June 21, 2024: The Whole Truth

Header reads: Texas A-F-T. The Hotline.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Juneteenth graphic.

The Whole Truth

“We have simply got to make people aware that none of us

are free until we’re all free.” 

On June 19, 1865, Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger proclaimed the end of slavery to individuals in Galveston, Texas. President Abraham Lincoln had outlawed slavery more than two years prior to this with the Emancipation Proclamation, but the enforcement of the end of slavery in Texas had been poor and inconsistent, and many enslaved Black Texans heard the news for the first time when Granger arrived in the state with Union troops and made his own proclamation, known as General Order No. 3. 

Now a federal holiday as well as a Texas holiday, Juneteenth is a reminder of some of the most reprehensible chapters in our shared history. But it also can and should be a celebration of Black American joy, as it was this week in Houston for members of AFT’s Retiree Legacy Initiative.  

Retired AFT members from Texas and several other states gathered to reflect on the importance of teaching the real history of Juneteenth, as well as recommit themselves to using their voices to push this country closer to fulfilling the promise of Freedom Day.  

On the latter, we all have a role to play, both in the classroom and in our daily lives.  

In this week’s Hotline:  

  • The State Board of Education meets next week. Among the agenda items: approval of new charter school applicants.  
  • Four additional pre-screenings have been scheduled ahead of the free citizenship clinic scheduled for July 21 in Houston.  
  • Consider donating to the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund in memory of a fellow Texas AFT member.
  • Have questions about retirement? Long-time corporate supporter Horace Mann has a series of free webinars this month for educators.  

— State Board of Education

Image reads: eyes on the board.

SBOE Preview: New Charter Schools up for Consideration 

The State Board of Education (SBOE) will begin its regular meeting in Austin on Tuesday, June 28. The packed agenda is dominated by an issue that Texas AFT monitors very closely: the review and approval of new charter school campuses. We want to preview this topic for you now, as it is a major focal point in stopping the expansion of education privatization in Texas.  

Texas AFT is opposed to privatization in all its forms, and this includes the approval of new charter schools and the expansion of existing charter operators. Texas is 30 years into a charter experiment that promised to drive innovation that then would be carried back to the primary education system to improve all schools.  

So far, none of this has happened; instead, what we have is an inefficient shadow system of schools with less transparency and public accountability than traditional public school districts. 

State funds to charter schools have almost quadrupled since fiscal year (FY) 2011 to over $4 billion in FY 2023 — about 20% of all state aid for public education — and are projected to receive almost $8.5 billion in state funds over the 2024-2025 biennium.  

While the SBOE has the authority to approve new charter operators, charter school growth is effectively unlimited because the commissioner of education may approve new campuses via expansion without notice or consideration of the public or a vote by any elected representatives. 

— Citizenship Clinics

Northeast Houston AFT hosted a pre-screening for permanent legal residents ahead of the July 21 citizenship clinic (center). Find information on the clinic, as well as the remaining pre-screening dates, in the linked English and Spanish fliers.  

4 New Citizenship Clinic Pre-Screenings Added in Houston Area 

The AFT national union, Texas AFT, and its local unions in Harris County are joining our extended labor family to offer a free citizenship clinic in Houston this summer to support lawful permanent residents who wish to apply for U.S. citizenship. 

Now, four additional pre-screening dates have been added for June 28-29, offering additional opportunities for permanent legal residents to attend one in preparation for the July 21 citizenship clinic.  

Find event information for the four new pre-screenings in the full article on our website. Reminder: Anyone who wishes to participate in the full citizenship clinic must attend a pre-screening to be eligible. 

— In Memoriam

Photo of Elaine Jones.

Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Celebrates Memory of Texas AFT Retiree Elaine Jones

Elaine Jones dedicated her life to education and activism, leaving a lasting impact both in her career and in retirement. The retired AFT member’s passion for education led her to become deeply involved with the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program. 

“Elaine’s dedication was evident; she served on our labor council Scholarship Committee for many years,” recalls Becky Moeller, former president of the Texas AFL-CIO.  

It’s fitting, then, that one of this year’s scholarships is named the Elaine Jones Memorial Scholarship. Jones, who passed away in April 2024, played a crucial role in promoting the program. You can make a contribution to the scholarship fund in her memory online. 

— Horace Mann

Is your retirement account ready for every day being a Saturday? 

Hey there, future retiree (or maybe you’re already there, living the dream in your pajamas – we won’t judge!), let’s face it: retirement planning can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. But fear not! Long-time corporate supporter, Horace Mann is here to inject a little fun and a lot of knowledge into your journey with Horace Mann’s Retirement Income Distribution webinar. 

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Learn: Horace Mann will decipher all that confusing jargon and turn it into actionable steps for a secure retirement. 
  • Reflect: When do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?
  • Get your questions answered: How do you know if you have enough money saved? How long will it last? 

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only, and should not be considered a recommendation, investment, tax or legal advice. Representatives of HMII provide general information concerning retirement income planning only. HMII and its representatives do not provide financial planning services. Horace Mann Service Corporation and certain of its affiliates (Horace Mann) enter into agreements with educational associations where Horace Mann pays the association to familiarize association members with the Horace Mann brand, products or services. Contact association.relations@horacemann.com for more information. 


EMR-00788 (Apr. 24) 

Recommended Reading

Texas education news from around the state that’s worth your time.

📖 After Uvalde, Texas promised armed guards in every school. It hasn’t happened. In an analysis of 100 randomly selected school districts around the state, Hearst found that at least half adopted an exception built into the law to avoid complying with the armed guard requirement. District leaders who spoke to the newspaper said they struggled to pay for the added security or couldn’t find people to take the jobs. (Houston Chronicle, June 13)  

📖 Arizona is sending taxpayer money to religious schools — and billionaires see it as a model for the US. Arizona was the first state in the country to enact a universal “education savings account” program. A CNN investigation found that the program has cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, disproportionately benefited richer areas, and funneled taxpayer funds to unregulated private schools that don’t face the same educational standards and antidiscrimination protections that public schools do. (CNN, June 19)  

📖 Why do we celebrate Juneteenth? As a Texan, it’s an important history lesson. As columnist Joy Sewing writes, “In a box of old photos and letters, I kept a small card about Juneteenth that I found in high school. Not sure where I got the card, but it was my only proof that I learned something about the day’s significance growing up. Juneteenth was not in my history books or even part of a class discussion.” (Houston Chronicle, July 17)