Nov. 18, 2022: Results from Our Task Force; SBOE’s Final Meeting of the Year

Texas AFT offices will close for the Thanksgiving holiday on Wednesday, Nov. 23, and there will be no Hotline next week. We hope you and yours have a warm and restful break!

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Texas AFT Announces Respect Agenda for 88th Legislative Session

Up to 70% of Texas teachers say they’re thinking of leaving education according to survey data collected in the past year, while other vital support staff positions in our schools go unfilled. Meanwhile, years of underfunding (and underpaying employees) are leaving us with unsafe and overcrowded classrooms, even as 90% of Texas school employees say they worry their school could be the next victims of gun violence.


Enough is enough, and our schools deserve better. 


Texas AFT is proud to announce our union’s Respect Agenda for the 88th Legislative Session  to our members. Based on feedback from our members via surveys, focus groups, and direct conversations, our union’s top priority in 2023 is to fight for the additional resources our schools need to keep our students and school employees safe, healthy, and thriving.


Among our top demands for the Texas Legislature, which convenes in January: 

  • A $10,000 across-the-board raise for Texas teachers and certified personnel
  • A 15% across-the-board raise for support staff and non-certified personnel
  • Closing TEA’s class size loopholes
  • A defined work year for contract educators

The full agenda includes demands to make our schools safer (including gun reforms and significant investments in school mental health staffing) and to solve the school employee shortage (including retirement security and lower health care costs).


Underpinning every demand is the need to increase state funding for public education. It’s time for our state government to pay its fair share by increasing the basic allotment that funds our public schools, and we have the ability to do it with a $27 billion budget surplus. 


Only a substantial increase in the basic allotment will allow schools to attract and retain the well-trained, experienced teachers and school staff that all students deserve and provide safe schools for Texas children. 

Sign on to the Agenda

You can read the full Respect Agenda online at And you can show your support for those demands right now by signing on to them at

Want to help us spread the word and get even more educators and school employees signed on to our Respect Agenda? Join us for our next texting mixer on Monday, Nov. 21. Register online for the Zoom link!

Update from the Capitol: Bill Filing Has Begun

Bill filing for the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, which begins on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, started on Monday, Nov. 14. As of this writing, more than 1,000 pieces of legislation have been filed so far. 


The bill filing deadline is March 10, 2023, so there are plenty more bills to come. Stay tuned to the Hotline in coming weeks for updates on the good, bad, and ugly bills that we expect to come up.

SBOE Lays Out Legislative Priorities, Gives Approval to Social Studies Standards

This week in Austin was the final meeting of the year for the State Board of Education (SBOE). Among its standard duties, the board agreed upon several legislative priorities that fell under some broad topics:

  • charter school transparency
  • charter regulation
  • instructional materials
  • board support
  • school funding/appropriations

The SBOE’s specific priorities include requiring the board to approve all charter expansion amendments and requiring that all charters follow the same rules and regulations as traditional public schools. Board members said they also emphatically oppose any voucher schemes and called for a dramatic increase in the minimum salary schedule for teachers.

While these priorities do not compel the Texas Legislature to take action, it is, nevertheless, encouraging to see this elected body take a firm stance on important issues.


In addition to articulating their priorities for the upcoming legislative session, board members also gave final approval to the K-12 social studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

After nearly a year of work on the part of content area reviewers who recommended broad changes to the scope of social studies instruction, the SBOE abruptly changed course at the beginning of September, calling for a drastically reduced version of the standards. The only changes that were considered and adopted were those required to bring the TEKS into compliance with SB 3, the so-called “anti-critical race theory (CRT)” bill.

The board will not issue a call for new instructional materials at this time, and it is anticipated that they will take up this content again in 2025.

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This was also the final meeting for six members:

  • Lawrence Allen Jr. (D)
  • Ruben Cortez (D)
  • Jay Johnson (R)
  • Sue Melton-Malone (R)
  • Matt Robinson (R)
  • Georgina (Gina) Pérez (D)

The three Democrats did not run for their seats again; meanwhile, Robinson was drawn out of his district, and the other Republicans lost their primaries to more extremist candidates.

Allen, Cortez, and Pérez have been steadfast supporters of Texas AFT priorities, and we would like to thank them for their many years of dedicated service to Texas education.

Educator Perspectives from Texas AFT’s Working Conditions Task Force Guide Our Legislative Priorities

Over the past two months, Texas AFT staff have met with members from across the state during biweekly meetings of the Working Conditions Task Force, hearing first-hand accounts about their experiences as educators.

The feedback from this task force will direct Texas AFT’s policy work in the upcoming legislative session.

In each of the task force meetings, participants explored one of several key issue areas like class size, educator censorship, and burdensome paperwork requirements.

Class Size

While state law mandates that school districts maintain a 22:1 student to teacher ratio in pre-Kindergarten to fourth grade classrooms and a 20:1 student to teacher ratio across the district, state law also allows school districts to seek waivers to bypass this law.

For the past two years, the Texas Education Agency has approved 100% of the requested waivers for oversized classrooms.


Because TEA has allowed districts to easily exploit this class size limit loophole, many teachers across the state are stuck with substantially more students than the statutory limit. AFT members on the task force reported that large class sizes are a major reason why teachers are leaving the classroom at an unprecedented rate, further compounding the class-size problem.

Members shared that this issue has a disproportionate effect on the morale of new teachers, who are thrown into overcrowded classrooms, which often lead to student discipline issues, before they can even get their footing as teachers.

Educator Censorship

On the issue of educator censorship, a member of the task force from Cy-Fair ISD shared his perspective on the district’s newly implemented policy on classroom libraries. Each book in every English teacher’s classroom library must be labeled by the teacher in terms of content and maturity level.

In response to this burdensome and restrictive policy, many educators are simply taking all their books off their shelves out of fear of further scrutiny from the district.

Suppressive mandates from school districts both add to teachers’ workloads and hinder their ability to most effectively educate students. Teachers feel disrespected when their professional judgment and expertise is doubted, which our members cite as yet another factor driving educators out of the classroom.

Excessive Paperwork

Though state law prohibits redundant paperwork and requires paperwork to be brief under the Paperwork Reduction Act, this law has never been properly enforced by TEA and lacks specificity. Members of Texas AFT’s task force reported that administrators have required them to submit overly detailed and burdensome lesson plans every single week. They also told us that, because much of their allotted planning time was spent in district-mandated meetings, their lesson planning had to be done at home, during their personal time.


While we continue working to reform the Paperwork Reduction Act and give it teeth through our legislative advocacy, Texas AFT staff encouraged educators to respond to overly burdensome and unnecessary paperwork requirements with a “paperwork justification form” asking administrators:

  1. Is the paperwork optional or required?
  2. Is it required by the district, and if so, which department?
  3. Is it required by the state?
  4. If it is not required by either, then why are we doing it?

Texas AFT’s Public Affairs team is working with members of the Texas Legislature to pass bills addressing these issues in the 88th Legislative Session, and the feedback from the member task force was instrumental in crafting our Respect Agenda.

If the Texas Legislature is serious about addressing the teacher shortage and the issues pushing educators out of the classroom, it must first listen to the real experts – teachers on the front lines who know exactly why their colleagues are leaving.

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Take the 2022 Texas AFT Membership Survey

Members, we want to hear from you! Check your email for a message from Texas AFT with the subject line “2022 Membership Survey.” (Check your spam filters, too.)

Every member who completes the survey by Friday, Dec. 9, will be entered to win one of five $100 gift cards!

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Nov. 13-19 is Transgender Awareness Week, and our union of educators and school employees wants to say this clearly to our trans peers and students: We respect and support who you are, and you are loved by public school employees across this state.

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