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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.

Our statewide awards honor those who have made outstanding contributions to public education, the teaching profession or TCTA during the past year. Participation in the awards program is an opportunity for TCTA local affiliates and members-at-large to publicly recognize local members and others who impact their schools and profession. It's also a great way for CTAs to attract positive attention from the media, peers and administrators. Nominations are due by March 15, 2019. Click here for more information.

After the Texas Education Agency announced in late September that it was accepting waiver requests from school districts that are unable to provide bilingual or English as a Second Language certified teachers for the required bilingual and ESL programs, it then published a document specifying that school districts applying for these waivers can use state bilingual allotment funds to reimburse teachers for certification tes

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) have re-filed a late-session bill that would revise the calculation of benefits for Texas teachers and other employees who are currently subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). The bill also was filed in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as S. 3526. Given that Congress is in its last several weeks of the current congressional session, the bills are unlikely to progress.

The Texas Education Agency is seeking educators to work with its contractor, Safal Partners, to review English language arts and reading instructional materials in grades 3-8 to evaluate their quality.

After adopting rule changes increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or English as a Second Language programs, TEA’s Division of English Learner Support recently issued a statement to clear up some common misconceptions regarding the requirements, chiefly that not all English language arts and reading teachers need to obtain ESL certification to meet the new regulations. 

After gaining the support of the State Board of Education in September, TCTA took the final step in a successful fight to prevent expansion of an abbreviated route into teaching at the State Board for Educator Certification's Oct. 5, 2018, meeting. During testimony, TCTA persuaded the SBEC board to back the original proposal it reviewed in March, ensuring that teacher preparation programs continue to require at least 150 hours of pre-service training for most certificates.

TEA is accepting waiver requests through Nov. 1 for districts and charter schools that are unable to provide bilingual or English as a Second Language certified teachers for the required bilingual and ESL programs. This follows a recent significant TEA rule change increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or ESL programs. TCTA has received calls from many content-area members who are being required by their school districts to obtain ESL certification immediately in order to meet the new rule requirements; however, the waivers will allow a reprieve from these provisions for the 2018-19 school year.

State law limits the ability of a candidate seeking educator certification from attempting to pass the applicable certification test more than five times, unless the State Board for Educator Certification waives the limit for good cause. TEA recently updated its webpage devoted to this issue, providing links to the test-limit waiver application and a FAQ document.

The expenditures working group of the Texas School Finance Commission presented its recommendations to the entire commission on Tuesday. The working group recommends eliminating some of the current funding allotments and using the bulk of the savings to fund some targeted programs the group hopes will improve student achievement. The largest allotment recommended for repeal is the Cost of Education Index, which currently distributes about $3 billion per biennium in an attempt to account for higher costs primarily in urban school districts.