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Highlights of the ATPE lobbyists’ advocacy update during the ATPE Summit

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 7/11/2023 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell

Members of the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) are gathered this week in Round Rock for their annual ATPE Summit, featuring professional development sessions, keynote speakers, and the association’s annual House of Delegates. On Tuesday, July 11, attendees began their day hearing a presentation from some of ATPE’s lobbyists about recent legislative developments.

ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter shared highlights and lowlights of the 2023 regular legislative session and ongoing special sessions. Exter noted the role played by the 2022 Uvalde school shooting in shaping legislation on school safety during the regular session. He said lawmakers added funding to the budget to address keeping school safe, and Exter explained ATPE's goal was for legislators to help school districts without tying their hands on such a complicated, multifaceted issue.

Exter introduced Tricia Cave, ATPE’s newest lobbyist, who shared information about the push for private school vouchers and ATPE’s work to stop those bills. Cave explained that teacher compensation increases were linked to voucher proposals backed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), and the proposed increases to teacher salaries were insufficient.

With one special session completed and a second special session still underway, the lobby team spoke about current negotiations over property tax relief. Lawmakers in both the Senate and House proposed adding a teacher pay increase to the property tax bills under consideration. An announced deal between the two chambers Monday, which we reported here on Teach the Vote, excludes any provision for increased school funding or teacher pay. Exter explained that Abbott wants to hold teacher pay raises hostage in exchange for private school vouchers and is expected to call a special session on education issues in the fall.

“It’s important to remember that Abbott is not the king of Texas, but the governor of Texas who was elected to serve you,” Exter told the crowd to cheers.

Exter said ATPE will continue to push for pay raises and against vouchers, but it will be important for educators to make a difference at the polls in 2024 by holding their elected official accountable for their treatment of public education.

ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins reminded the group that the elections of 2018 played a key role in getting the Legislature to pass a major school finance bill with a significant teacher pay increase in the 2019 session.

“They don’t care about us unless they fear us,” said Wiggins, “and they don’t fear us unless we go vote.”

Based in Washington, D.C., longtime ATPE contract lobbyist David Pore spoke about efforts to repeal federal Social Security laws. He expressed that many in Congress are interested in repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), but the proposals are extremely costly.

“The problem is the money,” explained Pore. “Every time this bill gets momentum and looks like it might pass, the leadership of the Congress—whether Republican or Democratic—puts the brakes on it. They say, ‘We can’t afford that.’”

Pore also praised ATPE State President Stacey Ward for her representation of the association and her trip to Washington to urge Congress to pass Social Security legislation. Ward is presiding over the ATPE House of Delegates that also convenes Tuesday to elect new state officers, adopt the ATPE Legislative Program, and conduct other business.



Richard Wiggins

The most important people in a free society today are parents, teachers and preachers. Let respect, honor, appreciate them!

Alice Pomeroy

Consider changing retirement of teachers back to the rule of 80 to maintain good teachers.

Martha James

Ed Thank you for our much need teacher retirement raises and stipend for teachers over 70.


Thank you, Ms. Mitchell for a good report.

Patricia Mulholland

COME ON! THIS IS SO LOGICAL! Give us MORE funding for ALL OUR schools, GIVE TEACHERS the RAISE they DESERVE, a lower testing and accountability burden, and NO VOUCHERS!

Laura Resendez

No on vouchers and yes to teacher pay raise. It’s time legislators do something for teachers and public education without any more days or hours of work


Teachers in Public Schools need Higher pay, before you loss them to the private sector in order for them to survive! We need less testing on these kids and we need to say NO to Vouchers.

Hector Ugarte

Justice for teacher’s professionalism, higher salaries is what is right.


Teachers in Public Schools need Higher pay, before you loss them to the private sector in order for them to survive! We need less testing on these kids and we need to say NO to Vouchers.

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