Topic: Special Education

Action Alert: Federal Voucher Bills Would Drain Taxpayer Dollars from Public Schools

Voucher bills introduced in Congress over the past few weeks could privatize the majority of federal K-12 funds that currently flow to states and school districts.  Sen. Lamar Alexander (Republican of Tennessee) and Rep. Luke Messer (Republican of Indiana) introduced a bill, the Scholarships for Kids Act, that could turn 63 percent of federal education funding into private-school vouchers. This...

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Testing Run Amok: Education Austin Member Educates Committee on STAAR-Alt Issues

A well-prepared witness from Texas AFT’s Austin ISD affiliate got a sympathetic hearing from the House Public Education Committee today for her testimony on the STAAR Alternate exams for special-education students with significant cognitive disabilities. Heather Merritt, a high-school teacher and member of our Education Austin local, described vividly the overwhelming burden of preparing test materials, conducting the tests, and...

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Sequester Means Federal Cuts for Education in Texas

Texas schools still suffering from state funding cuts enacted in 2011 now are scheduled to take another financial hit, this time thanks to an artificially created congressional budget crisis. The federal policy of “sequestration” that took effect March 1 enforces indiscriminate cuts across most federal programs, and education is no exception. Next month the U.S. Department of Education will give...

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Voucher Bill Encounters Strong Opposition in Texas Senate Committee Testimony

SB 115 by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), a bill to make all Texas students with disabilities eligible for private-school vouchers, drew strong opposition from a broad array of witnesses in a Senate Education Committee hearing today. Parents of special-needs students, legal advocates for students with disabilities, educators, and concerned citizens all agreed:  Funding the “choice” of a private-school voucher...

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Disability Voucher Bill Set for March 5 Hearing in Texas Senate

A hearing has been set for March 5 on a significant voucher bill by Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands). His SB 115 would create a voucher scheme for students with disabilities. Texas AFT opposes the bill. The upcoming hearing on SB 115 creates one more timely opportunity for you to send an e-mail letter urging your own state senator to...

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Texas AFT on State’s Bid for Waivers of Federal Law: Handle with Care

Earlier this month Michael Williams, the new commissioner of education appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, gave notice of his intent to seek multiple, sweeping waivers of federal requirements from the U.S. Department of Education. The commissioner’s announcement goes beyond seeking relief from some of the follies of the No Child Left Behind Act. These include NCLB’s absurd requirement that 100...

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Private-School Voucher Proposals in Committee This Week

Two House bills and one Senate bill coming up for hearings this week would put the state of Texas in the voucher business: sending taxpayer dollars to private entities providing educational and related services to students. HB 1115 by Rep. Ken Paxton, Republican of McKinney, would provide a tax break to businesses that fund “scholarships” for students to use at...

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Senate Education Committee’s Interim Report: Accountability and More

The last couple of Hotlines have laid out many of the recommendations emanating from the Texas Senate Education Committee in an interim report to the 2011 legislature issued last week. You can see the full report at this site:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.InterimReport81.pdf. More of the committee’s recommendations are worth noting here. Under the heading of “teacher quality” initiatives, for instance, the committee...

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