Campaigns are heating up and the stakes are high for public education. Read more in this week’s wrap-up.
- ELECTION UPDATE: Check out our candidate profiles; Gov. Abbott sets special election in HD-120 for May 7
- Congress holds postponed School Choice Week hearing; ATPE speaks to media amid school choice rally in Texas
- Scheduling changes made to State Board of Education and Coalition for Public Schools community meeting series
We’re 11 days away from the start of early voting for the March 1 primary election. Now is the time to research the candidates seeking legislative and SBOE seats in your area and share information with your friends and colleagues. The future of public education in Texas depends on high voter turnout among the education community — not only in November, but especially during the March primaries when many races will be decided.
Do you know where your candidates stand on the issues that matter to public education? From vouchers to TRS to testing, you’ll find a wealth of information about the candidates’ views right here on Teach the Vote. Simply click on 2016 Races button to search for candidates by district, last name, map, or using your address. Our candidate profiles include incumbents’ voting records, links to the candidates’ own web pages, and their responses to the ATPE Candidate Survey where available.
If you live in House District 120, you’ll have an additional chance to cast your vote this election season. Gov. Abbott has set May 7 as the election day for the special election to fill the seat recently vacated by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio). The early voting period for this special election will be held Apr. 23 through Mar. 3.
One more reminder: Have you taken the educator’s oath to vote for pro-public education candidates this year? Visit TexasEducatorsVote.com to learn more.
A congressional hearing entitled “Expanding Educational Opportunity Through School Choice” originally scheduled to take place during School Choice Week was held Wednesday in Washington, DC. Our federal relations team covered the hearing, which was postponed due to a weather system that shut down federal government buildings last week, and shared that the focus was on two main themes: (1) whether or not expanding school choice had a positive impact on low-income students, and (2) whether or not there is adequate accountability for existing school choice programs. The panel of invited testifiers consisted of three proponents of school choice and only one who testified to the risks associated with school choice programs. No other testimony was taken at the hearing.
We noted in a blog post last week that School Choice Week drew attention to some of the private school voucher and related proposals on the move around the country. The same post discusses that Texas is not immune to the push for private school vouchers and stresses the importance of educators voting in the upcoming election. As voucher proposals in Texas gain more steam, it is critical that we elect a Legislature that continues to stand in the way of those proposals ultimately passing. The upcoming primary election will determine the majority of the elected officials sent to Austin to serve in the next Texas Legislature. It is critical that voters send pro-public education candidates.
Related content: We reported last week that Texas voucher proponents gathered in front of the Texas Capitol last Friday to rally in support of school choice. ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter was interviewed by several media outlets covering the rally. Exter raised serious concerns about voucher programs and highlighted the benefits to keeping public money within the public school system. A sampling of those interviews includes this Time Warner Cable News story and this piece in the Austin American Statesman.
We previously reported on two separate community meeting series taking place across the state. The State Board of Education is hosting meetings to gather feedback on Texas’ testing and accountability systems, and the Coalition for Public Schools is hosting meetings to discuss the value of public education and how communities can get involved to support public schools. Both meeting series have been updated by the respective hosts. The changes are reflected on our original postings linked below.
The Coalition for Public Schools has moved the two meetings originally scheduled for Feb. 9 in Cleburne to Tuesday, February 23. The times and locations of the meetings remain the same. View the updated schedule here.
The State Board of Education community meetings originally scheduled to be held in Brownsville, Dallas/Forth Worth, and Kilgore have been updated to reflect various time, date and location changes. View the updated schedule here.