Latest Capitol Updates

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Coming next week | March 22, 2019 - 10:34am

Next week includes a huge agenda of school safety bills in House Public Education, two budget bills on the House floor, and three TCTA bills in the Senate Education Committee.

House committee hears bill to extend hedge fund cap limit | March 21, 2019 - 12:14pm

The House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee heard HB 1612 Thursday morning. Under current law, a 5 percent cap on hedge fund investments had been temporarily increased to 10 percent, but is scheduled to drop back to 5 percent in September.

House committee approves change in 22:1 class-size caps | March 20, 2019 - 2:34pm

Among the bills voted out of the House Public Education Committee favorably was legislation opposed by TCTA that would revise class-size laws to allow a campus-wide average of 22 students per class in each grade level of K-4.

Latest News

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath agreed to address the TCTA Representative Assembly during our annual convention this year. After his presentation, he graciously took questions from the audience.
 
One TCTA member asked if anything could be done to reduce the burden of TELPAS calibration. His response to TCTA Executive Director Jeri Stone, excerpted below, shows that TEA at his direction is actively pursuing efforts to reduce the burden of TELPAS calibration.

Krystal Contreras, a fourth-grade writing teacher at Cash Elementary School in San Benito CISD, was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during a Feb. 15 ceremony on her campus. Contreras, a TCTA member since 2015, is the only Texas educator receiving the national award this year.

Margaret Kelley, a special education teacher at Timy Baranoff Elementary in Austin ISD and a TCTA member since 2016, received a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant to travel to New Zealand this year.

Delegates attending TCTA's 2019 Convention and Capitol Visit last week in Austin elected statewide leaders and approved a list of priorities for the current legislative session. Members discussed many of the priorities with lawmakers at the Capitol, including House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Convention attendees also heard from Education Commissioner Mike Morath, learned tips to relieve stress and earned CPE hours during the annual gathering.

After the legislature in 2017 adopted clarifying amendments to the original law requiring video cameras in special education classes in certain circumstances, TEA began the long process of proposing similar changes to its rules. TEA announced the final adoption of the rules in late January, and TCTA was pleased to see that many of our suggestions were included in the final rules.

Suzanne Garcia McCall, a fourth-grade science teacher and instructional coach in Slaton ISD and longstanding TCTA member, director, and immediate past president, recently concluded seven years of service on the State Board for Educator Certification. She was first appointed to SBEC in 2011 by then-Gov. Rick Perry as one of four teacher members of the 14-member board. Although her term officially expired in February 2017, she continued to serve as a holdover appointee until Gov. Greg Abbott appointed her replacement this month.

In a 177-page report released Dec. 18, the Federal Commission on School Safety calls for the rescission of Obama-issued school discipline guidance and provides 93 best practices and policy recommendations for improving safety at schools across the country. The report refrains from proposals of new federal guidance, saying there is no one-size-fits-all approach to prevent school violence and keep students safe. Instead, it encourages states and local districts to adopt proven policies on mental health treatment and school building security.

The TRS Board met Dec. 13 and 14 in Austin with a few key items on the agenda. The board received a briefing on the actuarial status of the pension fund, learning that, as expected, recent board action resulted in lowered financial indicators. Trustees were also provided with TRS staff's update of a 2013 study that reaffirms the cost-effectiveness of the current structure of the pension plan.

During a December meeting, Texas Education Agency staff presented the State Board for Educator Certification with a phased-in certification redesign proposal that would require teacher certification candidates to pass a subject-specific pedagogical performance assessment before becoming certified, starting in 2022-23. Still in the discussion stages, the new requirements would not apply to currently certified teachers adding certification by examination.

Republicans continue to dominate state politics as Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and other statewide officeholders all won re-election Tuesday, but Democrats made gains in the Texas Legislature.