Topic: Rulings

Stubborn Facts Support School-Finance Decision

State District Judge John Dietz concisely summarized the recent history of Texas school finance en route to his August 28 ruling that the state has failed in its constitutional duty to fund public schools adequately and equitably. Apologists for the status quo on school funding will do what they can to contest the judge’s conclusions, but they will have a...

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Court Issues Ruling: A Broken School-Finance System Needs Fixing Now—the Kids Can’t Wait

State District Judge John Dietz of Austin today issued a long-awaited final decision in the school-finance case brought against the state by hundreds of school districts. Judge Dietz found overwhelming evidence that the current funding scheme is constitutionally inequitable, inadequate, and in violation of the ban on a statewide property tax. He noted that the state has raised its standards...

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Another Win on Teacher Pay in McAllen

Congratulations also to the McAllen AFT for winning a back-pay award for teachers who were improperly denied a step raise by their district. The McAllen ISD action violated a 2009 state law that provided a state-funded teacher pay raise and clearly also required districts to honor already-established local policy commitments to provide step increases. McAllen AFT prevailed after a five-year...

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Good News from Federal Survey on Texas Graduation Rates

At a time of seemingly nonstop bashing of Texas public education by ideologues and privatizers, we are pleased to interrupt all the negativity with some genuinely good news. That news is that Texas high-school graduation rates, as reported on the latest federal state-by-state comparison using a uniform method of calculating four-year graduation rates, are among the best in the nation....

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Strategic Retreat: End-of-Course Exams Won’t Have to Count This Year as Part of Final Course Grades

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott on Friday announced the state will not require school districts to comply this year with a state mandate to count scores on the state’s new standardized end-of-course exams as 15 percent of a student’s final course grade in the subject tested. However, a cumulative passing score on the end-of-course exams will still be a...

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Time to Comment on “Financial Exigency”: How It’s Defined Will Affect Your Contract

Take Action! SB 8 as passed by the legislature last year gave school districts a trump card they can play to override important due-process safeguards for teachers and other educators employed under term, continuing, or probationary contracts. That trump card is called a “declaration of financial exigency”—an assertion that insufficient financial resources exist to meet the district’s contractual obligations, thereby...

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Commissioner’s Emergency Rule on “Financial Exigency”

Under legislation--Senate Bill 8--passed in June, Texas lawmakers granted school districts new “flexibility” to downgrade due-process rights of employees. For instance, in case of a “financial exigency,” a school district may terminate employee contracts in the middle of the school year as part of a reduction in force. Based on “financial exigency,” a district under SB 8 no longer has...

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Tax-Exemption Maneuver Threatens School Budgets

A bid by oil companies to force rebates of taxes paid to school districts threatens to aggravate school-budget shortfalls just when districts are absorbing the impact of deep state budget cuts. Companies led by Valero Energy Corporation are pushing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reinterpret the law on tax exemptions for pollution-control equipment in a way that would...

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Texas AFT Teacher Wins Fight over Extra Pay for Extra Work

Teacher John Kelley and Texas AFT have won another round in a long-running legal battle to compel North East ISD in San Antonio to pay Kelley what he is owed for extra work over and above what his contract required.  The Texas Supreme Court has rejected a bid by the school district to overturn the rulings of lower courts, which...

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AG Says No to SBOE Policy Favoring Investments to Support Charter Schools

Some members of the State Board of Education have been eager to use the state’s endowment for public schools—the Permanent School Fund—as a tool to support charter schools. But the state attorney general on August 9 issued an advisory opinion stating that the State Board may not consider any factors other than financial benefit for the PSF in its stewardship...

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Court Says Teachers Still in Training Aren’t “Highly Qualified” Under Federal Law

Last week a federal appeals court in California held that alternative-route teachers still in training are not "highly qualified" under the federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act. The U.S. Department of Education has interpreted the "highly qualified" requirement to allow individuals who "demonstrate satisfactory progress" toward certification to be deemed the equivalent of a teacher who "has...

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State Ruling Backs McAllen AFT on District’s Duty to Pay Salary-Step Increases

Texas AFT's local affiliate in McAllen ISD has won a significant victory in a legal battle to get the district to give teachers their full 2009-2010 pay raise as required by state law. This week an administrative law judge with the Texas Education Agency ruled in McAllen AFT's favor, supporting the union's contention that the district violated state law last...

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