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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: April 12, 2024

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 4/12/2024

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

EDTPA: The SBOE voted 8–6 Friday to approve rulemaking from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) regarding the controversial edTPA portfolio assessment, but not without board members’ offering stinging critique of both the TEA staff’s handling of the rulemaking process and a proposal by Sam Houston State University to develop a Texas alternative. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has a recap of the SBOE discussion, as well as a recap of an earlier committee meeting on the topic.

COMMISSIONER: The State Board of Education (SBOE) met April 9–12 in Austin, and one highlight of each SBOE meeting is Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath’s regular presentation to and Q&A with SBOE members. This week Morath focused largely on teacher recruitment and retention issues, as recapped by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins. One troubling statistic shared by Morath is that more than one-third of new teachers are being hired without certification. Morath provided commentary on why this is the case, and that commentary has raised eyebrows within the public education community for being more opinion than fact. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave takes a closer look at Morath’s statements in this blog post. 

SENATE: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) released 57 interim charges for Senate committees to consider between now and Dec. 1 in advance of the 89th Legislature, which begins in January 2025. The Senate Education Committee is tasked with looking at four interim charges: reading and math readiness, testing reform, oversight on the spending of COVID relief funds, and monitoring the implementation of recent bills on school safety, school library content, and high-quality instructional materials and open-educational resources. The Finance Committee’s first interim charge is examining further property tax relief, a perennial topic of discussion. In addition to studying the cost of eliminating all property taxes, the committee is also tasked with determining the cost of eliminating all school property taxes as well as only maintenance and operations (M&O) property taxes. Learn more in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Heather Sheffield. 

GPO/WEP: On the federal level, the U.S. House Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset (GPO) at 2 p.m. CDT April 16. You can watch a livestream of that hearing online at waysandmeans.house.gov/ (livestream won't be available until the hearing starts). You can also submit written comments for the hearing record by emailing WMSubmission@mail.house.gov.

STAAR: In news that had somewhat flown under the radar, many in the public education community became aware this week that TEA is using an “automated scoring engine” to grade open-ended questions on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. TEA is reluctant to call this artificial intelligence (AI) in news reports, such as this story from The Texas Tribune, but the TEA system uses natural language processing technology similar to that used in GPT-4 and Google Gemini. ATPE Marketing & Communications Director Kate Johanns spoke with Austin’s KVUE News about why educators are concerned.

FREE WEBINAR: In 2021, 22% of Texas high school students seriously considered suicide, with approximately 10% reporting an attempt. Understanding the landscape of mental health and the need for compassionate response in our educational communities has never been greater. All Texas educators are invited to join ATPE online at 5:30 p.m. CT April 17 for “Mental Health in You(th),” a free event featuring Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, an internationally recognized professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and the founding Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care. Dr. Trivedi will co-present with Dr. Tobi Fuller, a former classroom educator and the center’s clinical research manager and project lead for the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC) Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) Program. The webinar will include a presentation followed by a live Q&A session. Attendees will also learn about free statewide resources and programs dedicated to mental health and wellness. Live webinar attendees will earn one hour of continuing professional education (CPE) credit. Register now.


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