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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: April 19, 2024

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 4/19/2024

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

EARLY VOTING: Early voting starts Monday and ends April 30 for the May 4 local election, when many school board, appraisal district, and bond elections are on the ballot. Visit vote411.org to see what races will be on your ballot, and be sure to listen to the latest episode of The ATPE Podcast to learn more about the importance of these elections. ATPE’s newest lobbyist, Heather Sheffield, who serves on a Central Texas school board, explains why it’s critical to vote in local elections like this one. Voters who live in Senate District (15) will also have the opportunity vote in a special election May 4 to fill the seat of former Sen. John Whitmire, who represented this Houston district for 40 years before being elected mayor of Houston in December 2023. (If you happen to live in a district with a primary election runoff, you’ll have another round of voting May 28. The deadline to register to vote in the primary runoff is April 29.) 

HB 900: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an en banc decision Monday affirming its decision to overturn a law that would have required book publishers to develop a rating system based on sexual content. The full court voted 9-8 to deny rehearing a lawsuit filed by book publishers against House Bill (HB) 900 by Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco), which the Texas Legislature passed in 2023. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has more in this blog post. 

TRS-CARE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE: The TRS Board of Trustees will consider lowering premiums for the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage health care plan during its May meeting, with a vote on the matter expected in July. Read this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Heather Sheffield to learn why TRS is positioned to pass on cost savings to eligible plan participants. 

TRIBUNE PANEL: The Texas Tribune hosted a panel Tuesday titled “How New Laws are Affecting Public Education in Texas,” and ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave has a full recap. The hourlong conversation focused primarily on the need for and impact of three pieces of legislation passed in 2023: SB 2124 by Senate Education Chairman Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe), which created an advanced mathematics program for students in middle school in an effort to increase the number of students in high school advanced math; HB 1605 by House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley (R–Salado), which allows the state to develop and distribute “High-Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM)” to school districts that choose to implement them, with a stipend for districts that do so; and HB 1416 by Rep. Keith Bell (R–Forney), which implements some changes to the accelerated instruction mandated by HB 4545  in a previous session. 

CHARTERS: ATPE was one of 20 education organizations to sign an April 15 letter offering comment on proposed rule changes to 19 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 100, Subchapter AA (Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Open-Enrollment Charter Schools). The proposed rule changes would lower certain academic and financial performance metrics for charters, limit information provided in charter applications, create a new class of charter schools, eliminate expansion of geographic boundaries as an expansion amendment that requires notice, change some ethics rules, and more. Read the letter here.

TESTING ACCOMMODATIONS: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) reached an agreement Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Justice related to a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act alleging that an individual with dyslexia and dysgraphia was denied accommodations while taking the Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam. Under the agreement, TEA will allow accommodations such as the use of a qualified reader or text-to-speech technology when appropriate for STR test candidates. 


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