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Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Dec. 15, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 12/15/2023

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

2024 PRIMARIES: The candidate filing deadline for the 2024 primary elections was Dec. 11, and as expected, private school vouchers will be a key issue in many races. Several of the pro-public education state representatives who voted for the anti-voucher Raney amendment are retiring, and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is already endorsing the opponents of those who seek to continue their legislative service. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave takes a look at the primary election landscape in this blog post. It is critical that public educators show up at the polls just as they have shown up during recent special sessions to advocate for public schools. An estimated 80,000 Texas voters represented by Raney amendment supporters received postcards this week from the pro-voucher, Koch brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity–Texas. The postcards feature the Grinch and green-tinted photos of the state reps and, in a strained analogy, compare the state reps to the Grinch because of their pro-public school vote. ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter had a different take in this Dallas Morning News article: “Whether it’s the Grinch, Scrooge or Greg Abbott and his cronies, Texans know a bully when they see one, and there is nothing more Texan than standing up to a bully,” Exter said. 

SBOE: The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) convened a special one-day meeting Wednesday to continue working on a lengthy to-do list resulting from legislation passed by the 88th Texas Legislature. The board approved several new rules pertaining to granting certain curriculum products a label of “high-quality instructional materials” under House Bill (HB) 1605, including rubrics for evaluating the quality and suitability of instructional materials, as well as a review process. (KUT News spoke with ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter about ATPE’s concerns regarding HB 1605 implementation.) 

The board also approved standards proposed by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) governing school library collection development and sexual content in library books as required by HB 900. Each district will be required to adopt a school library policy that prohibits books deemed “sexually explicit” and addresses how to treat books deemed “sexually relevant.” The standards outline acceptable practices for challenging and appealing books and for providing public transparency regarding school library collections. 

HOUSTON ISD: Houston ISD—which has been under the leadership of Texas Education Agency (TEA)-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles and a TEA-appointed board of managers since June—will become a District of Innovation (DOI) per a unanimous board vote Thursday. The HISD DOI plan outlines seven state laws the district will exempt itself from under its DOI status, including increased flexibility to hire uncertified teachers at the high school level. HISD is the state’s largest school district and joins 975 other Texas school districts in acquiring DOI status.

ATPE PODCAST: In the latest episode of The ATPE Podcast, ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter updates us on the fight against private school vouchers as we (seemingly) transition from a string of special sessions to the 2024 primary elections. Listen on your favorite streaming service, or watch the YouTube version.

ATPE SUMMIT: The 2024 ATPE Summit will take place July 8–10 at the Sheraton Dallas, and the Summit Programming Committee is seeking member submissions for innovative and engaging professional development sessions on the topics of most interest to Texas educators. The Call for Proposals deadline is Feb. 16, 2024. Learn more about how to submit your proposal in this ATPE Blog post.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: The ATPE state officers, board, and staff wish everyone in the #txed community a happy and safe holiday season! The ATPE state office will be closed Dec. 18–Jan. 1, so Teach the Vote’s Week in Review will return Jan. 5. (We will cover any breaking Texas education news over the holidays.) See you in 2024!


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