 Meeting
The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met in Austin on Dec. 9, and the board’s final agenda of the year had a few noteworthy items.
The board received an update from staff on the agreed order for A+ Texas Teachers’ (also known as Texas Teachers of Tomorrow). After years of teacher candidate complaints and compliance shortfalls, the state’s largest alternative certification provider failed its most recent audit by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Texas Teachers of Tomorrow will present arguments against TEA’s claims before a judge in the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The outcome of the hearing could lead to the company’s accreditation being revoked or SOAH could grant the company another opportunity to correct the issues. The primary discussion in the boardroom was about how to support teacher candidates who may still be in the certification pipeline if A+ ceases operations.
The board also continued its ongoing discussion on the edTPA, the Pearson-created teacher performance assessment (TPA). The wide-ranging and robust conversation included possible alternative pathways to certification, like a teacher residency model. The board also discussed creating a Texas-specific performance assessment and “carve outs” for certain content areas like fine arts or career and technical education.
Despite many opportunities, TEA has failed to meaningfully engage with stakeholders on what it proposes to be the new statewide certification exam. Texas AFT does not support edTPA, nor any TPA as a certification exam. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure the rigor of educator preparation programs and an equitable certification process.
Happy Holidays from Texas AFT Corporate Supporter Horace Mann
We’re grateful for our clients, colleagues, family, and friends this holiday season. From all of us at Horace Mann, we wish you connection and joy in the year to come. Horace Mann and your local representative are here to help and always just a click away.
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