This year, we need your input as we form our union’s strategy for the upcoming legislative session. Check your email for a message from Texas AFT with the subject line “2022 Membership Survey.” (We’ve texted you a link too!)
Every member who completes the survey by Friday, Dec. 9, will be entered to win one of five $100 gift cards!
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Releases Legislative Priorities
Ahead of the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 10, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has released his 21 legislative priorities, including a number of items related to K-12 and higher education.
While the priorities Patrick listed at his Wednesday press conference are mostly “concepts” at this stage, Texas AFT sees promise in some of the lieutenant governor’s education items:
Raising teacher pay
A cost-of-living adjustment or 13th check for retired educators
Continued investments in school safety
“It’s no secret we disagree with the lieutenant governor on many things,” said Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT, in a statement. “But if he’s ready to dig in on increasing pay so Texas teachers don’t lag $7,500 behind their national peers or make sure our retired teachers can afford to pay their bills, our union is ready to work with him.”
Texas AFT has made each of those areas central components of our own legislative agenda, and we will be pushing for a $10,000 across-the-board raise for teachers (and a 15% raise for support staff), an annual COLA for retired educators, and a significant increase to the basic allotment that funds our schools.
It’s clear that our union’s Respect Agenda for the Texas Legislature — with calls for teacher and staff pay raises, closing class size loopholes, increasing state funding for schools, and giving retirees a permanent COLA — is a unifying agenda.
Here’s how you can help show that:
Sign on to our demands: If you haven’t signed your name at pledge.texasaft.org, what are you waiting for? Thousands of AFT members and public education supporters have done so already!
Text for Respect on Dec. 5: We want to reach as many of the 656,000 school employees in this state as possible. Can you help us build the coalition we need to win? Join us for a texting mixer on Monday, Dec. 5. All you need is a phone or computer and a passion for public schools.
Spread the word: If you’re ready to fight for the respect you deserve, the biggest thing you can do is take that fight to your own community. Share your support on social media. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about what the Respect Agenda would mean to you. You can even urge your school board to stand with you.
Dec. 8: End-of-Year Member Meeting
Don your finest, ugliest holiday sweater and join your union for a special member meeting to close out 2022. While it was a difficult year, we have much to celebrate. At our year-end member meeting, we’ll:
Showcase incredible wins our members and local unions had on employee pay raises
Recap the midterm elections and explain why there’s hope for the 2023 legislative session
Go over the key demands in our Respect Agenda for the Texas Legislature & talk about our plan to win
ACLU Calls for Civil Rights Investigations of Frisco ISD and Keller ISD Over Anti-Transgender Policies
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called for an investigation of Frisco ISD and Keller ISD over newly implemented policies that the ACLU characterizes as discriminatory against transgender students and a violation of their civil rights.
Frisco ISD passed a policy Nov. 14 — notably, during Transgender Awareness Week — requiring students to use the bathroom that aligns with their assigned gender at birth, with accommodations being made available for students who would like to use a private restroom that aligns with their gender identity.
The ACLU filed a complaint against the North Texas school district and wants the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate. In a letter, the ACLU called Frisco ISD’s new policy “deeply invasive and unlawful,” adding that it “[interrogates] students’ private medical information.”
Additionally, the ACLU wants to investigate another North Texas school district that recently passed a ban on books featuring non-binary and transgender people. Earlier this year, Keller ISD added three new conservative school board members, all of whom received large donations from big-money donors and an extremist Christian PAC. These new board members campaigned on banning books with LGBTQIA+ storylines, as well as some perceived to discuss critical race theory, which is not taught in K-12 schools.
The ACLU claims both North Texas school districts are violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Educator Perspectives from Texas AFT’s Working Conditions Task Force Guide Our Legislative Priorities
The legality of President Biden’s plan to wipe out billions of dollars in student debt will be decided by the Supreme Court early next year, according to a recent announcement from the court.
On Thursday, the court moved to hear arguments for a lawsuit filed by six Republican-led states alleging that the Biden administration exceeded its executive authority in canceling student debt.
The six states — Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina — claimed that Biden’s debt cancellation would deprive the states of future tax revenue earned from the payment of these loans.
The court will hear arguments in February 2023, placing the case on an unusually fast track. The court moved to maintain an injunction blocking the implementation of the debt relief program until justices come to a decision in the case. Nearly 26 million student debt relief applications have been sent to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), with nearly 16 million of those applications already approved, but no debt has actually been canceled yet due to the injunction.
President Weingarten Responds to Mike Pompeo’s Latest Claim that She Is the ‘Most Dangerous Person in the United States’ (Previously ‘the World’)
Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, you may have heard about former Trump Administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referring to AFT President Randi Weingarten as the “most dangerous person in the world,” before adding that what educators do every day for children is “filth.” After overwhelming backlash and ridicule, Pompeo walked back his statement in a New York Post op-ed downgrading our national president to the “most dangerous person in the United States.” In the piece, Pompeo challenged Weingarten to a debate. In response, Weingarten issued the following statement:
While I’m glad that the former secretary of state no longer equates me with the heinous dictators and tyrants of the world, it would have been better if he showed some contrition for calling what public school teachers do every day to teach and uplift children, ‘filth.’ When it mattered, Pompeo never showed any interest in education issues when he was head of the State Department—unlike previous secretaries. Even his Cabinet colleague, Betsy DeVos, toured public schools with me in Ohio. If he wants to engage in a real discussion about what children need to thrive, how to strengthen public education, or the importance of treating teachers with respect, fine with me, but I will not be a prop for Mr. Pompeo’s presidential ambitions.
We, the “most aggressive” teacher group in the state of Texas, are not surprised that the strength of our union at the state and national level is indeed a threat to those like Pompeo who seek to dismantle our public schools, the foundation of our democracy, and silence the voices of teachers. Pompeo’s statements are just another example of how teachers currently feel an unprecedented amount of disrespect, which is why respect is at the center of our political and legislative work.
Need a rental car? With rising prices on rentals, you’ll need your Texas AFT discount. Pick any of the major brands, including any that you are loyalty members with, and search directly through our member benefits site at UnionPlus.org.You’ll save up to 35%!
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