Teachers union continues push to stop STAAR, even as education commissioner states that remote learners can skip the test

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2021

CONTACT: Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343, rdamico@texasaft.org

Texas American Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo commented today on statements made by Education Commissioner Mike Morath in a broadcast conversation with the Texas Tribune:

Education Commissioner Mike Morath continues to argue that the STAAR test must continue this spring.

Our message to Morath is that our kids and educators have been through enough hardship in the past year and don’t need the useless burden of weeks of test-prep and testing for scores that won’t be valid. 

Morath stated: “For families who are still at that point, concerned about the public health issue….If a family wants to then on that day, since they are otherwise remote, if they want to send their kid in to get tested they can. But if the family is still concerned that they need to remain with remote instruction, then they stay remote that day. Their kid won’t take the test and they won’t have access to that information.” 

Texas Tribune publisher and moderator Evan Smith then asked for clarification: “If they do not want to come back in and do the test…you will give the option to opt out of it?”

Morath replied: “It’s not opting out of the STAAR test. It’s opting for remote instruction….so their kid won’t sit for the STAAR exam.”

Our message to all parents is that they should be in control of this decision and not under any intimidation from their school district for not sending their child to take the STAAR test.

We are extremely disappointed in Morath–who should be a chief advocate for educators–and his lack of leadership on vaccinations to keep us safe. He refused to say whether he thinks teachers should be included in the 1b tier for vaccinations, as the CDC recommends. For someone who is arguing the impacts of learning loss from the pandemic and urging to get as many kids on campuses as possible, the commissioner should be clearly stating the importance of getting school employees in the 1b designation for immediate vaccinations.

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents some 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.

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