HR 711, a bill that would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a fairer calculation of Social Security benefits for Texas school employees and other similarly situated government workers, was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, July 13, as part of a budget markup session in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. However, it was pulled down at the beginning of the meeting.

The Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability held its next-to-last meeting in June. Commission members are working toward recommendations for the Legislature to consider next session about how to revise the state’s current testing and accountability systems. However, the group is finding it difficult to get down to the nuts and bolts of a very complex issue.

TEA announced that it is accepting applications from Education Service Centers and their partnering school districts to participate in a writing pilot study program for the 2016-2018 school years. Legislation passed last session required TEA to conduct a study during the 2015-2016 school year to develop an alternative method of assessing writing in grades 4-7, as well as the English I and II end-of-course exams. TEA is required to pilot the alternative writing assessment method in designated school districts across the state during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. Click here to read more.

The TRS Board of Trustees adopted premium rates and plan changes for TRS ActiveCare, the TRS ActiveCare HMOs, and TRS-Care. 

ActiveCare rates will increase from 0 to 5 percent, depending on the coverage selected: rates for ActiveCare HD-1, the lowest level of coverage will not increase; ActiveCare Select premiums will increase by 2.3 percent, and ActiveCare 2 rates will go up by 5 percent. Click on the links below for more details:

The 2016-17 TCTA Executive Board, from left, Cherie Bales, Teresa Koehler, Cristal Isaacks, Donna Corbin, Suzanne Garcia McCall, Twila Read, Felicia Nichols and Janie Baszile. (Not pictured: Albert Mosqueda and Thomas Nichols)

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TCTA notified members last week that the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s school finance system is constitutional. The court ruled against all claims from a myriad of plaintiffs; the legal challenges had included both the adequacy of state funding and the equity of the distribution method. Read on for more details from the written judicial opinions, and reactions from state leaders.

The election date for runoffs from the March primary is Tuesday, May 24. Voter turnout is typically extremely low in runoff elections, so your vote can really make a difference. Don’t miss this opportunity to have an impact on the people who will be representing you in Austin!

TCTA staff attorney Julie Leahy represented Georgetown teachers at a recent meeting at which the Georgetown ISD board of trustees discussed converting to an innovation district.

TCTA had been contacted by a Georgetown CTA member who noticed an item on the board meeting agenda regarding initiating the innovation district process. Leahy attended the meeting to convey the many concerns of the GCTA teachers. Read more

Two TCTA members were among the statewide winners of the 15th annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. Martha Saucedo of Brady ISD and Laurie Holmes of Del Valle ISD were among eight educators honored during an awards ceremony May 13 at San Antonio’s La Cantera Hill Country Resort. Read more

A surprising decision by the Texas Supreme Court is the talk of Austin policymakers and observers. The court ruled the current system constitutional, declaring, “Despite the imperfections of the current school funding regime, it meets minimum constitutional requirements.” 

In an 9-0 ruling Friday, May 13, 2016, the court reversed a lower judge's decision in 2013 that sided with schools in a lawsuit filed by more than 600 districts after state lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from education funding in 2011. (Read more)