Category Archives: SBOE

From the Texas Tribune: One Texas Board of Education primary result could spell a return to culture wars

Left to right: State Board of Education District 11 incumbent Pat Hardy and her two Republican primary challengers, Feyi Obamehinti and Cheryl Surber. Photos from Facebook campaign pages

Over her 16 years on the State Board of Education, Pat Hardy has rallied for her share of socially conservative measures. She’s endorsed keeping “pro-American” values in history textbooks. She’s backed emphasizing “states’ rights” instead of slavery as the cause of the Civil War. And she’s supported teaching “both sides” of arguments around climate change.

But her Republican challengers in the March 6 primaries — Feyi Obamehinti and Cheryl Surber— are telling voters that they’re even further to the right. (Surber’s campaign Facebook page even refers to her as the “Donald Trump of the Texas State Board of Education” candidate.)

“It’s probably true!” Hardy said. “Which is funny because I’m very conservative. But they are to the right of me.”

The Fort Worth representative, a retired public school social studies teacher, is fighting to keep her seat in one of the most anticipated State Board of Education contests this year. Hardy’s District 11 seat is one of seven up in the 2018 midterms, including three other seats where incumbents are also fending off challengers. Three other incumbents are stepping down, prompting open races.

But experts say Hardy’s race in particular could help determine whether the board will retain its recent political equilibrium or return to a more polarized iteration characterized by frequent head-butting among the board’s liberal, moderate Republican and social conservative factions, which has earned it national notoriety for decades.

“With three open seats, this is a really important election for the state board, because the board has moved closer to the center over the last several election cycles,” said Dan Quinn, spokesperson for left-leaning state board watchdog Texas Freedom Network. “The question is whether it will continue to do that or if we’ll see a swing back to the fringe politics that have dominated the board for the last 20 years, or longer than 20 years.”

Whoever wins will be responsible for setting curriculum standards and making textbook recommendations for schools across the state, deciding what 5.4 million Texas students learn.

Over the next couple of years, the new board’s responsibilities will include the politically fraught duty of tackling a full revision of health standards, including how schools teach sex education, informing the content for textbooks Texas teachers will use for years.

“What students learn about contraception in a state with one of the highest rates of teen birth rates in the nation will be up for debate,” Quinn said.

Challenging a swing vote

The State Board of Education has 15 members, each representing nearly 2 million Texans. Though the board is made up of 10 Republicans and five Democrats, its debates often divide the board three ways — between Democrats, moderate conservatives and social conservatives.

Hardy describes herself as a Republican who doesn’t always fit the mold, often a swing vote on the board.

“You have a balance on the board, which means that each of those three groups are compelled to work with one of the others to accomplish their goals,” said David Anderson, a longtime education lobbyist at Hillco Partners. “If you lose Pat to one of the other two candidates, you lose a critical part of that balance.”

Hardy’s district covers Parker County and parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties.

Hardy does not believe Texas should subsidize private school tuition for parents. “I’ve always felt the public school was a unique thing that historically set us apart from other countries because we had free education,” she said.

Her opponents argue parents should be able to use state money to go to any type of school they want. Obamehinti, a former public school teacher and current education consultant from Keller, also homeschooled her daughter for 11 years and wants to make it easier for other parents to have the same option.

The board has no jurisdiction over whether to approve vouchers or similar programs, but candidates’ views on this issue may indicate whether they want to improve the current public education system or overhaul it in favor of a more free-market approach.

Obamehinti also supports teaching creationism in science classrooms and is skeptical of the idea that the state should approve a Mexican-American studies course, a current consideration on the board. She argues she can do a better job of reaching out to constituents than Hardy has done. “I live in District 11, and I have never had any outreach in 16 years,” she said.

Surber said she would never be a swing vote on the board. “I’m like the Donald Trump of this race. I want to hear various sides, even sides that might disagree with me,” she said. She said she is not in favor of a Mexican-American studies course for Texas because students are “in the United States of America. We’re not in Mexico. We’re not in Canada. We need to learn American history.”

She holds extreme views on many subjects and often affirms various conspiracy theories on her personal Facebook page. This week, she put up a few posts suggesting survivors of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting who have publicly advocated for gun control measures are “crisis actors,” not students, a notion that has been widely debunked.

Two Democrats are also running for Hardy’s seat: Carla Morton, a pediatric neuropsychologist and special education advocate in Fort Worth, and Celeste Light, who has no campaign website set up and has not responded to media requests for comment.

Decisive primaries

Three State Board members — Beaumont Republican David Bradley, Dallas Republican Geraldine “Tincy” Miller and Fort Worth Democrat Erika Beltran — are stepping down this year. In all three seats, a candidate from the incumbent’s party is running unopposed in the primary: Matt Robinson in Bradley’s District 7, Pam Little in Miller’s District 12, and Aicha Davis in Beltran’s District 13.

Given their voting history, those districts are unlikely to change party hands, meaning those three candidates will win, said Mark Jones, political science professor at Rice University. “We often talk about how the primaries are decisive. In the State Board of Education, they’re 100 percent decisive,” he said. “There’s no doubt whatsoever about who’s going to win in November because of the way the districts have been drawn.”

Bradley, one of those incumbents, is widely considered one of the most socially conservative and most divisive members on the board, supporting abstinence-only education and creationism in science classes.

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” he said, before the board voted to adopt more right-leaning social studies curriculum standards in 2010. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

In 2016, he sent an email proposing board members walk out of a discussion about a Mexican-American studies textbook that advocates and academics considered racist, in order to “deny the Hispanics a record vote.”

Bradley’s likely replacement is Robinson, a Friendswood ISD board member and physician, the only Republican running for the District 7 seat. Bradley endorsed Robinson a few months after he filed paperwork to run.

“Generally speaking, if you voted for David Bradley in the past, you’d feel good about voting for me,” Robinson said. “If you didn’t, you might still be happy with me.”

Robinson said schools should teach abstinence-only sexual education: “I think that should be the limit of what they do.”

He supports state subsidy programs that would help parents pay for private schools, such as vouchers or education savings accounts — generally opposed by public education advocates, who see the subsidies as a potential financial drain on public schools.

But, unlike many conservatives who support these subsidies, Robinson argues a child who takes state money to a private school should have to take the state standardized test or participate in some other form of state accountability. “It would not really be fair to have no restrictions or oversight whatsoever for private schools where state dollars are going,” he said.

Miller, also leaving her seat at the end of the year, is generally considered more moderate than Bradley and is best known for pushing the state’s first law mandating schools serve kids with dyslexia. Miller has endorsed her likely replacement, Pam Little, who is a retired regional vice president at publishing company Houghton Mifflin. Little said she supports abstinence as the first approach to sex education, and has not yet made up her mind on whether health standards should include education on contraception.

When Little ran for Miller’s seat in 2012, she said that local communities should be able to decide whether to offer any additional sex education, given the state’s high teen pregnancy rate.

Beltran endorsed Davis, her likely replacement, upon retiring from the board. A 2011 transplant to Texas, Davis has been a middle and high school science and engineering teacher for the past decade.

Disclosure: Hillco Partners and Rice University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at


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Steering committee looks at long-term goals for educator prep, retention

The steering committee for the Long-Range Plan for Public Education met this morning, Feb. 21, in Austin to address educator preparation, recruitment, and retention in Texas. The 18-member committee has been appointed by the State Board of Education (SBOE) to recommend long-term goals for Texas public schools.

Long-Range Plan for Public Education steering committee meeting, Feb. 21, 2018.

Before delving into the day’s agenda, the committee addressed a question regarding how the final report will be compiled. An earlier deep dive session on school funding recommended the state perform a study on the effectiveness of the Texas school finance system on a regular basis, and the committee expressed a desire to retain control of this particular component of the report as opposed to turning it over to an outside partner to compile.

Next came a discussion of educator preparation. Texas school districts hire 30,000 teachers a year. A total of 135 educator preparation providers offer 260 programs, including 153 traditional programs and 107 alternative certification programs. In 2014-2015, 18,626 teachers enrolled in alternative certification programs, compared to 16,425 who enrolled in traditional certification programs. The top traditional program providers are state universities, with Texas A&M University topping the list. A+ Texas Teachers was the most popular alternative certification provider, though many alt-cert teachers used web-centric alternative certification programs.

Nationally, enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped 31 percent from 2009 to 2013. Enrollment fell 48 percent in Texas from 2009 to 2014. This happened as the number of students has steadily increased. According to a peer-reviewed journal article on Texas teacher preparation, new teachers are more likely to teach low-performing students and in high-poverty schools. Among the challenges facing teachers is a demographic mismatch between teachers and students. The majority of teachers are white, while the majority of students are Hispanic. SBOE Member Georgina Perez (D-El Paso) suggested tracking the number of teachers prepared by minority serving institutions (MSIs).

The committee also discussed the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) “Grow Your Own” program, which is focused on recruiting high school students who show talent and interest in education to pursue a career in teaching. This includes a grant program and clinical training programs for rural teachers, as well as partnerships such as Teach Forward Houston, which pairs Houston ISD and the University of Houston to offer selected applicants up to $20,000 to pursue a teaching degree and teach in the district.

More than one of five Texas teachers leave their position each year, which is higher than the 16 percent national average. Most, 43 percent, listed “personal or life reasons” for leaving. Another 31 percent listed “change of career.” Special education teachers left at nearly double the rate. While lower-income and lower-performing schools saw higher teacher attrition, schools with larger populations of English language learners (ELLs) saw lower rates.

Some of the proposals for retaining teachers include developing career pathways that can lead to increased pay and responsibilities without leaving the classroom, inexpensive housing for teachers, and programs to subsidize tuition and help repay student loans. SBOE Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence) raised a question about the earning power of teachers today, relative to in the past, and pointed out that the cost of health insurance has increased much faster than salaries.

Members of the steering committee broke into working groups Wednesday morning to study these components in depth. The committee plans to develop a set of recommendations by April, and a draft report by May.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Feb. 2, 2018

Happy Groundhog’s Day! Here’s this week’s education news digest from ATPE:

Monday, Feb. 5, is your last chance to register to vote in the March 6 primary election. Registrations must be postmarked by Monday’s 30-day-out deadline in order to be effective for the upcoming Republican and Democratic primary elections. Visit the Texas Secretary of State’s website to verify your registration status, especially if you have moved since the last election.

ATPE urges all educators to participate in the upcoming primary election, for which the early voting period begins on Feb. 20, 2018. The outcomes of the overwhelming majority of elections in Texas are determined by the results of the primaries rather than the general election that takes place in November. This is because many district boundaries are drawn during the redistricting process to favor one political party over others. As a result, some races will only feature candidates from a single political party, meaning that party’s primary election will determine the ultimate winner of the race no matter what happens in November.

Since Texas is an open primary state where all voters can choose to participate in either the Republican or Democratic party primaries in March, we encourage educators to look at the candidates running in their area and decide which primary election will give them the best opportunity to decide who will represent their interests in the coming years as an elected official. Remember that regardless of which primary you choose in the spring, you can vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliations in the November general election. Use our “Candidates” search page here on Teach the Vote to find out which candidates are running in your area and where they stand on education issues.

Carl Garner

ICYMI: ATPE State President Carl Garner penned an editorial about why it’s important for educators to vote and promote a culture of voting. As certain politicians and wealthy special interest groups continue their efforts to intimidate educators out of voting in the upcoming primaries, ATPE’s elected leader urges his colleagues to make sure they are registered to vote, aware of the candidates’ positions on public education, and ready to make informed choices at the polls. “My fellow educators and I are fired up about voting,” wrote Garner. “We want to model what we teach, showing our students what informed and engaged citizens are supposed to do.” For more, check out Carl’s piece published yesterday by the Texas Tribune for its TribTalk website.


SBOE meeting in Austin, Feb. 2, 2018.

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) concluded its first meeting of 2018 today in Austin. The board approved a raft of items from its subordinate committees and delayed action on consideration of new curriculum standards for a Mexican-American studies course, as discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. More from that discussion can be found in this report by the Texas Tribune.

The board engaged in a lengthy discussion regarding the training required for local school board trustees. Training requirements were altered by legislation passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, which necessitated updates to administrative rules. Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff reminded the audience of the remaining public meetings to solicit input regarding the Long-Range Plan for Public Education:

  • Feb. 7, 9 to 11 a.m., Region 1 ESC, Edinburg
  • Feb. 8, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Region 4 ESC, Houston
  • Feb. 20, 4 to 6 p.m., TEA Headquarters, Austin
  • Feb. 28, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Region 16 ESC, Amarillo

An online survey regarding the plan is open at the TEA website through March 2, 2018.

Read more highlights of this week’s SBOE meetings in the following blog posts from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins:




SBOE reviews SBEC rules regarding misconduct reporting

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) returned to the headquarters of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Thursday morning for committee meetings. The Committee on School initiatives considered a number of items handed up from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), which the SBOE is empowered to approve or reject.

SBOE Committee on School Initiatives meeting February 1, 2018.

The committee gave the green light to new pedagogical and professional responsibilities standards, as well as standards for the new prekindergarten through grade three certificate. Members also gave the nod to changes regarding the certification of educators from other countries.

The committee also reviewed new SBEC rules implementing Senate Bill (SB) 7. Under the legislation passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, principals have to report to superintendents when they become aware of a potentially inappropriate relationship between an educator and a student. The law also gives SBEC the authority to issue fines against principals and superintendents who fail to report as required, which SBEC has set at $500 and $5,000, respectively. Additionally, the law grants authority for SBEC to sanction or deny certification for someone who has been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student or aided in obtaining employment for someone they know to have had an inappropriate relationship.

The School Initiatives committee concluded its meeting with an update on the Long-Range Plan for Public Education, which has been the subject of several community meetings across the state. Six meetings have already been held, and four more are currently scheduled to allow local educators and stakeholders to provide input on issues important to the future of public education in Texas. The TEA has launched an online survey (which can be found here) to solicit additional feedback, and to date have had more than 1,100 responses. A steering committee is expected to release preliminary recommendations at an April 9 meeting.

The full board will return Friday.

SBOE and SBEC gather to focus on educator supports

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) and State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) came together under one roof for the first time Wednesday to participate in a learning roundtable on recruiting, preparing and retaining top teachers hosted by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA).

Members of the SBOE and SBEC pose together at the TASA Midwinter Conference on January 31, 2018.

One of the first panels focused on “grow your own” models for teacher recruitment, and featured representatives from Teach Denton and the STEP UP program in Harlingen. These local programs focus on internships and outreach at the high school level to track future educators into a career in education. Opportunities such as student teaching experiences may serve to attract and prepare students who will thrive in a teaching career.

Keynote speakers included Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion, and author and speaker Peter M. DeWitt. DeWitt presented six influences that lead to improved student outcomes: Collective teacher efficacy, assessment capable learners, feedback, professional development, family engagement and instructional leadership. Lemoy walked educators through several videos illustrating classroom engagement, and encouraged educators to consider the ratio of who’s doing the mental work in a classroom: The teacher or the students. Highly performing classrooms feature students who are actively engaged in classroom discussions.

According to Lemoy, watching “game films” of teachers in the classroom can help educators evaluate that ratio. One observation obtained through this practice suggests that asking students to write before answering questions orally improves participation. Another suggests that giving students more time to consider a question before asking for an answer enables more students to contribute. Lemoy stressed the importance of creating a positive classroom culture, in particular one that gives students the confidence to make mistakes in order to learn from them.

The afternoon featured a panel discussion on district preparation program partnerships, such as the partnership between Midway ISD and Baylor University. Texas Tech University Dean Scott Ridley warned that many new teachers are reaching the classroom without any previous experience teaching a classroom as part of their educator preparation training. Ridley noted more than half of new teachers are coming through the late hire alternate certification pathway. At the same time, many school districts are waiving requirements to hire certified classroom teachers. Dr. Ridley advocated for more classroom training for teacher candidates. The Teacher Education Program at Texas Tech incorporates video to record and review the classroom performance of teacher candidates.

The day concluded with panels on supporting teachers early in their career, as well as opportunities for growth and development for experienced teachers. The SBOE is scheduled to return to their regular setting at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) headquarters on Thursday, where then will take up various items before the board committees.

SBOE begins first meeting of 2018

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) met Tuesday in Austin for its first meeting of 2018, which comes incidentally at the same time as the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) Midwinter Conference. As usual, the board began its week-long meeting with an update from Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath.

Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting January 30, 2018.

Commissioner Morath began by talking about resources to aid the rollout of new English and Spanish Language Arts and Reading (ELAR/SLAR) Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The commissioner also indicated that the agency was in the process of creating a new instructional materials portal as required by legislation passed by the 85th Texas Legislature. Basic information about quality evaluation is expected in the fall, while the portal itself is not anticipated to become active until a year from then – and then on a limited basis as additional sections come online. Part of the same legislation, a resource for “open source instructional materials” is on track for summer 2020. Morath indicated the agency is not recommending any schedule adjustments regarding the rollout of new TEKS or instructional materials proclamations at the current meeting.

The commissioner did recommend the board consider at a future meeting a possible adjustment to the standard TEKS adoption timeline. The commissioner suggested recent TEKS revisions have been rolled out on shorter timelines, and recommended allowing two and a half to three years for new TEKS to become fully effective in the classroom in order to allow for maximum support structures and alignment. By delaying the need for districts to purchase new instructional materials, Morath suggested local school resources could be freed up by distributing new materials purchases over a biennium.

Member Pat Hardy (R-Fort Worth) raised the idea of holding schools harmless from accountability during the first year in which new TEKS have been implemented. Member Barbara Cargill (R-Conroe) echoed support for this idea, which was not warmly received by the commissioner. Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence) also noted that for some non-assessed courses, new TEKS may be outdated after three years.

Member Lawrence Allen (D-Houston) asked about the process for granting accountability exemptions to districts disrupted by Hurricane Harvey and other weather-related closures. Morath indicated that the agency is setting cut points for determining which districts will not be rated.

In response to a question about special education services from Member Marisa Perez-Diaz (D-Converse), Morath laid out the agency’s timeline for developing a corrective action plan, which can be found in detail on this post by ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

The board also discussed the idea of transitioning to “machine readable” TEKS, which would be standardized so that TEKS could be tracked and indexed much like HTML is designed to work with internet search engines. Proponents suggest this would improve interoperability and allow educators to more easily and efficiently navigate individual TEKS components. Staff also requested additional applicants to help with curriculum review for elementary grades and geography. You can find more information about the TEKS review process here.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Jan. 5, 2018

Happy New Year! Here’s a look at this week’s education news from ATPE Governmental Relations:

As the first week of January comes to a close, many people are setting their New Year’s resolutions for 2018. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter suggests adding a resolution to become a more engaged and informed voter in 2018 to your list. Read more tips in his blog post here.


The State Board of Education (SBOE) is hosting a series of upcoming meetings to gather feedback from educators on the state’s Long-Range Plan for Public Education. Stakeholder events are scheduled this month and next month in Houston, San Antonio, Salado, Amarillo, and the Rio Grande Valley. To learn more about how educators can register to participate in these community conversations, check out this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.


Federal education officials have weighed in on the Texas Education Agency’s draft state plan for compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As reported in this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann, the state is preparing a revised submission next week to address revisions sought by the U.S. Department of Education.



SBOE seeks local educators’ input

The State Board of Education (SBOE) will conduct two meetings this month and three more in February to allow local stakeholders, including educators, to participate in discussions regarding the Long-Range Plan for Public Education.

The plan is guided by a steering committee tasked with recommending long-term goals for the state’s public school system through the year 2030 and to identify strengths, opportunities, and challenges. The 18-member steering committee includes SBOE chair Donna Bahorich (R-Houston) and members Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands), Tom Maynard (R-Florence), Georgina Perez (D-El Paso), and Marty Rowley (R-Amarillo).

The board is currently conducting local community meetings across the state in order to solicit input on the following topics:

  • Educator preparation, recruitment, and retention
  • Equity and access to funding, technology, and advanced courses
  • Student engagement and empowerment to provide effective support systems for students and prepare them for life after high school
  • Family engagement and empowerment to help parents become strong advocates for their children in the education system.

The board plans to release an online survey to collect additional feedback. In the meantime, these community meetings offer a valuable opportunity for educators to meet and share their personal perspectives with members of the State Board of Education. ATPE encourages those who are close to one of the upcoming meeting locations to take advantage of this opportunity. The following dates and locations are coming soon:

Jan. 9 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Region 20 Education Service Center

1314 Hines Ave., San Antonio

Click HERE to register.


Jan. 18 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Salado Civic Center

601 N. Main St., Salado.

Click HERE to register.


Feb. 8 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Region 4 Education Service Center’s McKinney Conference Center

7200 Northwest 100 Dr., Houston

Click HERE to register.


Feb. 16 – 9-11 a.m.

Location TBD

Rio Grande Valley

Registration not yet opened.


Feb. 28 – 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Region 16 Education Service Center’s Panhandle Conference Center

5800 Bell St., Amarillo

Click HERE to register.


The board encourages those planning to attend to register in advance, but no registration is required and educators will be welcomed at the door. A summary of comments from the Nov. 2 meeting in El Paso is available HERE.


Texas school endowment hits record value

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced Tuesday that the endowment used to help fund public education in Texas hit a milestone achievement. The Permanent School Fund (PSF) reached its highest-ever value of $41.44 billion as of August 31, up $4.16 over the previous year.

The nation’s largest educational endowment today, the PSF was created in 1854 with a $2 million appropriation by the Texas Legislature. The Constitution of 1876 added certain public lands and all proceeds from the sales of those lands to the fund, and the Submerged Lands Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1953 gave the fund control of mineral rights extending off the Texas coast into the Gulf of Mexico.

The majority of the fund, worth $32.73 billion, is managed by the State Board of Education (SBOE). The remaining $8.7 billion is managed by the General Land Office (GLO) through the School Land Board. The fund is invested in a diverse portfolio of assets and undergoes regular audits and performance reviews. Investment decisions often come before the board’s Committee on School Finance and the Permanent School Fund.

“The Permanent School Fund is the gift that keeps on giving to Texas schools,” State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich said in a statement provided by the TEA. “With the board’s careful oversight and the continued strong day-to-day administration of the Fund by the Permanent School Fund staff, the Fund will continue to support Texas schools for generations to come.”

“During the 2018-2019 biennium, the Permanent School Fund is projected to distribute $2.5 billion to Texas schools,” SBOE member David Bradley, who chairs the PSF committee, told the TEA. “This is the largest distribution in the Fund’s 163-year history and is $400 million higher than the distribution made in the 2016-2017 biennium.”

The PSF is also used to guarantee bonds by leveraging the fund’s AAA credit rating. Since 1983, the Bond Guarantee Program (BGP) has guaranteed more than $166 billion in bonds without default. In 2011, the Texas Legislature allowed charters to access the BGP. Despite the danger posed by risking taxpayer funds to guarantee loans to charters, which have shown a greater likelihood of financial trouble or default than school districts, the Texas Legislature passed legislation in 2017 to expand the amount of capacity available to charters.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 10, 2017

The weekend is here, and it’s time for your wrap-up of education news from ATPE:

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met in Austin this week for its November meeting, and ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has all you need to know in a series of posts covering the four-day agenda. The board began its week on Tuesday with a review of the Permanent School Fund (PSF), an update from Commissioner Mike Morath, and work sessions on school finance and new textbooks. Board members met again on Wednesday to act on a lengthy agenda, which included the rejection of a Mexican-American studies textbook that was up for consideration as an addition to the list of approved instructional materials. Wiggins reports more on the board’s first two days here.

On Thursday, committees of the board met to consider a variety of issues, including making a final determination on rules adopted by SBEC, and the full board convened again today to make final decisions on most of the above.

As the board wraps up its regular meetings for 2017, attention turns to a series of regional meetings scheduled from November through February. The meetings will focus on collecting feedback as the board prepares to update its Long-Range Plan for Education. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday in Kilgore. More on the purpose of the meetings and meeting schedule can be found in this post highlighting a Texas Education Agency (TEA) press release on the topic.


As the Texas legislature works to assess the impacts of Hurricane Harvey on state infrastructure, spending, and policies, Senate and House education committees continue a series of committee hearings focused on the storm’s hit to public education. On Monday, the Senate Education Committee met in Houston to hear from affected districts, educational service centers, and other stakeholders. Committee members also heard from Commissioner Mike Morath who shared TEA’s response and supports related to the hurricane. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann attended the hearing and offers an overview of the discussion here.

Next week, the House Public Education Committee will meet for its second hearing on the topic, this time to hear from teachers and other stakeholders on the following Harvey-specific interim charges issued by Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio):

  • Recommend any measures needed at the state level to prevent unintended punitive consequences to both students and districts in the state accountability system as a result of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
  • Examine the educational opportunities offered to students displaced by Hurricane Harvey throughout the state and the process by which districts enroll and serve those students. Recommend any changes that could improve the process for students or help districts serving a disproportionate number of displaced students.

The House committee will meet on Tuesday at 8:00am in the Texas Capitol. Tune in live or catch an archived video of the hearing here.


Tuesday was Election Day in Texas and the rest of the country. In addition to approving all seven of the constitutional amendments proposed on the ballot, many Texans went to the polls to approve a number of local ISD bond proposals. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter has a analysis of these elections and a few other education-related proposals here.

Disappointing voter turnout on Election Day yielded the second lowest participation rate in 40 years; only 5.8% of eligible voters headed to the polls. Texans must do better as we head toward the March primaries, which decide the vast majority of Texas’s local, state, and federal officeholders. Are you registered to vote? Have you taken the Texas Educators Vote oath? Is your district one that has committed to creating a culture of voting? Important elections are just around the corner and your voice needs to be heard. Prepare to vote in March and learn more by visiting the Texas Educators Vote website and following them on Twitter.