Latest Capitol Updates

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UT/Tribune poll shows support for public education, but not vouchers or standardized tests | February 22, 2017 - 7:05pm

A poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune shows that a majority of Texans expressing an opinion do not support programs that would divert state funds to private schools.

TCTA testifies again for state funding for schools, teachers | February 20, 2017 - 4:31pm

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III took invited and public testimony Monday on the budgets for the Texas Education Agency and the Teacher Retirement System.

Coming up next week | February 17, 2017 - 10:39am

With committees and subcommittees appointed on both sides of the Capitol now, legislative activity will begin picking up; state agency boards also continue to meet throughout the session.

Latest News

School districts may get a reprieve from adding a student growth component to teacher appraisals in the coming school year.

(The 2017-18 Executive Board, from left, Cherie Bales, Donna Corbin, Suzanne Garcia McCall, Janie Baszile, Joyce McCurdy, Twila Read, Cristal Isaacks, Albert Mosqueda, Ann Martinez and Sherry Miller.)

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Donna Bahorich as chair of the State Board of Education ahead of the Jan. 31, 2016, swearing-in ceremony for eight members elected or re-elected in November.

Preliminary accountability ratings released Jan. 6 by the Texas Education Agency as it transitions to a new A-F rating system sparked concerns from educators and education groups statewide after grades across the board were lower than many expected.

Those of us who are involved in Texas politics can often predict the starting point of a legislative session with some accuracy, but the trajectory and the endpoint are always much trickier. For example, we know that “school choice” (some type of private school voucher plan) is a top priority of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and that a bill will be filed to accomplish this. But — will a voucher/ESA bill be seriously considered in the House, which has been firm in its resolve against voucher programs in the past? Private school choice is only one of many education issues that will be a big part of the 2017 legislative session. But it is not the only issue that will highlight the differences between House and Senate goals for the next five months.

TCTA objected when a recent TEA rule proposal omitted a key provision. TCTA-initiated SB 1259, passed in 2015, restored provisions benefitting special education students and their regular education teachers. TCTA submitted comments and also testified at a TEA hearing on the proposed rules, pointing out that they did not contain important language from SB 1259 requiring that the regular education teacher who participates in an ARD committee meeting must be one who will implement a portion of the student’s IEP. Read more

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath recently released proposed rules to change the student performance standard categories for STAAR, effective for the 2016-17 school year. He recommends the current phase-in schedule be replaced with a final set of standards and labels to indicate four levels of student performance. Read more

A Texas congressman has proposed significant changes to the Social Security system. His legislation would cut benefits for all but the lowest-income Social Security recipients, and would phase in an increase in the retirement age to 69. The bill also includes a replacement for the Windfall Elimination Provision — the federal law that reduces Social Security benefits for many educators who earned benefits through previous Social Security participation but do not pay in to Social Security through their school. Click here to read more.

The U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations this week for its implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, modifying some of its proposed regulations released in May in response to public comment. TCTA, along with 21,608 others, submitted comments on the 192-page controversial and comprehensive set of rules, protesting, among other things, the proposal to require states to issue a single summative accountability rating to schools and school districts. TCTA asserted that ESSA did not require summative accountability ratings, and that such a requirement implicitly encourages controversial school accountability measures such as A-F school grading systems. Read more

TCTA testified in support of proposed Texas Education Agency rules requiring new construction projects in school districts to provide extra square footage for classrooms larger than 25 students in grades 5-12 as well as in classrooms with large furniture and equipment. The testimony at a Dec. 1 TEA hearing on proposed revisions to school facilities rules was in addition to written comments TCTA submitted. While supporting several TEA proposals for facilities, TCTA also urged the rules to require more space for K-4 classrooms with more than 22 students to ensure adequate space for learning and increased student safety. Read more.