Hotline summer schedule
While we publish a Hotline daily for most months of the year, we’re going on a summer schedule that will include about three Hotlines per week. Remember, you can always find all Hotlines here, and if you fear that you’re not getting them in your email, shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
No decision yet on Janus case
While the U.S. Supreme Court can theoretically announce decisions whenever it wants leading into the end of its session on June 26, there were rumblings about a possible decision today in the Janus v. AFSCME case that could strike down “fair-share” or “nonmember” union fees. But no decision arrived. This case has huge implications for labor in our country, and an unfair decision should signal a rallying cry for all supporters of working Americans to stand up and fight for unions. See more here. The next likely announcement of a decision would be Monday morning.
Last chance to let the State Board of Education know our school’s aren’t for sale to charters (Send your letter now!)
The State Board of Education’s School Initiative Committee today heard from three charter school applicants who are tied to the Walton Foundation, an offshoot of Walmart that spends millions of dollars a year to promote privatization of schools through charter-school expansion. Texas AFT’s Patty Quinzi testified before the committee and outlined why these charters– Reve Preparatory and Bloom Academy in Houston, and Promesa Academy in San Antonio–would be harmful to existing neighborhood public schools. The charters would result in millions of dollars lost to the local school districts and would continue to spur the creation of a dual education system, while limited state dollars to public schools continue to dwindle, Quinzi said. She added that these applicants had zero dollars budgeted for school transportation, librarians, school safety, and counselors, with the latter two increasingly crucial in efforts to make our schools safe from shootings. (You can read more about the ties these charters have to the Walton Foundation and the negative impacts they would have on our neighborhood public schools in the June 5 Hotline.)
Finally, Quinzi questioned whether the Texas Education Agency had reviewed the charters’ applications for plagiarism–something explicitly against TEA rules–since many of the recommendation letters from community members in the applications were strikingly similar.
The State Board of Education has the ability to veto any new charter approved by the commissioner of education within 90 days of the commissioner’s decision. (Commissioner Mike Morath approved the applications on June 4.) One Houston teacher drove all the way to Austin to ask the board to veto the two charters because existing public schools don’t need decreased funding resulting from charters. At her school, she said, they are cutting a math specialist next year because of the budget shortfall–so struggling students won’t receive interventions. Another school in her district will cut $300,000 from its budget, including 6 teachers and the after-school enrichment program.
Today the committee did not take any action on the applicants, which means that a full meeting of the SBOE tomorrow likely would be the last chance to veto the commissioner’s approval. Board Member Marisa Perez, while opting not to vote on a veto, did conclude her remarks by saying she was concerned with the saturation of charters in San Antonio and asked whether the state needed to consider a moratorium on all new charters.
One SBOE member on the committee today objected to the hundreds of email “form letters” he received opposing the charter applications and he asked Quinzi if Texas AFT was responsible and if we were ashamed of this action. Well, we’re proud to say we are responsible, we’re never ashamed at coordinating public comment to government officials and agencies, and we’d love for more letters to be sent! Send your online letter now, and don’t be hesitant to add your own comments or subject line when you do. (Although please try to be nice and keep grammar and spelling in mind.)