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

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Texas Legislature Congress | Federal Elections Curriculum | Instruction TEA | Commissioner | SBOE Privatization | Vouchers School Safety Miscellaneous

Date Posted: 1/19/2024

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

UVALDE REPORT: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland released a 610-page Department of Justice report Thursday outlining “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” that led to an increased number of deaths in the May 24, 2022, shooting at Uvalde CISD’s Robb Elementary School. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed by an active shooter. “Had law enforcement agencies followed generally accepted practices in an active shooter situation and gone right after the shooter to stop him, lives would have been saved and people would have survived,” Garland said during a news conference Thursday. Read more in The Texas Tribune.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES: On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the Texas Education Agency from enforcing House Bill (HB) 900, a bill passed by the 88th Legislature that requires booksellers to rate materials sold to schools as “sexually explicit” or “sexually relevant,” with the terms based on vague language in criminal statute. As The Texas Tribune reported, the court ruled the required ratings would be “neither factual nor uncontroversial,” would amount to “compelled speech,” and would be an “undue economic burden” on book vendors. Some components of HB 900 still stand, including a requirement that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission create new library standards and a prohibition on school libraries’ including “sexually explicit” materials in their collections.

PRIMARY ELECTIONS: You have 17 days left to make sure you are registered to vote in the March primary election. The deadline to register is Feb. 5. Take two minutes now and visit votetexas.gov to confirm your voter registration. If you need to register or update your name or address, do so now. This ATPE Blog post explains why the March primaries, not the November general election, are the most consequential in terms of Texas public education. The majority of races for the Texas Legislature will be decided in March because of the way Texas legislative districts are drawn—and the majority of decisions about Texas public education, including about the funding available for your salary, health insurance, and retirement benefits, is made by the Texas Legislature.

Mark these key primary election dates on your calendar:

  • Feb. 5: Voter registration deadline
  • Feb. 20: Early voting begins
  • Feb. 23: Last day to apply for a ballot to vote by mail
  • March 1: Early voting ends
  • March 5: Election Day

If you need further motivation, consider the $6 million donation Gov. Greg Abbott (R) received from a Pennsylvania billionaire/voucher supporter in December. Abbott is currently targeting House Republicans who voted against private school vouchers during the 88th Legislature. The entire public education community—teachers, administrators, support personnel, parents, grandparents, etc.—must show up at the polls and vote for pro-public ed candidates to counteract well-funded opponents seeking to dismantle public schools.

Primary Elections: The Real March Madness WebinarJAN. 24 WEBINAR: Join the ATPE Governmental Relations team at 5:30 p.m. CT Jan. 24 for “Primary Elections: The REAL March Madness,” a free webinar presented through our Gen ATPE program for educators aged 30 and younger. No matter your age, you are welcome to attend and learn the ins and outs of the unique Texas primary system and why the March primary—not the November general election—is arguably the most important election on the 2024 Texas elections calendar. We will discuss: primary and primary runoff rules and dates; why strategy, not party, is the best way to choose which primary to vote in; the outsized importance of the primary in electing state legislators; and how to get educated and get engaged, including using ATPE resources. Register now. (And tell your friends!)

ATPE SUMMIT: You still have time to submit proposals for the 2024 ATPE Summit! The 2024 ATPE Summit will take place July 8–10 at the Sheraton Dallas, and the Summit Programming Committee is seeking submissions for innovative and engaging professional development sessions on the topics of most interest to Texas educators. Whether you’re a seasoned presenter or an educator interested in sharing your experience and perspectives with others for the first time, consider submitting a proposal for this year’s summit. The submission deadline is Feb. 16. Read this recent ATPE Blog post to learn more about how to submit proposals and what kind of proposals the committee is seeking.



Deann Lee

LOVE the idea of the The Real March Madness! So needed for people to understand.

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