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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 3, 2023

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 11/03/2023

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

SPECIAL SESSION: It was a week filled with much political theater at the Texas State Capitol, but as ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes told the Austin American-Statesman, opposition to private school vouchers remains strong in the Texas House. “We believe the majority of House members remain opposed to vouchers and that [Abbott’s statements are] political theater to either gin up support that isn’t there or establish a narrative for why vouchers aren’t moving, when the truth is it’s because Texans don’t want them,” Holmes said. In this blog post, ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave recaps a flurry of finger-pointing over quorums, as well as expansion of the special session call by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to include teacher pay, school funding, and accountability requirements in addition to vouchers. ATPE released the following statement in response to the governor’s expanded call: “We are disappointed that House leadership will bow to political pressure and compromise the Texas public schools that are the very backbone of Texas communities. We very much need to address issues such as teacher pay and school safety, and they should not be held hostage by this needless attempt to create a government entitlement program.” Opinions varied as to whether the House still had time to act before the third called special session expires Nov. 8, with the governor saying yes and House Public Education Committee Chair Brad Buckley (R–Salado) saying no—another indication the governor’s announcement of a “deal” with the House was an exaggeration at best. Meanwhile, the governor left for a trip to Israel. Significant public disagreements over another item on the call (border security) persist between Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont), and the upshot is that private school vouchers are likely dead for this special session. However, the public education community can only expect a brief respite, as the governor has promised to call lawmakers back for another session on vouchers. It’s only a question of when. 

NOV. 7 ELECTION: Friday was the last day of early voting for the Nov. 7 constitutional amendment election, which includes ATPE-supported Proposition 9 to provide cost-of-living adjustment to certain Teacher Retirement System (TRS) annuitants. If you have not already voted, make a plan to vote Nov. 7. Your ballot may also include local elections, including school board races and bond proposals. The special election for House District 2 is also Nov. 7. This is a race to fill a seat left empty when the Texas House expelled a lawmaker for inappropriate behavior this spring. Only one Republican candidate in the race, Heath Hyde, has publicly stated opposition to private school vouchers, while the others have expressed their support. The race is being watched statewide as a test for public education support of anti-voucher candidates. 

WEP/GPO REFORM: U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R–LA) is leading a formal request signed by 100 members of Congress requesting that the House Ways and Means Committee hold a hearing on H.R. 82, the Social Security Fairness Act. The legislation, which was introduced by Graves to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) Social Security penalties, is the third-most co-sponsored bill of the current congressional session. Worthy of note: One of the co-sponsors is newly elected House Speaker and fellow Louisianan Mike Johnson (R–LA).

SOCIAL STUDIES TEKS: The Texas Education Agency will implement a new version of the Texas Essentials Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum for social studies during the 2024-25 school year, and TEA’s social studies team is holding two stakeholder engagement sessions on the topic in December: 4 p.m. CT Dec. 13 (register here) and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 14 (register here). Teachers, administrators, education service center specialists, and parents are invited. 

ATPE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE: The ATPE Legislative Committee met for the first of several meetings this week. The committee, made up of ATPE members/educators from each of the state’s 20 education service center regions (which are geographically synonymous with ATPE’s membership regions) reviews the ATPE Legislative Program annually. The committee’s recommendations are presented to the ATPE Board of Directors, also made up of volunteer educators from across the state, who ultimately send the recommendations to the ATPE House of Delegates for amendment and adoption. The ATPE House of Delegates consists of hundreds of educators from across the state who come together during the ATPE Summit to conduct the association's business. 

ATPE LOOKBOOK: This week, ATPE introduced a new publication, the ATPE Lookbook. This new publication showcases all the ways the Association of Texas Professional Educators is supporting and advocating for the state’s largest community of educators. Inside, you’ll find infographics and stories that describe our programs and services and demonstrate why we are the leading educator association in Texas, as well as pictures of the members and volunteers who bring our events and philosophy to life. The ATPE Lookbook also features a profile of ATPE State President Jayne Serna, information on a ton of member resources, and spotlights on our volunteers and award winners. 



Deann Lee

Love the new Lookbook! Great idea!

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