March 22, 2024: Abbott Does Not Serve All Texans


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

Friday, March 22, 2024

Corpus Christi AFT president Nancy Vera presents about unions, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and social justice to high school students at the Garcia Arts and Education Center on March 13.  

The Work Doesn’t Stop Here. 

At the end of the month we celebrate César Chávez Day, who, along with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Together through much organizing and action, they gained better rights, better working conditions, and better pay for farmworkers nationwide. That work has shaped union practice and will continue to do so for years to come.  


In this week’s Hotline: 

  • We’re taking the opportunity to respond to Abbott’s ‘Report to the People of Texas.’ 
  • A breakdown of the current status of SB 4 in the state as the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes.  
  • Updates from Houston ISD. Spoiler alert: things are not improving.  
  • An opportunity for educators to expand their grasp on Asian American Studies through Asian Texans for Justice.  

— Texas Legislature

Rebuttal to Governor Abbott’s False Narrative in the “2024 Report to the People of Texas” 

Gov. Greg Abbott’s “2024 Report to the People of Texas” paints a picture of a state thriving economically, leading in job creation, and investing in its future. However, a critical analysis, especially from the perspective of public education and the decisions made by the 88th Texas Legislature, reveals significant gaps between the report’s optimistic portrayal and the reality faced by Texas educators and school employees, students, and families. 


We broke it down into five different categories: 

  • Investing in Public Education 
  • Improving School Safety 
  • A “Tale of Two Economies” 
  • Culture War Hurting Economic Competitiveness 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott Does Not Serve All Texans 

— Immigration

Anti-Immigrant Texas Law, SB 4: Chaos, Courts, and the Clash Over Immigration 

Know your rights listing in regards to immigration.

Graphic credit: Texas Immigration Law Council. Click here for the Spanish version.

The legal battle over Texas’s controversial SB 4, a cruel and racist law designed to create a state-level immigration enforcement system, has become increasingly chaotic in the past several days as the Supreme Court of the United States and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a slew of orders allowing the law to briefly take effect before once again blocking its implementation. 


How did we get here and what do legal experts expect to happen next? Read more online.  

— Elections

Answering FAQs: Runoff Election Edition 

1. Who can vote in a runoff?  

Any registered voter! If you voted in the March ‘24 primary, you must vote in the same party runoff. If you did NOT vote in this year’s primary, you can vote with either party.

2. What triggers a runoff election in Texas?  

If a party does not have a candidate with 50% or more of the votes a runoff breaks the “tie” to decide the nominee for that party.    

3. How can I confirm my voter registration status?  

Go to, click on “AM I REGISTERED” then “Selection Criteria. Search by Name/County/Date of Birth. You can also use your Texas driver’s license/DOB or number on your voter registration certificate (VUID) Or call your local county elections office 


4. What if I’m not registered but want to vote in the next primary election?  

You must be registered to vote by April 29 to vote in the 2024 runoff elections. Texas does not have online voter registration. You can print a voter registration application form online or request one be mailed to you. Check for registration drives in your community through social media, and public services (library, county/city offices, churches, schools etc.)    


5. What happens after I submit my registration application?  

Once you send in your application and it is accepted, the county election office will add your name to the voter registration list, generate your voter certificate, and mail it to you.   


6. I moved recently; how can I ensure I won’t have voting issues?  

Update your voter registration by completing and submitting a new application before the registration deadline. If updating online at keep in mind that it can affect WHERE your polling location will be (most problematic when you have moved several counties away). 

— Mental Health

AFT endorses new legislation to help students obtain mental health services

In January, the bipartisan Expanding Mental Health Services Access in Schools Act was introduced in Congress. This bill would create multiple grant programs that schools could apply for to access mental health services funding and would be accessible to millions of students across Texas. 

To take action and voice your support for the Expanding Mental Health Services Access in Schools Act, you can use the Network for Public Education Action to write to your legislators. Additionally, The Check-in Project has resources for teachers in order to help students with mental health issues, as well as how to make your classroom a safe space. 

— Houston ISD

Updates from Houston ISD: It Gets Worse

Another week, another disappointing series of announcements from Texas’ most trod upon district. In the 11 months since the Texas Education Agency first announced that it would be taking over Texas’s largest school district, we have unfortunately come to expect bad news from Houston ISD. Recent announcements have been no exception. 

Just this week, puppet Superintendent Mike Miles announced that while the overall budget will need to be cut due to declining enrollment and the expiration of federal pandemic funds, “New Education System” or NES campuses will likely see a budget increase. This school model, based on Miles’ Third Future charter schools, will expand to encompass approximately 130 (about half of all HISD) campuses next year. Though Miles has promised not to shutter campuses in the 2024-2025 school year, his track record of snap decisions and broken promises does not inspire confidence in this declaration. 

— Professional Development

Apply by March 31: Inaugural Asian American Studies Academy at UT Austin 

If you or someone you know are passionate about building a future where Texas students feel bold in their belonging, we invite you to apply for the inaugural Asian American Studies Academy, to be held June 24-27 at the University of Texas at Austin. 


While open to all K-12 teachers, preference is for social studies educators and district coordinators. Pre-service educators are also encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply for this transformative opportunity is Sunday, March 31.  

Have questions about the academy? Learn more on the website or register to attend the virtual Office Hours session: 

— Event

Pensions at Risk: Join Texas Climate Jobs Project, Texas AFT for Webinar on Threats to Texas Public Employees’ Retirement 

Laws have been enacted in Texas that may be putting the futures of our public sector workers and retirees at riskThese laws dictate how public pension funds can be invested or divested without considering the performance of the investments. State lawmakers have tried to limit the ability of Texas public pension funds to invest in clean energy projects — even if it’s in the best financial interest of the fund.  

Workers and retirees deserve a voice in the decisions that will affect their pensions. By standing together, public sector workers can call on lawmakers to ensure they have the freedom they need to ensure their pensions are being invested responsibly and without jeopardizing future earnings. 

Texas politicians should not gamble with retirees’ future. 


Learn from experts and retirees about the connection between climate and pensions, and how Texas laws are affecting the pensions of public employees in Texas at a free webinar at 6 p.m. CST, Tuesday, March 26. You can register online now. 

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EMX-00166 (Feb. 24) 

Recommended Reading

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

📖  “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”: A Veteran East Texas Legislator Reflects on Getting Rolled Over by Greg Abbott’s School-Voucher Crusade. Republican Travis Clardy lost his primary race on March 5 to a candidate endorsed by the governor and supported by pro-voucher billionaires. In a candid interview, Clardy calls his defeat a slap in the face for rural districts with few alternatives to public schools. (Texas Monthly, March 13)  

📖 ‘This school district has failed him’: Trans Katy teen drops out after gender policy passes. The unrelenting struggles 17-year-old Kadence Carter, a transgender male attending a Katy ISD high school, faced came to a head in August 2023, when the district’s board of trustees passed a controversial gender identity policy opposed by many LGBTQ+ students and advocates. One day after the policy went into effect, a teacher held up the attendance roster in front of Kadence, pointed to his deadname and said, “We’re going back to this one now,” he recalled. (Houston Landing, March 13)