May 20, 2022: Poll shows gov on wrong side with vouchers, parents want STAAR opt out; A-F ratings kick back in; Big hearings coming up in #TxLege
Publish Date: May 26, 2022 6:25 am Author: Texas AFT
A big push for respect
With the message of “Raise & Respect = Retain,” Socorro AFT members continued their push for significant salary increases and retention bonuses at the Socorro ISD School Board meeting this week. Members sent the school board members more than 6,000 letters and hundreds of handwritten testimonials, which were included in a book for each board member.
Poll shows Abbott on the wrong side of Texas parents, voters, and teachers with vouchers push
The poll found that 53% of Texas likely voters are against taxpayer-funded private school vouchers when hearing vouchers mean less money for their local public schools. Majorities of Texans also are concerned that charter schools take money from local public schools (76%) and that charter school teachers do not need to be certified to teach (80%).
The poll revealed:
Only 41% of likely Texas voters rate charter schools favorably and 45% rate school vouchers favorably, compared to 58% favoring local public schools and 62% giving public school teachers a positive rating.
82% of Texans say they know vouchers will increase their property taxes and take funds away from public school classrooms.
Almost all voters (above 90%) support hiring more teachers, increasing teacher salaries, and increasing funding for school supplies. Eight in 10 (80%) voters support offering teachers a retention stipend for all of their hard work over the last two years.
“The poll results are clear, and Texans don’t want to defund public neighborhood schools for another private voucher scheme or more charter school CEO jet joyrides,” said Texas AFT President Zeph Capo.
Early Voting ends today for primary runoffs; we need your help to get out the vote to push back against nearly $500,000 in charter school PAC contributions!
The charter school and pro-voucher PACs dumped almost $500,000 in spending around the state against some of our endorsed candidates for the May 24 primary runoffs.
Charter schools are targeting races for the State Board of Education, which plays a significant role in approving new charter chains and campuses. If we want the SBOE to represent educators, then now is our chance.
Here’s how you can help defeat the big-money charter school chains:
1) Early vote. If you haven’t already voted early, it ends today. Check your county’s election website for locations and times. And if you miss today, be prepared to head to the polls Tuesday, May 24.
TEA restarts faulty school ratings while poll shows vast majority of Texans want process to opt-out of STAAR
The already-flawed A-F school accountability rating system—based heavily on STAAR scores—will re-launch this year after the Texas Education Agency halted it at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. However, only schools meeting the requirements to achieve an A-C will receive a rating, while D and F campuses will be labeled “Not Rated.” That change will allow campuses that were on a path toward sanctions with D or F ratings to have a reprieve this year, but it doesn’t fix the defects of a system that uses flawed standardized testing to unfairly punish schools and districts. (The change for “Not Rated” was required by legislation from last session, SB 1365.)
Sanctions for ongoing D or F ratings include closing a campus, turning it over to a charter school, or having the state take over the entire school district, even if just one campus doesn’t meet the state requirements.
Texas AFT has strongly condemned the administration of STAAR last year and this year and the use of its scores in any way, because the chaos of the Omicron surge will produce predictable results—students without the consistent instruction and resources they needed to meet the required STAAR scores. While TEA officials claim the results are necessary to gauge learning loss from the pandemic, they are basing their assertions on a test that doesn’t adequately measure student growth even in normal times. Other critics of the tweaked A-F re-launch noted that they can still be penalized for dropping from a higher rating to a lower in the A-C range, and campuses that move from an F to a D get no credit.
A-F ratings do not adequately describe district or campus performance, but it’s clear that TEA is ready to move back to full support of the ill-designed system. Texans, however, overwhelmingly see the faults with STAAR and its destructive impact on instruction. A recent Parent PAC poll showed that 62% of likely voters support allowing parents to opt their children out of standardized testing without penalty, including 75% of Texas parents.
Texas residents will have an opportunity to electronically submit comments regarding the agenda items to be taken up in the House committee hearing on Tuesday.
House and Senate Education committees to meet Tuesday
On the plate? A look at Reading Academies, the additional instruction required for students who don’t pass STAAR (HB 4545), and a review of ‘performance pay’ initiatives
The House Public Education Committee will hear testimony Tuesday on a contentious law—HB 4545—requiring students who don’t pass STAAR to undergo 30 hours of support instruction outside of their usual studies. This unfunded mandate from last session, which replaced the Student Success Initiative, has forced districts to scramble to find already overworked teachers to meet the demands of the law.
The committee will also delve into the 2019 school finance bill—HB 3 and its “fix-up “ bill HB 1525—that infused some desperately needed funds to public schools by upping per-pupil funding and various funding multipliers and allotments. However, this legislation also created the problematic Reading Academies, codified the Teacher Incentive Allotment (so-called performance pay), and did more to cut taxes than fund schools or raise educator salaries.
The Senate Education will examine the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the educator talent pipeline and review recommendations and best practices to improve the process for school districts issuing bonds. The Senate does not have a comment portal, but two Texas AFT members are scheduled to testify at both hearings to address these issues.
TEA adds 24 additional teachers to Teacher Vacancy Task Force, including three Texas AFT members
After establishing a Teacher Vacancy Task Force to address the growing crisis of public educators leaving the teaching profession, the Texas Education Agency has opted to add 24 teachers to sit on the task force. Prior to this decision, TEA received widespread criticism for its initial iteration of the group, where school administrators and others outnumbered teachers 26-2. As Texas AFT argued, educators in the trenches are essential to gain true insight into the teacher exodus and declining numbers seeking teacher certifications.
Among the 24 new teacher representatives are three Texas AFT members—belonging to our local chapters in Corpus Christi, Fort Bend, and Amarillo ISDs. TEA is scheduled to hold its meeting with these added educators as a whole group on June 2, with meetings held every other month until the task force concludes its policy recommendations before the next legislative session in January.
Texas AFT remains skeptical about what results will come from the task force since we already know what is needed to retain and recruit educators—give them the respect and the pay they deserve. We further recognize that the task force additions don’t reflect representation from the largest independent school district in the state: Houston ISD.