Topic: Teachers

AFT President Testifies in Texas Senate on Lessons of Local Evaluation Experiments

AFT President Randi Weingarten presented impromptu testimony in the Texas Senate Education Committee this morning on the important issue of how to improve teacher evaluation. Weingarten commended committee chair Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, for recognizing the need for urgent action on this issue. The AFT leader spoke in response to a substitute version of Shapiro’s SB 4. The...

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Classrooms Under Assault in the Texas Legislature

Texas legislative honchos, with an eye on opinion polls showing strong support for public schools, like to say their goal this session is to “protect the classroom” from the impact of a huge revenue shortfall. But the reality of what they have in store for our schools is something altogether different. The students and teachers who populate Texas classrooms face...

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Attack on Teacher Contracts, Salaries, Class-Size Limits Advances

HB 400, one of the session’s worst bills for public education and educators, was approved in the House Public Education Committee at 9:30 pm this evening by a six-to-four vote. Among the bill’s many ugly features: HB 400 takes away the current right of term-contract teachers to a hearing before an independent hearing examiner when faced with termination before the...

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Issues on This Week’s Agenda Include How to Evaluate Teachers’ Effectiveness

For years now the fans of standardized testing have tried to sell the Texas legislature on the idea that teachers'  evaluations should depend on their students' test scores. The latest vehicles for this idea are SB 4 by Sen. Florence Shapiro, Republican of Plano, and HB 1587 by Rep. Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands. In hearings tomorrow, Texas AFT...

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Insult Added to Injury: First Layoffs, Then Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits?

A lot of bad bills have been filed this session in the Texas legislature, but this one is a contender for the “worst of session” award. Yesterday morning the Texas House Economic and Small Business Development Committee took testimony on a bill that would require everyone who applies for unemployment-insurance benefits to pass a drug test as a condition for...

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Texas Senate Panel Acts on School Funding

Under the Texas Senate's initial draft of the state budget, Senate Bill 1, school districts faced a cut of $9.3 billion in state per-pupil aid, equaling an average cut of nearly $1,000 per pupil. Today the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Public Education Funding approved a revised plan to reduce that cut by $5.6 billion. The revised plan still would leave...

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Strong Testimony Against Bid to Roll Back Standards on Class Size, Teacher Pay, Contracts

Strong Testimony against a Bad Bill to Roll Back Quality Standards, Safeguards: HB 400 by Rep. Rob Eissler is a comprehensively bad bill that would roll back decades of educational quality safeguards in state law. Class-size caps for K-4 classrooms would be lifted; salary floors in state law would be replaced with district-by-district determination of teachers’ pay, which would be...

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Keeping Up the Fight: Big Issues on Next Week’s Legislative Agenda

Next week some key issues will be taken up in legislative committees in Austin. On Monday morning, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a bill (HB 275) to use part of the Rainy Day Fund--$4.3 billion of the $9.4 billion in this economic-stabilization fund. Texas AFT supports this move as a necessary first step but one that...

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Bills to Roll Back Contract, Salary, Class-Size Standards Face Stout Opposition

Texas AFT’s legislative team and Texas AFT teachers from Austin and San Antonio spoke out today in a Senate Education Committee hearing against bills to roll back contract, salary, and class-size standards. A bevy of superintendents testified for these backsliding proposals, claiming that school districts must have “relief” from state requirements in the face of sharply reduced state funding. But...

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Action Needed Now—Call Your Senator, Oppose Attacks on Class-Size Limit, Pay/Contract Rights

The Senate Education Committee takes up two bills tomorrow that demand your immediate attention. SB 443 by Sen. Dan Patrick, Republican of Houston, would effectively eliminate the class-size cap of 22 to 1 in grades K-4 that has served our students well for nearly three decades. SB 443 would change the cap for each classroom into a district-wide “average” size...

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Short-Term Federal Budget Bill Chops National Board Certification

The U.S. House and Senate are deeply divided over budget issues, but Congress and the White House agreed this week on a two-week funding bill, buying some time to negotiate a final deal on the fiscal federal 2011 budget. While major funding streams like Title I aid for the disadvantaged will keep flowing at last year’s level, some significant programs...

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