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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: June 30, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 6/30/2023

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

SECOND SPECIAL SESSION: The Texas Senate adjourned sine die Tuesday, ending the first special session with little to show for it. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) immediately called Texas state lawmakers back to Austin for another special session beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

The governor's proclamation asks legislators to pass bills "to cut property-tax rates solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate" and "to put Texas on a pathway to eliminating school district maintenance and operations property taxes." 

Last week we covered Abbott’s vetoes of bills authored by lawmakers who had taken an anti-voucher stance in the regular session. Although Abbott’s focus has shifted from vouchers to property tax relief, he is expected to call another special session for private school voucher legislation later this year. 

TEACHER COMPENSATION: The Senate passed Sen. Paul Bettencourt’s (R–Houston) Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1, which is a constitutional amendment that would increase the homestead exemption. A floor amendment, offered by Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D–San Antonio), would give teachers a $2,000 one-time stipend with an additional $4,000 for teachers in districts with less than 20,000 students. This amendment and the resolution passed the Senate unanimously. If passed by the House and signed by the governor, the proposal would have to be approved by voters in November.   

In response to the passage of SJR 1, ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter told The Dallas Morning News: “If they want to include as part of property-tax relief a one-time retention bonus for teachers, fantastic. We still need to have a conversation about meaningful, permanent increases to teacher pay.” 

The Senate also passed Bettencourt’s Senate Bill (SB) 1 through the chamber on a unanimous vote.   

ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave has more details on SJR 1 and SB 1 in this blog post

STAAR RESULTS: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released high school end-of-course assessment results Friday. Results showed strong growth in all subject areas, including for Special Education and Emerging Bilingual students. This comes after a year in which the test was moved entirely online and the question formats changed as well to allow for more rigor in the exams. Parents will need a unique access code from their child’s school to be able to view individual scores. Scores for students in grades 3-8 will be available August 16. As previously reported here in Teach the Vote, despite increased performance at the student level, campus and district scores are set to drop when released this fall due to changes in the way TEA calculates those ratings.  

COURTS: The U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling Thursday on the use of affirmative action in college admissions that severely limits, if not effectively ends, the use of the practice. In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that the admissions programs used by the University of North Carolina and Harvard College violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which bars racial discrimination by government entities. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion. Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor on her dissenting opinion. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona released a statement on the ruling. 

The high court also issued a 6-3 ruling this morning striking down the Biden administration’s plan to forgive $400 billion in student loan debt. Federal borrowers who have benefited from temporary pauses in their repayment obligations will have to resume payments in October. The State of Nebraska initially sued the federal government to halt the debt forgiveness plan, and Texas later joined the lawsuit. 

Also this week, a state court has ruled the Texas Department of Public Safety must publicly release its records on the law enforcement response to last year’s Uvalde school shooting. Read more about the order, granted at the request of news outlets, here in the Texas Tribune. 

LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP: ATPE entered the 88th regular session of the Texas Legislature in January 2023 with five priorities: increasing educator pay, defeating vouchers, enhancing educator recruitment and retention, improving school safety, and providing a cost-of-living adjustment for Teacher Retirement System (TRS) retirees.  

Educator pay and defeating vouchers—arguably our top two priorities—were inexorably linked even before the regular session began and continued to be linked all the way through to sine die (the last day of the session). This wrap-up looks at the effort to pass vouchers this session and how we ultimately defeated that effort, and we provide a breakdown of public education-related bills and their outcomes. 

Read ATPE’s 88th Regular Legislative Session Wrap-up

INDEPENDENCE DAY: ATPE wishes you a safe and restful Independence Day weekend! The ATPE State Office will be closed Tuesday, July 4, in observance of the holiday.



Whitney Gibson

I think that if you spend 20 years or more working for a school district then 1) You should have a 50% property exemption on top of any other exemption you rightfully acquire. Dedicating your life to educate our children is the single most important action that an adult can do in their lifetime. Let it come in the form of a certificate that is just as valuable as the teaching certificate and available online where your license is. Downloadable...printable. Teachers are already the lowest paid professionals. This would give our good ones incentive to stay. The bad ones are always weeded out anyway. As for our pay, Tying one''s pay to student performance is a horrible idea. You can lead a horse to water but you can''t make them drink it...this is exactly what this year group of 2027 graduates are. As covid shutdown students we lost important academic time with them and it shows in their emotional and academic growth. Punishing teachers and schools for this loss is not acceptable in anyway. We followed state mandates and it truly feels and looks as if we''ll be punishing the people who were stressed the most over "educating our kids." Teachers were forced to educate students as well as their own children. The stress was off the chart for those of us who cared about outcomes. Homestead tax exemptions for 65 and older should be 100% or you are effectively taxing them out of their homes eventually at ages when they have limited incomes. THIS is a horrible thing to do to people who have spent lives supporting the tax base. If you''re eligible for Social Security at 65, at least consider what living on limited income means. Force adults working "off the books" to WANT to be on the books...tie it to a major incentive at age 65. As for performance evaluations for teachers, if the things above were implemented, at the 10 year point of teaching if you haven''t perfected your "art of educsting" by this point there should be a box checked that tells you to move on to something different. Kinda like the military does, at the 10 year point you''re either a keeper or not.

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