Happy holidays! Here’s a look at ATPE’s final week in review for 2018:
- School finance commission votes on final recommendations
- Farewell to an esteemed member of our team
- Teach the Vote’s holiday hiatus
On Wednesday, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance concluded its work by finalizing its recommendations for the 86th Legislature. As ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins reported on our blog, the commission unanimously approved 30 recommendations, including the following:
- Adopting Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to cap local school district taxes in order to provide property tax relief
- Creating incentives for school districts to develop new evaluation systems that would be tied to differentiated pay for teachers based on student outcomes and experience
- Offering financial help for school districts to offer dual language programs
- Focusing early education resources to improve students’ reading levels by third grade
- Aiming to have 60 percent of graduating high school seniors prepared to enter the workforce, college, or the military without remedial education
Upon the final vote, ATPE immediately published a press release thanking the commissioners for their hard work and sharing additional input to be considered by lawmakers as they take up the issues reflected in the report. ATPE is urging legislators to address the imbalance between state and local funding and warning against making any hasty changes to the state’s teacher evaluation laws.
In the statement which was picked up by the Texas Tribune in its reporting, ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes expressed hope that lawmakers will recognize the need for more adequate funding of public schools.
“There can be no real school finance reform that fails to address adequacy,” said Shannon Holmes, executive director of the Association of Texas Public Educators, in a statement after Wednesday’s vote. “ATPE is disheartened that some members on the commission were unwilling to acknowledge the reality of the limitation of our state’s current funding levels out of fears of sparking litigation.”
Improving the school finance system is ATPE’s top priority for the legislative session that begins in January, along with related priorities for increasing teacher pay, shoring up the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) pension plan, and making healthcare more affordable for active and retired educators. ATPE’s lobby team looks forward to working with lawmakers on these issues and will provide updates here on the Teach the Vote blog as bills move through the legislative process.
Today is the last day at work for ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann, who is leaving our team to take on a new career opportunity starting in January. We thank Kate for her years of service to our governmental relations department and wish her the best of luck in her new endeavor.
Our Teach the Vote bloggers will be taking a break until Jan. 7 as the ATPE state office will be closed during that time period. ATPE wishes you and your family a joyous and safe holiday season.