USDE approves Texas’s State ESSA Plan

After TEA submitted its final State ESSA Plan on March 6, the U.S. Department of Education moved quickly to approve it on March 26. In a press release, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said, "I look forward to seeing how Texas embraces the flexibility afforded by ESSA to innovate on behalf of the Lone Star State's students."

The approval culminates a long and arduous process in which, due to ongoing negotiations with USDE, TEA submitted three different versions of the state plan before it was finally approved.
 

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TEA draft plan for special education includes TCTA suggestions

TEA's draft strategic plan for special education, released last week for public comment, includes several suggestions made by TCTA. 

The plan incorporates a suggestion that TCTA has repeatedly advanced to ensure that when monitoring school districts, TEA would not rely solely on data provided by the school district, but would also include ways for parents and teachers to notify TEA confidentially of potential violations.
 

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TRS Board to make decision on key figure for pension fund at April 19 meeting

As TCTA reported in February, the TRS Board of Trustees is considering a major change to one of the figures used to calculate the TRS pension fund’s financial health. A decision was scheduled for the Board’s February meeting, but after testimony from TCTA and other concerned stakeholders, the Board voted to delay consideration until its April 19-20 meeting. Now, as that meeting draws near, TCTA members may wish to contact the TRS Board members to ask for a different approach.

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TCTA testifies on school discipline, teacher compensation

The Senate Education Committee held public hearings March 26 on several interim issues. TCTA testified on student discipline, cautioning legislators to consider the practical implications of any changes on classroom teachers and to refrain from taking a disciplinary tool away from teachers without first replacing it with an equally, if not more effective tool. 

TCTA also testified on teacher compensation, emphasizing the need for competitive salaries and the need to address salary compression that results in veteran teachers being paid little more than new teachers, and reiterating that we do not support performance pay based on student test scores.
 

TCTA asks school finance commission to look at increased funding for schools

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance met Monday, March 19, to take invited testimony from stakeholder groups – including TCTA – as well as public testimony. TCTA’s Holly Eaton spoke about the need for additional funding and requested that the commission consider revenue sources, and our written testimony addressed the need to increase teacher pay and protect and enhance retirement and health insurance benefits.

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TCTA urges SBEC to protect sanctity of Educator Code of Ethics

TCTA urged the State Board for Educator Certification at its March 2 meeting to refrain from making excessive changes to the Educator Code of Ethics.

Among the proposed revisions proposed by TEA staff was making it a Code of Ethics violation for an educator to fail to comply with any written directive from an administrator. TCTA pointed out in testimony that, not only was the standard overly broad, but in many cases it would involve situations that do not rise to the level of “unethical” behavior, which is what the Code of Ethics governs. TCTA strongly suggested that the appropriate place to make many of the revisions suggested by TEA staff was in the educator disciplinary rules.

Delegates elect new state officers, vote on dues structure during 2018 Annual Meeting

Delegates at TCTA's 2018 Annual Meeting in Austin on Feb. 23 approved a revised dues structure beginning with the 2018-19 school year and elected officers to four positions on the Executive Board. Those gathered at the Renaissance Austin Hotel also heard from State Board of Education Chairwoman Donna Bahorich and the Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, founder and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children, earned CPE hours and discussed other association business. 

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TEA clarifies school district special education responsibilities

After filing an initial draft corrective action plan in response to orders from USDE's Office of Special Education Programs to address various special education problems in Texas public schools, TEA sent school districts a reminder of their specific responsibilities for identifying, evaluating, and serving special education students.  

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Final decisions on new state accountability system framework

The following is a description of the Commissioner’s final decisions on the new state accountability system framework. The A-F Accountability Framework will serve as the basis for the 2018 accountability manual.

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TRS Board considers controversial change to key pension fund figure

On the first day of the TRS Board of Trustees’ three-day retreat in Edinburg, the board faced what some referred to as possibly the most important decision it would make this year — whether to lower the pension fund's assumed return rate for TRS investments. The result — to delay making a decision until April — was at least a temporary win for educators, with more work to be done.

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