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Headlines warn lawmakers to “Stop Fleecing Teachers” (Dallas Morning News editorial 10/30), and assert that a recently-passed bill “…declares open season on Texas teachers’ retirement funds” (DMN 10/27). How concerned should educators be?

Are you interested in TCTA statewide office? If so, a key deadline is Nov. 9. Four positions on TCTA's Executive Board are up for election at the 2020 Annual Meeting on Feb. 7 in Austin. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Oct. 30 released interim charges for Senate committees to work on before the next session begins in January 2021. Several committees were given items directly or tangentially relating to public education in Texas.

The House Public Education Committee met Monday, Oct. 28, to take invited testimony on two major bills that passed recently: House Bill 3 from the 2019 legislation (school finance/teacher salaries) and House Bill 22 from 2017 (accountability). TCTA General Counsel Lonnie Hollingsworth was the only teacher representative invited, and served on the panel that addressed HB 3 implementation issues. 

Fourth- and eighth-graders in Texas public schools still struggle with reading, according to the 2019 nation's report card. Math scores show mixed results. Every two years, selected students are given the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading and mathematics to see how students perform across the country. Texas trails the national average reading score in fourth and eighth grade, but fourth-grade math scores are above average. Eighth-grade math scores are only slightly below the national average.

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.