June 28, 2021: SBOE vetoes 4 new charter schools, special session date set

SBOE vetoes 4 of 7 new charter applicants

Photo shows a person holding up their hand, palm stretched outward, as if to say no. Text says, "Tell the State Board of Education to say NO to more charter schools."

The commissioner of education approved seven new charter applicants in June, and the State Board of Education last week had the opportunity to hear from each to determine whether to allow or veto each application. After these hearings, SBOE denied four of the seven applicants.
Despite evidence that public schools consistently outperform charter schools (even with charters’ funding advantage), state leaders intent on public school privatization continue to push for greater charter school expansion. This second school system already costs the state $3.6 billion each year, and that is money that belongs in public schools, not in the pockets of out-of-state charter operators. With little state oversight and no local voter accountability, charter school corruption is continuously exposed in scandal after scandal.
The most controversial applicant was California-based Rocketship Public Schools, which has been vetoed three previous times by the SBOE and has a history of financial and operational problems. The data on Rocketship operations — which would be contracted out to its California charter management organization — is bleak: Teacher attrition rates are as high as 44%, student attrition rates are as high as 34% per year, and student-to-teacher ratios are as high as 36:1.
Despite its poor track record, Rocketship’s charter application passed on an 8-7 vote, only after an unprecedented push from moneyed Fort Worth interests and reported last-minute lobbying from Gov. Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath.
Many thanks go to SBOE members Georgina Perez, Ruben Cortez Jr., Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Matt Robinson, and Aicha Davis, who consistently stood up in the face of significant political pressure. These members spoke up for the interests of public schools and all their students and spoke out against the funding drain from rapidly expanding, low-quality charter chains.
We also thank Texas AFT members for your letters and calls to SBOE members to make sure the voices of public school educators were heard in this important discussion. Four vetoed charter applicants is a new record, and it would not have happened without your voice.


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Governor sets special session date for July 8

Walk leading up to the Texas Capitol with trees lining the sidewalk.
Last Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott set a date for a special legislative session: July 8. Abbott did not set the agenda for what can be considered in that special session yet. But he previously has stated that the session will at least cover Senate Bill 7, the voter suppression bill that failed to pass when Democratic House members walked out to break quorum in May.
Abbott has also previously mentioned the special session would include topics relating to HB 3979, the bill banning school curriculum on race and controversial issues. The governor signed that bill into law this month, saying “more must be done” in a special session.
It is likely that Abbott will call another special session for redistricting some time in the fall. The governor has the sole authority to set special sessions, which are limited to 30 days.
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Texas AFT Convention: Officers re-elected

Text says, "Vision. Strategy. Power. Virtual Convention, June 25 to 26."This past weekend, Texas AFT held our 30th biennial convention, and our first virtual convention.

A full wrap-up of convention business will appear in next week’s Hotline, but we will take a moment now to congratulate President Zeph Capo and Secretary-Treasurer Ray McMurrey on their re-election to another two-year term.

What educators stand to gain and lose from the redistricting battle this fall

Texas A-F-T logo with dotted lines and scissor icons, carving up the state of Texas.The Texas Legislature eagerly awaits new census data that would impact the redrawing of congressional district lines. One state that has a lot at stake is Texas, which is gaining two congressional seats due to population growth largely fueled by communities of color. But they may not be the ones benefiting from the redistricting fight.
Share My Lesson has great resources on understanding and teaching redistricting and gerrymandering.
Redistricting likely will occur in a special legislative session this fall.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder says, “With fair maps and a more just electoral system, we can have leaders who are more likely to tackle the important issues facing our country and be more responsive to the needs and desires of the people they were elected to represent.”
He has founded an organization, All On The Line, dedicated to supporting fair maps in Texas. Getting involved with All On The Line will let you learn more about what you can do to support fair maps in your community.

TEA releases guidance on remote instruction options for districts

The Texas Education Agency released a document outlining the rules and procedures needed for districts to offer remote instruction — outside of the Texas Virtual School Network (TVSN) — for the coming school year. With a few rare exceptions, these remote students are not eligible for Average Daily Attendance funding from the state.
TEA notes that ESSER funds from federal pandemic aid may be used to fund remote instruction for students.
Many districts are abandoning all remote instruction starting in the fall because of the complicated requirements and lack of funding. Since not all students and staff will be vaccinated, and because some students and/or staff may be medically compromised, the use of federal ESSER funding remains a viable option to provide remote instruction in the district — instead of leaving the TVSN as the only choice.
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Text says, "A-F-T Teach 2021 Virtual Conference, July 6-10, 2021. Register now."Register for Together Educating America’s Children (TEACH)

TEACH 2021 will will be held virtually this year on July 6-10 and will feature:

  • Inspiring speakers on key issues, like rebuilding academically from the pandemic and creating anti-racist communities
  • Engaging cross-curricular sessions with meaningful tools and resources to use in your school
  • Solutions to ensure students’ social emotional learning and the freedom to thrive
  • Opportunities to collaborate with colleagues

Register now! You can also join the TEACH 2021 community on Share My Lesson to review conference content from 2019, find related resources, and join the discussion about what you hope to see at TEACH 2021.

Bridges Institute for Professional Development: Upcoming Webinar

Text is an event description that is available in full at the registration link.


Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

June 30, 10 a.m.–noon

In this session participants will operationalize the connection between culture and cognition, design strength-focused lessons and activities, and implement research-based pedagogy in classrooms with ethnically diverse students. Register here.





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