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After a generally harmonious and productive 2019 legislative session, the Texas House has been rocked by revelations of a secret recording of a meeting between Michael Quinn Sullivan (a controversial conservative activist and CEO of Empower Texans), House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Lubbock Representative Dustin Burrows. During the meeting, Bonnen crudely insulted some House members, and — more problematically — asked Sullivan to help fund opposition to 10 Republican House members in the 2020 elections. TCTA and the education community are paying close attention to this situation. 

In the 2014 movie "Whiplash," a jazz band instructor uses over-the-top, abusive methods in an attempt to provoke his students to achieve greatness. He subjects his protégé drummer to public humiliation and even throws chairs at the student. (The instructor is eventually fired for using such tactics.) Obviously TCTA members would never use such techniques! But a bill passed in the 2019 session raises questions, not yet answered, about what actions might run afoul of a new state law that prohibits “aversive techniques.”

SB 944, a law passed during the recent legislative session, has made some waves in the education community this fall. The bill does not target public education specifically, but addresses standards for preserving public information that affect teachers and other school employees.

Your students are having a hard time grasping a key concept, but your administration has required teachers to follow a specific scope and sequence of instruction. You know that your class needs more time — what can you do?

The TRS Board of Trustees met Thursday and Friday in Austin. Trustees were briefed on a number of issues of interest, including two that have received media attention recently.

TCTA congratulates the six teachers recently named as finalists in TASA's Texas Teacher of the Year program. The state winners will be announced during a luncheon Oct. 25 in Austin. The banquet also will recognize the 40 Regional Teacher of the Year winners. That group includes seven TCTA members.

A student at school recently experienced some family trauma. Tony has already missed several classes this year, and is becoming socially withdrawn. He even threatened to seriously injure a classmate after an argument. How do we get Tony some help and keep the situation from escalating?

Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued a report highlighting progress on school safety initiatives in Texas. The report mentions several bills passed during the 2019 session, including two initiated by TCTA.

Your district took advantage of the “days-to-minutes” switch to implement longer school days and cut the number of instructional days. So why do you still have to work 187 contract days? You don’t — at least not under state law. 

Recent legislation (HB 3906) eliminated the stand-alone STAAR writing assessments in grades 4 and 7 beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. But educators will begin to see some changes as TEA transitions to its new Reading Language Arts assessment over the next couple of years.