Texas AFT Round-Up: Still waiting on school finance/pay raise bill; Sign up for PD at our Convention; News on student debt and free college

 


As Legislature winds down, still no word on final bill for school employee pay raises

Texas House reps join Speaker Dennis Bonnen (center) at a March 5 press conference announcing the beginning of debate on a comprehensive school finance bill.

The Texas legislative session officially ends Monday, but most business will finish by this weekend. Still pending is HB 3, the school finance bill with proposals for school employee pay raises. That bill is in a conference committee of lawmakers to reconcile differences between the House and Senate plans. Also pending is the TRS pension bill, SB 12, for retirees. (Click here for the most recent update.) We will send out a special report once these bills are finalized and accepted by both chambers.

In the meantime, you’ve got work to do locally, as Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro pointed out in his column last week, “All politics is local!”

Education Austin, led by its president Ken Zarifis (left) isn’t waiting on news from the Legislature before it makes the point that the district’s staff expects a significant raise. The union rallied at its School Board meeting Monday.

As an example of what local organized labor can do, check out the news on our union for Austin ISD–Education Austin–as it campaigns for a 10% pay raise for district employees. You can also watch the Facebook coverage of the rally here.


Need Continuing Professional Education credit? Sign up today for our Professional Issues Day

School Project“Project Based Learning is More than a Poster” is just one of 18 workshops offered for CPE credit.

Texas AFT will hold its 2019 convention in Houston on June 7 to 9. Saturday, June 8, is devoted to our Professional Issues Day, which is chock full of workshops for Continuing Professional Education Credit. We will offer a wide variety of courses: everything from enhancing project-based learning and the best tech tools for classrooms, to understanding and engaging students of color. Check out the full line-up here and register here ($50 for full day of three workshops and lunch).

 

The good and bad news on student loan debt

Student Loan Graphic

Some good news out of the Legislature, which Tuesday passed SB 37, a bill that prohibits the state from revoking teaching certification for nonpayment of student loans. Texas AFT supported this common-sense legislations that lets teachers keep working while trying to pay off student loan debt. (The bill will become law if signed by the governor.)

The bad news is that as of the end of December 2018, 53,749 unique borrowers had submitted 65,500 applications for public service loan forgiveness (a program available to teachers and other public servants), and only 610 applications had been approved by the Department of Education. Those who work in public service are being denied forgiveness at alarmingly high rates, and it’s time to put a stop to it.

That’s why the AFT is exploring further legal action on behalf of our members who have been denied public service loan forgiveness. Specifically, we are looking for AFT members whose applications for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program have been denied. If you fit that category, please take the survey here.


Union Benefits: Free college coursework for members and their families

Outside of her job as a school bus driver, AFT member Sarah Cloud has long been an advocate for her husband and son, who both have a rare form of arthritis. She’s now enrolled in the Union Plus Free College Program and taking classes towards a Patient Navigator certificate to enhance her advocacy abilities.

The Union Plus Free College Program partners with Eastern Gateway Community College to offer online courses and degree programs with no out-of-pocket cost to active or retired union members and their eligible family members, including spouses, domestic partners, children (including stepchildren and children-in-law), dependents and grandchildren.

“I was skimming a Union Plus email newsletter,” said Sarah Cloud, a school bus driver and AFT member. “I’ve been one of many moms out in the workforce for whom college was out of reach. I saw this offer, and I wondered if I could even do it. I decided to take a class and see if I liked it.” Cloud is studying to receive a Patient Navigator certificate. “I recommend this program to all union members I meet,” she said. “Your family can go to school, and it’s huge.”

 

 


In Case You Missed It:

Our other email publications include “#TxEd in the Media,” a Monday column with commentary and analysis of the top Texas education stories in the news; “Dear Friends,” a letter from Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro every other Wednesday; and the “Legislative Hotline,” a wrap-up of legislative news each Friday.


About this newsletter

Round-Up is the email newsletter from Texas AFT and is published every two weeks on Wednesdays. You are on this list because you either subscribed, or you were added when you participated in a Texas AFT action campaign and opted in to receive emails. You may unsubscribe at any time with the link below, but we’d love to have you stay so you can remain informed about our union, public education, and your profession.

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents more than 65,000 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.

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