With a $33 billion surplus available, many educators across this state had high hopes for the 88th Legislature. Yet, here we are, one regular session and two special sessions later with no basic allotment increase and no guaranteed pay raises for teachers and school staff.
Given those results, as well as the specter of a third special session this fall, Texas AFT believes it’s critical that school employees across the state understand how their own representatives have voted on public education.
- Look up your state representative
- See their votes on critical public education issues in the regular legislative session
- Call their office directly
Voting records on two issues — school vouchers and school funding — for three members of the Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment: Chair Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls). Find these votes and more for all legislators on our new website.
There are thousands of votes taken during the regular session, but we pulled out several that are particularly informative about a representative’s views on public education:
- Private school vouchers: The Texas House passed an amendment to the state budget by an 86-to-52 margin that would have banned any state dollars from going to public schools. (Unfortunately, this provision was removed by the Texas Senate in its version of the budget.)
- A $10,000 across-the-board educator raise: Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) proposed an amendment to the state budget that ultimately failed to pass, but would have provided certified educators with a $10,000 across-the-board raise.
- Charter school expansion: HB 1707 by Rep. Stephanie Klick was pushed by the charter school industry and will make it easier for charter schools to expand by exempting them from local zoning ordinances.
- A 10% cost-of-living adjustment for retired educators: An amendment by Rep. John Bryant (D-Dallas) to SB 10 (the TRS COLA bill) would have increased the cost-of-living adjustment that retired educators will receive from that bill. The current percentages that retirees could receive from this bill are 2%, 4%, or 6%, depending on their retirement date, but Bryant’s amendment would have increased the percentages for those groups to 6%, 8%, and 10%.
- Ending tenure in higher education: SB 18 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) significantly reduces academic freedom protections for tenured professors.
- School library book bans: HB 900 by Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) will censor public school libraries by outsourcing the rating of public school library materials to private book vendors.
- Allowing uncertified chaplains to serve as school counselors: SB 763 by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston) will allow a school district or charter school to employ or accept the volunteer services of a chaplain. Under this law, chaplains would not have to be certified by the state.
On our website, you can see how every member of the Texas House voted on these issues. We hope you’ll take a moment — regardless of how they voted — to call them directly and register your opinion.
As we look at another potential special session in September or October — and as we await the imminent release of the Select Committee on Educational Opportunity & Enrichment’s report — it’s crucial that lawmakers hear from us about the need to fully fund public schools to thrive, instead of passing private school vouchers that would defund those schools.
Spreading the Word
We encourage you to share this site with your friends, family, and colleagues. We must keep growing our reach before the special session. To help, we’ve set up friend-to-friend texting and social media sharing options in our tool Impactive.
Click here to share the message with people in your network. Never used Impactive before? You can get all the info you need and your account set up at one of our upcoming Unpacking the Legislature events on Zoom. The next session is Aug. 23.