School-finance panel hears about teacher quality, early-childhood education; and AFT commits to action against gun violence

School-finance panel hears about teacher quality, early-childhood education:
The recently created state commission on public school finance took testimony from invited witnesses today on teacher quality and early-childhood education, which commission chair Scott Brister termed “two of the key drivers” of educational effectiveness. We will report further on the substance of today’s testimony and comments from commission members in upcoming Hotline coverage.

Brister also announced his appointment today of three working groups that will be responsible for developing proposed findings and recommendations for change in school finance related to three broad topic areas:  revenues; expenditures; and outcomes. Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) will lead the revenue group, Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston) will steer the expenditure group, and Dallas businessman Todd Williams will head the group on outcomes.

AFT executive council commits to action against gun violence in schools, colleges:
The AFT executive council today passed a wide-ranging resolution urging action to protect children and educators from gun violence. AFT President Randi Weingarten said, “It’s time for politicians to value children over the gun lobby….And if our current elected officials won’t change the laws to protect our kids and create safe schools, we’ll change who gets elected in November.” She added: “We’re joining with teachers, students, parents, and communities for a national day of action on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, to stop gun violence in our schools.”

The key “resolved” clause in the AFT resolution recommits the union to “commonsense measures,” including bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, strengthening background checks and other vetting processes, revoking a ban on federal research on gun-related deaths, and rescinding the gun industry’s immunity from liability for gun violence. The resolution opposes as “wrong-headed and counterproductive” proposals to address the danger of gun violence on campus by arming faculty and staff.