Category Archives: Election

What will a Biden presidency mean for education?

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On November 7, the Associated Press and numerous other news outlets called the 2020 Presidential Election for former Vice President Joe Biden. Since then, much speculation has surfaced on what a Biden presidency will mean for education, especially in light of a Congress that will likely be divided. Let’s take a look at what a Biden presidency may mean for education.


Biden’s education platform: Early childhood, teachers, equity, and CTE

The cornerstone of President-Elect Biden’s education platform during the 2020 election was a promise to triple Title I funding and require the increase to first be used for pre-K, teacher pay, and ensuring a robust curriculum across campuses in a district. Related to funding, Biden’s policy advisor Stef Feldman told the Education Writers Association (EWA) in a recent interview that Biden would ban for-profit charter schools from receiving federal dollars. “No one should be getting rich by taking advantage of our kids,” Feldman stated during the campaign.

Biden ran on a platform that included providing teachers with competitive wages and benefits, investing in teacher mentoring, leadership, and continuing education, and helping educators pay off their student loans. Additionally, Biden proposed doubling the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools, which is aimed at addressing student mental health while freeing up teachers to focus their time on teaching.

President-Elect Biden’s focus on equity included supporting grow-your-own educator preparation programs and working with historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority-serving institutions to diversify the teacher pipeline. Biden also proposed supporting schools with wraparound services and efforts to desegregate and diversify schools. The president-elect promised to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) over the next 10 years, citing that current funding levels only cover 14% of the extra costs for providing special education services rather than the law’s original intent of subsidizing 40%.

The Biden education platform heavily emphasized the concept of “investing in all children from birth,” which included providing high-quality universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and placing early childhood development experts in community health centers. Biden also proposed expanding home visiting so families can receive coaching from specialists on preventative health and prenatal practices.

Biden’s plan also covered career and technical education, namely making sure middle and high school students have access to meaningful vocational training by investing in this area. For a detailed overview of the Biden plan, see a breakdown of Feldman’s interview with EWA.

In terms of higher education, the Biden plan touts relieving student debt, making college affordable, eliminating controversial Title IX policies, reversing course on the previous administration’s treatment of DREAMERs, and renewing regulations on for-profit colleges. Biden has proposed making community college free and providing additional funding and incentives to help vulnerable students graduate. Additionally, Biden wants to double funding for Pell Grants.

Most items on the president-elect’s wish list will require the approval of Congress. These proposals will face an uncertain partisan makeup in the U.S. Senate, where two seats in Georgia remain undecided pending a runoff election in January.

Addressing education during a pandemic and school reopening

Over the summer, Biden rolled out a plan to reopen schools that focuses on getting the virus under control and providing enough funding and resources for schools to reopen safely. Biden supported the HEROES Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, which the Senate has not acted upon; and he said he would work with Congress to provide funding for ventilation, custodial and health services, and reducing class sizes.

Biden’s plan tasks the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with developing metrics such as the level of community spread and risk to guide schools through reopening. His plan aims to work against politics-driven reopening plans that have been based on ultimatums, such as withholding funding until schools return to in-person instruction.

President-Elect Biden wants to ensure high-quality learning during the pandemic by initiating a U.S. Department of Education effort to share best practices. He plans to create a White House initiative to work towards combating equity gaps exacerbated by the pandemic and launch a grant program to help fund efforts in this area.

When asked whether Biden would waive federal testing requirements due to the pandemic, Feldman didn’t promise anything. She said the answer “depends on how much progress we can make in supporting our schools and getting them back up and running.”

An educator as U.S. Secretary of Education

This week we saw the first names released as Biden’s cabinet picks. An announcement could be made soon regarding the important post of U.S. Secretary of Education. In her EWA interview back during the campaign, Feldman confirmed that Biden would nominate a public school educator to be his Education Secretary, but she did not clarify whether this meant a K-12 educator or one from higher education. The U.S. Senate must confirm the president’s cabinet nominees, and with two Georgia Senate races not set to be decided until January, it is too soon to know the partisan makeup of the upper chamber and how that might have an impact. According to this Education Week article, some potential picks could include national labor union leaders (who would have a tough, if not unsuccessful confirmation process in a Republican-led Senate), high-profile school district leaders, state education chiefs, or even U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), who was the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

Those in the higher education community argue that a community college-level expert would fit the bill and potentially alleviate problems with Senate confirmation. Dr. Jill Biden is a community college expert herself, having completed a dissertation in the subject and being a longtime community college professor. Other potential picks could be HBCU leaders, especially since Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is an HBCU graduate.

One thing we do know is that President-Elect Biden’s education transition team is being led by former public school teacher Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, a legend in the education policy and research world and a leader for equity in education. She is a professor at Stanford University, president of the Learning Policy Institute, and president of the California State Board of Education. Darling-Hammond also led President Obama’s education transition team in 2008.

Dr. Jill Biden: A veteran educator

Dr. Jill Biden (credit)

In his acceptance speech November 8, President-Elect Biden said, “Jill’s a mom — a military mom — and an educator. She has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does — it’s who she is. For America’s educators, this is a great day: You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill is going to make a great First Lady.” Biden’s reverence for his wife may mean she will have a meaningful influence on education policy during his tenure.

Dr. Biden has been an educator for over three decades. While earning her two master’s degrees, she taught English to adolescents with emotional disabilities at a psychiatric hospital. She also taught at the high school and community college levels. Biden has a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation focused on maximizing student retention in community colleges and her work as former Second Lady focused heavily on community colleges. This background may influence the president to pick a higher education educator for U.S. Secretary of Education.

Also of note, Dr. Biden has announced her intent to continue teaching while serving as First Lady. She reportedly will have the distinction of being the first woman to maintain outside employment while holding that role. Dr. Biden teaches courses at a community college in nearby Virginia.

Texas election roundup: The final tally

Texas has begun canvassing the votes for the 2020 general election, the process by which counties certify the official votes and open the window for any challenges or recounts. This is the tallying process that formalizes the election results. ATPE has posted a complete list of all the unofficial election results for the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education here on our blog.

A handful of close state House races could head to recounts. State Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) leads Republican challenger Justin Ray by 317 votes out of more than 74,000 cast. State Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) leads Republican challenger Justin Berry by 1,324 votes out of more than 134,000. Neither challenger has conceded defeat. Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers conceded to state Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) this week after falling 224 votes short out of more than 69,000. The threshold for requesting a recount is a winning margin of 10% or less of the total votes cast.

In the Texas House, state Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) continues to proceed as the presumptive future speaker after announcing last week that he had collected enough commitments to win that office. Members of the Texas House elect their speaker at the beginning of each new session, but speaker candidates campaign long beforehand trying to collect enough commitments to win the vote. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) voiced support for Phelan this week after Phelan was lambasted by Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West for his courting of Democratic votes. West moved to Texas from Florida and was elected the state GOP’s chairman in July.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has offered a $1 million reward to anyone who can present evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election leading to a criminal conviction. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November election, despite unsubstantiated claims made by President Donald Trump. While Democrats held onto a slimmer majority in the U.S. House, control of the U.S. Senate now rests on a pair of January runoff races for Georgia’s two seats. A successful Republican defense of those offices would protect the GOP’s two-seat advantage in the upper chamber, while a pair of Democratic upsets would result in a 50-50 partisan split next year that could be broken by the vice president.

Our partners in the Texas Educators Vote coalition tabulated the turnout numbers and found that the number of Texans registered to vote grew 12% between 2016 and 2020, adding nearly 1.9 million registered voters for a total of just under 17 million. Almost 2.3 million more voters turned out in 2020 than in 2016, an increase of 25% for a total of more than 11.2 million voters.

Voter turnout in Texas was 66% in 2020, up from 59% in 2016, which is a significant improvement. Believe it or not, this was the state’s highest turnout since 1992, which saw an all-time high turnout of 72%. Young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 led the nation in early voting, including more than 1.2 million of them in Texas. According to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the top issues motivating young voters were the coronavirus, racism, and climate change.

All of this is encouraging information that suggests we are making good progress toward creating a culture of voting in Texas. It is also an indicator of the work we must still do to engage the one-third of Texans who are registered to vote and either choose not to or were prevented from doing so. Legislators are well aware of the growing voter engagement we’re seeing in Texas, and they have already pre-filed dozens of bills for the upcoming session aimed at either easing or restricting access to the polls.

Full results of the 2020 general election in Texas

The results are in for the Texas House, Texas Senate, and State Board of Education (SBOE) races on the ballot in last week’s general election. ATPE compiled the list below based on data reported publicly by the Texas Secretary of State as of November 9, 2020. These results are still considered “unofficial” at this point, however, and it is still possible that there could be requests for recounts, especially in a couple of close races where one of the candidates has not yet conceded to the apparent winner. It’s also worth noting that in Texas, as in most other states, some ballots are still being counted, including mail-in ballots from military members stationed overseas that by law are allowed to arrive after Election Day.

Remember that not all Texas Senate or SBOE seats were on the ballot this year because those officeholders serve staggered four-year terms. Additionally, while this was an election year for every seat in the Texas House of Representatives, not every incumbent legislator faced an opponent in November. We have excluded uncontested races from our list. If you aren’t sure of your own district number, click here to find out who represents you.

Quick links to election results:

For a PDF of the results, please click here.

State Board of Education

SBOE 1 Georgina C. Pérez (D) 55.37%
SBOE 1 Jennifer Ivey (R) 44.63%

SBOE 5 Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D) 48.91%
SBOE 5 Lani Popp (R) 47.19%
SBOE 5 Stephanie Berlin (L) 3.90%

SBOE 6 Will Hickman (R) 49.73%
SBOE 6 Michelle Palmer (D) 47.40%
SBOE 6 Whitney Bilyeu (L) 2.87%

SBOE 8 Audrey Young (R) 73.50%
SBOE 8 Audra Rose Berry (L) 26.50%

SBOE 9 Keven Ellis (R) 74.04%
SBOE 9 Brenda Davis (D) 25.96%

SBOE 10 Tom Maynard (R) 50.89%
SBOE 10 Marsha Burnett-Webster (D) 45.82%
SBOE 10 Trip Seibold (L) 3.29%

SBOE 14 Sue Melton-Malone (R) 67.82%
SBOE 14 Greg Alvord (D) 32.18%

SBOE 15 Jay Johnson (R) 77.82%
SBOE 15 John Betancourt (D) 22.18%

Texas Senate

SD 1 Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) 75.31%
SD 1 Audrey Spanko (D) 24.69%

SD 4 Sen. Brandon Creighton (R) 67.48%
SD 4 Jay Stittleburg (D) 30.06%
SD 4 Cameron Brock (L) 2.46%

SD 6 Sen. Carol Alvarado (D) 84.04%
SD 6 Timothy Duffield (L) 15.96%

SD 11 Sen. Larry Taylor (R) 59.47%
SD 11 Susan Criss (D) 38.08%
SD 11 Jared Wissel (L) 2.45%

SD 12 Sen. Jane Nelson (R) 62.32%
SD 12 Shadi Zitoon (D) 37.68%

SD 13 Sen. Borris Miles (D) 80.51%
SD 13 Milinda Morris (R) 19.49%

SD 18 Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R) 65.80%
SD 18 Michael Antalan (D) 34.20%

SD 19 Sen. Pete Flores (R) 46.57%
SD 19 Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D) 49.86%
SD 19 Jo-Anne Valdivia (L) 3.57%

SD 20 Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D) 58.46%
SD 20 Judy Cutright (R) 41.54%

SD 21 Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D) 60.10%
SD 21 Frank Pomeroy (R) 39.90%

SD 22 Sen. Brian Birdwell (R) 68.52%
SD 22 Robert Vick (D) 31.48%

SD 24 Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R) 69.64%
SD 24 Clayton Tucker (D) 30.36%

SD 26 Sen. Jose Menéndez (D) 80.03%
SD 26 Julian Villarreal (G) 19.97%

SD 27 Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. (D) 64.82%
SD 27 Vanessa Tijerina (R) 35.18%

SD 29 Rep. César Blanco (D) 67.00%
SD 29 Bethany Hatch (R) 33.00%

Texas House of Representatives

HD 2 Bryan Slaton (R) 81.36%
HD 2 Bill Brannon (D) 18.64%

HD 3 Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. (R) 77.38%
HD 3 Martin Shupp (D) 22.62%

HD 4 Rep. Keith Bell (R) 79.11%
HD 4 Nicole Sprabary (L) 20.89%

HD 5 Rep. Cole Hefner (R) 79.98%

HD 5 LaWyanda Prince (D) 20.02%

HD 6 Rep. Matt Schaefer (R) 68.18%
HD 6 Julie Gobble (D) 31.82%

HD 8 Rep. Cody Harris (R) 85.92%
HD 8 Edwin Adams (L) 14.08%

HD 10 Jake Ellzey (R) 75.85%
HD 10 Matt Savino (L) 24.15%

HD 11 Rep. Travis Clardy (R) 75.74%
HD 11 Alec Johnson (D) 24.26%

HD 14 Rep. John Raney (R) 57.55%

HD 14 Janet Dudding (D) 42.45%

HD 15 Rep. Steve Toth (R) 66.49%
HD 15 Lorena McGill (D) 33.51%

HD 17 Rep. John Cyrier (R) 63.70%
HD 17 Madeline Eden (D) 36.30%

HD 20 Rep. Terry Wilson (R) 71.42%
HD 20 Jessica Tiedt (D) 28.58%

HD 22 Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) 68.26%
HD 22 Jacorion Randle (R) 31.74%

HD 23 Rep. Mayes Middleton (R) 60.25%
HD 23 Jeff Anotonelli (D) 39.75%

HD 24 Rep. Greg Bonnen (R) 69.97%
HD 24 Brian Rogers (D) 27.52%
HD 24 Dick Illyes (L) 2.51%

HD 25 Cody Vasut (R) 71.60%
HD 25 Patrick Henry (D) 28.40%

HD 26 Jacey Jetton (R) 51.81%
HD 26 Sarah DeMerchant (D) 48.19%

HD 27 Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) 67.80%
HD 27 Tom Virippan (R) 32.20%

HD 28 Rep. Gary Gates (R) 55.29%
HD 28 Eliz Markowitz (D) 44.71%

HD 29 Rep. Ed Thompson (R) 56.72%
HD 29 Travis Boldt (D) 43.28%

HD 31 Rep. Ryan Guillen (D) 58.42%
HD 31 Marian Knowlton (R) 41.58%

HD 32 Rep. Todd Hunter (R) 61.14%
HD 32 Eric Holquin (D) 38.86%

HD 33 Rep. Justin Holland (R) 64.83%
HD 33 Andy Rose (D) 35.17%

HD 34 Rep. Abel Herrero (D) 59.48%
HD 34 James Hernandez (R) 40.52%

HD 41 Rep. Bobby Guerra (D) 57.86%
HD 41 John R. Guerra (R) 42.14%

HD 44 Rep. John Kuempel (R) 67.43%
HD 44 Robert Bohmfalk (D) 29.48%
HD 44 Julian Mardock (L) 3.09%

HD 45 Rep. Erin Zwiener (D) 50.54%
HD 45 Carrie Isaac (R) 49.46%

HD 47 Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D) 49.27%
HD 47 Justin Berry (R) 48.29%
HD 47 Michael Clark (L) 2.44%
** As of Nov. 9, Justin Berry has not conceded to Rep. Vikki Goodwin.

HD 48 Rep. Donna Howard (D) 70.09%
HD 48 Bill Strieber (R) 29.91%

HD 49 Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D) 78.86%
HD 49 Charles A. Meyer (R) 17.96%
HD 49 Kenneth Moore (L) 3.19%

HD 50 Rep. Celia Israel (D) 68.78%
HD 50 Larry Delarose (R) 31.22%

HD 51 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D) 82.67%
HD 51 Robert Reynolds (R) 17.33%

HD 52 Rep. James Talarico (D) 51.44%
HD 52 Lucio Valdez (R) 48.56%

HD 53 Rep. Andrew Murr (R) 78.14%
HD 53 Joe Herrera (D) 21.86%

HD 54 Rep. Brad Buckley (R) 53.51%
HD 54 Keke Williams (D) 46.49%

HD 56 Rep. Doc Anderson (R) 67.32%

HD 56 Katherine Turner-Pearson (D) 32.68%

HD 57 Rep. Trent Ashby (R) 79.46%
HD 57 Jason Rogers (D) 20.54%

HD 58 Rep. DeWayne Burns (R) 79.05%
HD 58 Cindy Rocha (D) 20.95%

HD 61 Rep. Phil King (R) 83.04%
HD 61 Chris Cox (D) 14.05%
HD 61 J.K. Stephenson (L) 2.90%

HD 62 Rep. Reggie Smith (R) 78.77%
HD 62 Gary Thomas (D) 21.23%

HD 63 Rep. Tan Parker (R) 67.45%
HD 63 Leslie Peeler (D) 32.55%

HD 64 Rep. Lynn Stucky (R) 54.92%
HD 64 Angela Brewer (D) 45.08%

HD 65 Rep. Michelle Beckley (D) 51.50%
HD 65 Kronda Thimesch (R) 48.50%

HD 66 Rep. Matt Shaheen (R) 49.68%
HD 66 Sharon Hirsch (D) 48.47%
HD 66 Shawn Jones (L) 1.86%

HD 67 Rep. Jeff Leach (R) 51.80%
HD 67 Lorenzo Sanchez (D) 48.20%

HD 68 Rep. Drew Springer (R) 85.47%
HD 68 Patsy Ledbetter (D) 14.53%

HD 70 Rep. Scott Sanford (R) 61.95%
HD 70 Angela Bado (D) 38.05%

HD 71 Rep. Stan Lambert (R) 78.90%
HD 71 Sam Hatton (D) 21.10%

HD 73 Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R) 74.98%
HD 73 Stephanie Phillips (D) 25.02%

HD 74 Eddie Morales Jr. (D) 54.10%
HD 74 Ruben Falcon (R) 45.90%

HD 78 Rep. Joe Moody (D) 61.42%
HD 78 Jeff Lane (R) 38.58%

HD 83 Rep. Dustin Burrows (R) 79.30%
HD 83 Addy Perry-Franks (D) 20.70%

HD 84 Rep. John Frullo (R) 61.31%
HD 84 John Gibson (D) 38.69%

HD 85 Rep. Phil Stephenson (R) 56.41%

HD 85 Joey Cardenas III (D) 41.19%
HD 85 Michael Miller (L) 2.41%

HD 89 Rep. Candy Noble (R) 59.11%
HD 89 Ray Ash (D) 38.38%
HD 89 Ed Kless (L) 2.52%

HD 90 Rep. Ramon Romero Jr. (D) 72.37%
HD 90 Elva Camacho (R) 27.63%

HD 91 Rep. Stephanie Klick (R) 63.97%

HD 91 Jeromey Sims (D) 36.03%

HD 92 Jeff Cason (R) 50.94%
HD 92 Jeff Whitfield (D) 47.13%
HD 92 Brody Mulligan (G) 1.94%

HD 93 Rep. Matt Krause (R) 54.58%
HD 93 Lydia Bean (D) 45.42%

HD 94 Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) 51.00%
HD 94 Alisa Simmons (D) 45.84%
HD 94 Jessica Pallett (L) 3.16%

HD 96 David Cook (R) 51.20%
HD 96 Joe Drago (D) 46.11%
HD 96 Nelson Range (L) 2.70%

HD 97 Rep. Craig Goldman (R) 52.62%
HD 97 Elizabeth Beck (D) 45.11%
HD 97 Rod Wingo (L) 2.26%

HD 98 Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R) 68.00%
HD 98 Debra Edmondson (D) 32.00%

HD 102 Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D) 53.91%
HD 102 Linda Koop (R) 46.09%

HD 103 Rep. Rafael Anchia (D) 74.56%
HD 103 Jerry Fortenberry (R) 25.44%

HD 105 Rep. Terry Meza (D) 54.95%
HD 105 Gerson Hernandez (R) 42.04%
HD 105 Bret Bolton (L) 3.00%

HD 106 Rep. Jared Patterson (R) 58.51%
HD 106 Jennifer Skidonenko (D) 41.49%

HD 107 Rep. Victoria Neave (D) 56.50%
HD 107 Samuel Smith (R) 43.50%

HD 108 Rep. Morgan Meyer (R) 49.65%
HD 108 Joanna Cattanach (D) 48.03%
HD 108 Ed Rankin (L) 2.31%

HD 109 Rep. Carl Sherman Sr. (D) 83.28%
HD 109 Eugene Allen (R) 16.72%

HD 112 Rep. Angie Chen Button (R) 48.92%
HD 112 Brandy Chambers (D) 48.59%
HD 112 Shane Newsom (L) 2.49%
*Brandy Chambers conceded to Rep. Angie Chen Button on Nov. 11.

HD 113 Rep. Rhetta Bowers (D) 51.77%
HD 113 Will Douglas (R) 48.23%

HD 114 Rep. John Turner (D) 53.62%
HD 114 Luisa Del Rosal (R) 46.38%

HD 115 Rep. Julie Johnson (D) 56.90%
HD 115 Karyn Brownlee (R) 43.10%

HD 116 Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) 69.17%
HD 116 Robert Litoff (R) 30.83%

HD 117 Rep. Philip Cortez (D) 54.90%
HD 117 Carlos Antonio Raymond (R) 41.28%
HD 117 Tony Quinones (L) 3.82%

HD 118 Rep. Leo Pacheco (D) 56.76%
HD 118 Adam Salyer (R) 39.94%
HD 118 Eric Velasquez (L) 3.30%

HD 119 Liz Campos (D) 61.81%
HD 119 George B. Garza (R) 34.63%
HD 119 Arthur Thomas IV (L) 2.21%
HD 119 Antonio Padron (G) 1.35%

HD 120 Rep. Barbara Gervin Hawkins (D) 65.92%
HD 120 Roland Payne (R) 30.90%
HD 120 Shawn Huckabay (L) 3.18%

HD 121 Rep. Steve Allison (R) 53.53%
HD 121 Celina Montoya (D) 46.47%

HD 122 Rep. Lyle Larson (R) 59.70%
HD 122 Claire Barnett (D) 40.30%

HD 125 Rep. Ray Lopez (D) 79.88%
HD 125 Tony Valdivia (L) 20.12%

HD 126 Rep. Sam Harless (R) 53.30%
HD 126 Natali Hurtado (D) 46.70%

HD 127 Rep. Dan Huberty (R) 71.13%
HD 127 Neko Antoniou (L) 28.87%

HD 128 Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) 68.40%
HD 128 Mary Williams (D) 31.60%

HD 129 Rep. Dennis Paul (R) 58.92%
HD 129 Kayla Alix (D) 41.08%

HD 130 Rep. Tom Oliverson (R) 68.99%
HD 130 Bryan Henry (D) 31.01%

HD 132 Rep. Gina Calanni (D) 48.09%
HD 132 Mike Schofield (R) 51.80%
HD 132 Titus Benton (W) 0.11%

HD 133 Rep. Jim Murphy (R) 57.12%
HD 133 Sandra Moore (D) 41.20%
HD 133 James Harren (L) 1.68%

HD 134 Rep. Sarah Davis (R) 47.70%
HD 134 Ann Johnson (D) 52.30%

HD 135 Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D) 49.08%
HD 135 Justin Ray (R) 48.65%
HD 135 Paul Bilyeu (L) 2.28%
** As of Nov. 9, Justin Ray has not conceded to Rep. Jon Rosenthal.

HD 136 Rep. John Bucy (D) 53.30%
HD 136 Mike Guevara (R) 43.09%
HD 136 Brian Elliott (L) 3.62%

HD 137 Rep. Gene Wu (D) 81.48%
HD 137 Lee Sharp (L) 18.52%

HD 138 Lacey Hull (R) 51.62%
HD 138 Akilah Bacy (D) 48.38%

HD 139 Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D) 85.88%
HD 139 Grizzle Trojacek (L) 14.12%

HD 142 Rep. Harold Dutton (D) 74.73%
HD 142 Jason Rowe (R) 25.27%

HD 144 Rep. Mary Ann Perez (D) 56.43%
HD 144 Tony Salas (R) 43.57%

HD 145 Rep. Christina Morales (D) 64.02%
HD 145 Martha Fierro (R) 33.72%
HD 145 Richard Howell (L) 2.27%

HD 146 Rep. Shawn Thierry (D) 87.03%
HD 146 J.J. Campbell (L) 12.97%

HD 148 Penny Shaw (D) 63.66%
HD 148 Luis LaRotta (R) 36.34%

HD 149 Rep. Hubert Vo (D) 59.41%
HD 149 Lily Truong (R) 40.59%

HD 150 Rep. Valoree Swanson (R) 58.11%
HD 150 Michael Walsh (D) 38.59%
HD 150 Jesse Herrera (L) 3.30%

From the Texas Tribune: A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled after Election Day

Harris County election workers process data cards that contain ballot results at NRG Arena in Houston. Credit: Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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A few battleground races in Texas are still not fully settled as the current runner-up holds off on conceding, waiting to see more votes get counted.

Here are contests where the candidate with fewer votes has not admitted defeat as of Monday morning:

  • State House District 112: Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers is losing to Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, by 224 votes out of 69,009 (0.32%)
  • State House District 135: Republican challenger Justin Ray is down against Rep. Jon Rosenthal, D-Houston, by 317 votes out of 74,504 (0.43%)
  • State House District 47: Republican challenger Justin Berry is behind Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, by 1,324 out of 134,408 (0.99%)
  • 24th Congressional District: Democrat Candace Valenzuela trails Republican Beth Van Duyne by 4,489 votes out of 340,933 (1.32%)

Rosenthal, Goodwin and Van Duyne have all declared victory, while the current No. 2 finishers across the four races have declined to concede.

“Votes are still being counted,” Chambers wrote Friday on Facebook. “Team Brandy wants every vote counted. We will not make any decisions until every single vote is counted.”

In Texas, Monday is the last day for counties to receive overseas and military mail-in ballots. Tuesday is the last day for counties to review provisional ballots so they can be sent to ballot boards for counting. Nov. 16 is the last day for ballot boards to count late-arriving mail-in and provisional ballots, and the next day is the canvass deadline.

A runner-up candidate is eligible to request a recount if the difference between the number of votes they received and the number of votes the No. 1 finisher received is less than 10% of the latter. (For instance, if the leading candidate gets 2,000 votes and second place gets 1,850 votes, the margin of 150 is less than 200, which is 10% of 2,000, so the second-place candidate can call for a recount.)

The deadline to request a recount is 5 p.m. the second day after the canvass. If the second day is on a weekend, the deadline rolls over to Monday.

All four races where there has not been a concession yet were hotly contested by both sides. Valenzuela and Van Duyne were competing to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, in what national Democrats saw as one of their best pickup opportunities in Texas. They aimed to flip 10 GOP-held seats here and have not notched any gains.

The three state House elections all factored in to the fight for the majority, which is remaining in Republican hands. Democrats were nine seats away from the majority before Tuesday, and they fell far short of it, picking up one seat and losing another.

In at least the 24th Congressional District, the No. 1 finisher, Van Duyne, has called on the current runner-up to accept defeat. Neither Decision Desk HQ, which is powering The Texas Tribune’s results, nor the Associated Press have called the race for Van Duyne.

“Once again, I will repeat, Beth Van Duyne will be the Congresswoman for Texas’ 24th District,” Van Duyne’s campaign manager, Donald Rickard, said in a statement Thursday. “Candace Valenzuela has no path whatsoever.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at


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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 6, 2020

It’s been a long week, but the election isn’t the only thing happening. Catch up with these news highlights from ATPE Governmental Relations:

ELECTION UPDATE: This week, we celebrated a long-awaited Election Day for the 2020 general election. Despite record turnout, Texas ended up seeing less of a “blue wave” than many polls had anticipated. Republicans maintained control of the Texas House and Senate, the State Board of Education and statewide offices on the ballot such as Texas Supreme Court seats.

While results are still up in the air nationally for the presidential race, we know more about what the election results mean here at home in Texas. Read this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins for a preliminary analysis of the election, including what the results mean for the election of a new House Speaker. ATPE will provide additional analysis of the election results in Texas once ballot counts are more complete.

ATPE is grateful to all who turned out to vote in this historic election!

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) made several updates to its Coronavirus Support and Guidance page this week. TEA’s public health guidance was updated to include instructions for when asymptomatic, test-positive individuals can return to school and a clarification that close contact can be 15 minutes over the course of the day rather than 15 consecutive minutes. This is a consequential change for teachers and students who are in intermittent close contact throughout the day.

TEA also updated its attendance and enrollment FAQs to allow districts to require a student to come back for in-person instruction (e.g., a remote student who is falling behind), following certain protocols. Additionally, as has been the case in TEA’s guidance on STAAR testing, students must be on-campus for STAAR testing. The agency has noted that the paper-testing window cannot be extended due to processing requirements. ATPE has been urging state and federal officials to waive testing requirements this year due to the pandemic.

ATPE also wrote a letter to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath this week asking the agency for more local help for schools that are struggling during the pandemic. Read more in in the next section.

Updates to the Texas Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard show that for the week ending October 25, the number of positive cases increased 10.8% among students and 7.7% among staff. We are not reporting on the data for the week ending in November 1 because the most recent week’s data has consistently been incomplete, typically showing a marked increase the following week as districts input new information. Positive test results are only included for students and staff who participate in on-campus instruction and activities. It is unclear whether these trends are reflective of upward trends in the state or an increase in students participating in on-campus instruction as the school year progresses.

Check out ATPE’s frequently updated COVID-19 FAQs and Resources for answers to common questions asked by educators. Find additional ATPE resources related to the pandemic on our professional learning portal, and don’t forget to visit Advocacy Central where ATPE members can contact their legislators and other state and federal officials to share concerns about the coronavirus response or other issues.

This week ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes wrote a letter to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to complain about the state’s recent handling of local COVID-19 issues. “As the pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life, educators are disappointed with what they perceive as a lack of leadership shown by state officials and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as school districts across the state grapple with very real challenges,” wrote Holmes.

The letter cites two examples of local challenges stemming from the pandemic that TEA has failed to adequately address. The first example is in El Paso, where soaring COVID-19 cases prompted local superintendents to ask the state for additional time for remote instruction. TEA released revised guidance in a Region 19 School Safe Zones plan that would allow El Paso school districts to have fewer students on their campuses. ATPE lauded the agency’s decision use objective, virus-related metrics at the local level in determining when it is safe to reopen campuses, which we have long recommended, but we also shared recommendations on making the Region 19 plan more effective and expanding it for statewide use. ATPE’s letter also criticized TEA for failing to enforce its own COVID-19 guidance when some school districts have refused to implement health and safety precautions or neglected to report COVID-19 case numbers on their campuses. TEA has declined to take any enforcement action, saying instead that local school boards should decide what to do in those cases.

Read more in this blog post from ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell, and read ATPE’s November 2 letter to Commissioner Morath here.

With the election now (mostly) in the rear-view mirror, more attention is turning toward the upcoming 2021 legislative session and the outlook for public education funding. With a Republican-controlled Texas Legislature, the fate of funding and education policy will rest in the same hands (albeit with some new members and a new Speaker of the House) as during the 2019 legislative session.

The last legislative session saw major school finance reforms and an increase in public education funding that enabled a pay raise for many Texas teachers. But with the state facing a deficit, many have wondered if lawmakers will allocate resources to preserve the gains made last session. ATPE State Treasurer Jayne Serna and ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter spoke with KXAN news this week about school funding and the anxiety many educators feel about their pay.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins also spoke to the media this week about the need for increased resources to help public schools deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mark spoke about the anticipated need for remediation of students as a result of learning losses during the time that the pandemic has disrupted the school environment. Extra help for struggling students will necessitate additional financial resources. Watch Mark’s Thursday interview with Fox 7 Austin here.

For more on the funding needs for public education, keep reading below.

The Legislative Budget Board (LBB) held joint hearings this week regarding legislative appropriations requests (LARs) that have been submitted recently by multiple state agencies, including the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Education Commissioner Mike Morath briefly outlined his agency’s LAR on Thursday, which he said seeks to maintain current funding levels with the exception of two new “exceptional” items aimed at addressing COVID-19 issues. The first exceptional item is meant to alleviate learning loss that has disproportionately impacted students from low-income backgrounds, through targeted teacher and student-focused interventions. The second exceptional item would restore the 5% budget cuts made to the Windham School District.

Officials with the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) also addressed the LBB at this week’s hearing. Executive Director Brian Guthrie testified that the TRS pension trust fund values decreased early in the pandemic, but they have since rebounded. TRS expects a 7.24% rate of return for this year. Guthrie also outlined his agency’s LAR, which includes requests for funding to hire additional TRS staff and open a regional office in El Paso.



Texas 2020 election recap: What we know so far

After one of the most unusual campaign seasons we’ve ever experienced, the 2020 election is finally (mostly) in the books! While we’re still awaiting official results in many races, a general picture of the new political landscape is beginning to take shape. It should be noted that some mail-in ballots, particularly those that were postmarked on Election Day and any votes cast by military members serving overseas, have yet to be counted. Some close results could still change once those outstanding ballots are processed.

Republicans look like they will hold onto their majority in the Texas House of Representatives, which Democrats had hoped to capture by flipping at least nine competitive House seats. The current split is 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and the early returns showed Republicans narrowly fending off Democratic challengers in all but one race. State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) conceded to Democratic opponent Ann Johnson Tuesday night on Twitter. That race appears to be offset by Democratic state Rep. Gina Calanni’s (D-Katy) loss to Republican Mike Schofield, who held the seat before Calanni defeated him in 2018.

Control of the House means the next speaker would be drawn from among Republican ranks, and the politicking among GOP candidates for speaker continued through election night and into this morning. State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who chaired the House State Affairs Committee during the 2019 legislative session, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he had gathered the votes necessary to be elected speaker, although that election cannot take place until the Legislature meets in January.

The speaker will appoint committees and set the House agenda for the upcoming legislative session, beginning with important decisions about how to conduct the physical process of legislating and whether the House should conduct its business at the Texas Capitol or an alternate location in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Republican control of the House would also guarantee GOP control of the redistricting process, ensuring that the new voting maps will favor Republicans for the next 10 years.

In the Texas Senate, former state Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) was elected to succeed retiring state Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso). Democrats reclaimed a seat lost to Republican Pete Flores in a 2018 special election. Former state Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated Sen. Flores by a relatively narrow margin of 10,000 votes. The Democratic win shifts the split in the Texas Senate to 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats, which would give Democrats the ability to block controversial legislation under the current Senate’s rule requiring three-fifths of members present and voting to consent to hearing a bill on the floor. The Texas Senate had previously boasted a long history of requiring a supermajority to pass legislation, a rule that was intended to prevent the chamber from becoming a partisan theater. Republican Dan Patrick immediately lowered that threshold from two-thirds after his election as lieutenant governor, and he has already announced his intention to lower the threshold to a simple majority should Democrats gain more seats.

Democrats appear on track to gain one seat on the 15-member State Board of Education (SBOE). Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau leads Republican Lani Popp in District 5, which was previously held by retiring Member Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio). Democrats had hoped to pick up two additional seats, which would have wrested the board majority from Republicans. Instead, the new board looks like it will be split between nine Republicans and six Democrats. The board will feature new members from both parties, including Republicans Audrey Young from East Texas and Jay Johnson from the panhandle, both of whom replaced retiring members. Over the past few years, the SBOE has become markedly less partisan and even at times a model of bipartisan productivity. We’re optimistic that the new class will continue along that path.

At the state level, Democrats’ hopes that Texas would step into the blue or purple column were dashed Tuesday night. Republican Donald Trump won 52% of the presidential vote in Texas, which is about the same share of Texas voters that he won in 2016. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by 10 percentage points, which was roughly double the margin that separated Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018.

Stay tuned to our blog here on Teach the Vote for more detailed election results as we obtain more finalized information.

Today Is the Day: Election 2020

November 3—Election Day—is finally here. Today is the last day to make your voice heard through your vote.

It is officially November 3, 2020—Election Day.

During early voting, millions of Texans flooded the polls in record numbers. If you are not one of those Texans who has already voted early or mailed or dropped off your ballot, today is your final opportunity to make your voice heard in the 2020 general election. Polls close at 7 p.m. local time. If you requested a mail-in ballot, be sure to drop it off at a polling place in person today to ensure your vote will be counted.

Voting may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. To make your time at the polls run as smooth as possible, check out these voter resources before you cast your vote. Make a plan and get out there!

  • Use to check your registration, find out what’s on your ballot, and look up your polling place.
  • Educate yourself about the candidates on your ballot. On ATPE’s nonpartisan voter education project, Teach the Vote, you can find current legislators’ voting records, candidate responses to ATPE’s candidate survey, and other election information.
  • Utilize for various resources, advice, and voting reminders before you head to the polls.
  • Since you are not allowed to use your cell phone while voting, head to to build a personalized ballot that you can print out and take with you to the polls.
  • Find out what safety protocols are in place at polling places around the state. And read one ATPE lobbyist’s experience with early voting in the general election to get an idea of what to expect while voting during a pandemic.

Want to know where you can get post-election analysis, especially as it related to Texas public education? Make sure you’re following @TeachtheVote on Twitter for real-time updates and reading our advocacy blog here at for in-depth coverage from the ATPE lobbyists. Additionally, keep in mind that an increase in voting by mail in many areas may lead to longer wait times for election results than in previous elections.

As 2020 has shown, it is important to have our voices heard and our values as educators fought for on the local, state, and federal level. Be safe, stay healthy, and go vote!

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Oct. 30, 2020

From ATPE Governmental Relations, here are this week’s spooky news highlights in the education world:

ELECTION UPDATE: Early voting ends today, October 30, and Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. As our three-week early voting period comes to a close, Texas continues to break turnout records and is now considered a “toss-up” for which presidential candidate will win the Lone Star state. Read more election news in this week’s Texas election roundup blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

***IMPORTANT: If you requested a mail-in ballot, you may deposit your ballot at your county’s designated drop-off location by Election Day, November 3. With concerns about mail delays and the possibility of mailed ballots not being counted if they arrive too late, your best option is to drop off your ballot or vote in person. If you received a mail-in ballot but decide to vote in person, you must surrender your mail-in ballot at the polling place or risk being stuck with a provisional ballot that may not be counted.

Please continue to post your “I Voted” selfies on social media. Let us know why voting is important to you by sharing your own photo or video on social media using #WhyIVoteTXEd and tag @OfficialATPE and @Teach the Vote. Find additional voting tips here, and don’t forget to check out our candidate profiles here on Teach the Vote.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: After piloting rapid testing in several school systems for two weeks, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced this week that supplies and resources for COVID-19 testing will be expanded statewide to public and private school systems that opt in and meet certain requirements. To be eligible, the school system must provide in-person instruction to all students whose families request it within the next two weeks. The amount of supplies provided will depend on the COVID-19 conditions in the surrounding area and the population of the school system. Read more about the project here.

Since last week, updates to the Texas Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard show an increase in the number of positive cases reported for the week ending in October 18 for both students and staff. Previously, the data for the week ending in October 18 showed a decline, but new numbers from districts have since been added. The updated data show that between the weeks ending October 11 and October 18, the number of positive cases rose by 7.3% among students and 8.2% among staff. Positive test results are only included for students and staff who participate in on-campus instruction and activities. TEA has indicated that viral spread almost always occurs outside of the school.

Check out ATPE’s frequently updated COVID-19 FAQs and Resources for answers to common questions asked by educators. Here are some additional ATPE resources related to the pandemic:

  • Hear tips to manage pandemic anxiety in this ATPE-hosted webinar with therapist Kathryn Gates, available on demand.
  • Get answers to legal questions about COVID-19 and earn CPE by watching ATPE’s other webcasts on demand through our professional learning portal.
  • Use ATPE’s Advocacy Central website, exclusively for our members, to share your coronavirus-related concerns with state officials, including the governor and commissioner of education. Write your own message or customize one of the sample messages provided for you on the site.
  • Take a look at the public resources available in our Parent-Teacher Toolkit.

FEDERAL UPDATE: This week the two top members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a major bipartisan bill aimed at helping Americans save more for retirement. Unfortunately, the “Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020” authored by U.S. Congressmen Richard Neal (D–Mass.) and Kevin Brady (R –TX) contains no provision to address the Windfall Elimination Provision that reduces many public employees’ Social Security benefits. Read more about the new bill in this blog post from ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter.

ATPE and 19 other pro-public education organizations sent feedback to TEA recommending 37 changes to the charter school application process to increase fairness, rigor, and transparency. Among the top recommendations were to have charter applicants include a zip code where the charter plans to locate, and to limit the charter approval process to once every two years in order to sync up with the legislative session and state budget. Read more about the recommendations in this blog post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter.

Governor Greg Abbott and TEA released a new 2019-20 compensation report this week showing the pay increases many teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses received as a result of last session’s House Bill 3. Across the state, teachers with 0-5 years of experience received an average raise of $3,839, and teachers with more than 5 years of experience received an average raise of $5,215. Read more about the report in this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.

Happy Halloween from the ATPE lobby team! It’s been a scary year, and even though this year’s festivities may not be quite the same as in the past, we hope you can still enjoy a few spooky-themed classroom activities and seeing your students and colleagues in fun costumes. We wish you a not-so-scary weekend filled with candy, classic Halloween movies, and pleasant fall weather.

Texas election roundup: The final countdown

There are just five days left before Election Day, and it’s becoming clearer by the hour that every single vote will matter in this historic election.

According to the Texas Tribune, 8.6 million Texans have voted as of Wednesday. That’s 51% of registered voters, 5.4% of whom voted by mail. The number of Texans who have voted early in this election has already surpassed the 43.5% turnout over the two weeks of early voting in the 2016 election, and is approaching the total 2016 turnout of 59.4%.

The Cook Political Report this week moved Texas from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” in its analysis of likely Electoral College outcomes. The polls continue to show Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden neck-and-neck in Texas, with the RealClear Politics polling average giving Trump a 2.3% advantage — well within the margin of error. Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris is scheduled to make a campaign swing through Texas on Friday, visiting Houston, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley.

Campaigns continue to raise and spend prodigious amounts of cash in the final week before Election Day. Candidates vying for competitive seats in the Texas House of Representatives raised nearly $40 million over the past month. Republicans outraised Democrats $24 million to $15 million, mostly through a few massive contributions from individuals such as Gov. Greg Abbott and organizations such as Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Democratic organizations meanwhile poured roughly $20 million into the U.S. Senate race between MJ Hegar and Republican incumbent John Cornyn.

This week has been another busy one for the U.S. Supreme Court. The court’s conservative majority ruled Monday that mail-in ballots in the battleground state of Wisconsin could only be counted if they arrive by Election Day, which means that state will be forced to throw out any ballots that are delayed by the postal service, regardless of when they were placed in the mail.

Before conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, the court deadlocked 4-4 last week over a Republican lawsuit seeking to block the critical swing state of Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day. On Wednesday, the court declined to take up a new challenge filed by Republicans. As a result, Pennsylvania can count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day as long as they are received by Nov. 6. However the court’s conservative bloc signaled they would be open to throwing out ballots received after Election Day in Pennsylvania, regardless of when they are postmarked, if the election results are challenged in court.

The cases in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania don’t directly impact mail-in voting in Texas, but they do shed some light into how the highest court in the land may decide questions about mail-in ballots if the outcome of the election is disputed. This shouldn’t discourage anyone from voting, but it does highlight the fact that time is critically short for those planning to vote by mail.

Without the guarantee that mail-in ballots will be delivered in a timely manner, the safest option is to deposit mail-in ballots at your county’s designated drop-off location by November 3. If you have received a mail-in ballot and decide you would rather vote in person, you must take your ballot with you and surrender it at the polling location. Otherwise you will be forced to vote a provisional ballot and your vote may not be counted.

We’re in the final countdown now. The polls continue to narrow in Texas, which means that every single vote could make the difference. If you’ve already voted, make sure every eligible voter you know does so as well. If you haven’t voted yet, don’t wait. Lines could be long on Election Day. Early voting ends Friday, October 30. Research candidates here at Teach the Vote, make your voting plan, and go vote today!

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Oct. 23, 2020

Here are this week’s education news highlights from the ATPE Governmental Relations team:

The governor has decided to use federal coronavirus relief funds to create a new voucher program for students with disabilities. On Oct. 21, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced the Supplemental Special Education Services (SSES) program, which uses CARES Act money to fund accounts for parents of students with special needs to buy education-related goods and services. The $1,500 accounts are strikingly similar to “education savings account” voucher proposals for students with special needs previously rejected by the Texas legislature. Abbott will use $30 million in taxpayer dollars in his Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund for the program.

ATPE swiftly expressed concerns over the SSES program. ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes said, “ATPE is extremely disappointed the governor has made the unilateral decision to spend our state’s GEER funds in such a manner. Not only does this action ignore the Legislature’s clear opposition to vouchers, but also it denies public schools access to this $30 million allocation. Public schools are better positioned to equitably and efficiently provide for the needs of all students with disabilities.” Read ATPE’s full press statement here and ATPE’s blog post on the development here.

ELECTION UPDATE: There is one more week of early voting in Texas, through Oct. 30. Already, Texans have set a record for voter turnout. Election Day is just 11 days away on Nov. 3. This week the Texas Supreme Court ruled against the Texas GOP in a lawsuit, deciding Harris County can continue using drive-thru voting locations. Read other election news, including polls and candidate fundraising analyses, in this week’s Texas election roundup blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

We celebrated Educator Voting Day Monday and enjoyed seeing the many educators who posted their “I Voted” selfies on social media. Let us know why voting is important to you by sharing your own photo or video on social media using #WhyIVoteTXEd and tag @OfficialATPE and @Teach the Vote. Find additional voting tips here, and don’t forget to check out our candidate profiles here on Teach the Vote.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Texas Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard shows an increase in the number of positive cases reported last week for both students and staff. Districts update their submissions as they are informed of positive test results, causing data delays. The updated data show that between the weeks ending in Oct. 4 and Oct. 11, the number of positive cases rose by 31.7% among students and 37.7% among staff. Positive test results are only included for students and staff who participate in on-campus instruction and activities.

As parts of the state deal with alarmingly high case counts and hospitalization rates due to COVID-19, some school districts are asking state officials for additional flexibility on when they must resume in-person instruction. ATPE has recommended and continues to emphasize the importance of using objective health-related criteria to guide local decisions on reopening school facilities rather than a one-size-fits-all approach or arbitrary timelines. Weighing the input of school employees and parents of students is also essential in the decision-making process.

As reported this week by the Texas Tribune, some Texas teachers been asked to return to school even though they had a previously approved accommodation. Find information related to this situation and more on ATPE’s COVID-19 FAQs and Resources. Here are additional ATPE resources:

  • Learn how to manage pandemic anxiety in this ATPE-hosted webinar by therapist Kathryn Gates.
  • Get answers to legal questions about COVID-19 and earn CPE by watching ATPE’s webcasts on our professional learning portal.
  • Use ATPE’s Advocacy Central website, exclusively for our members, to share your coronavirus-related concerns with state officials, including the governor and commissioner of education.
  • Check out our Parent-Teacher Toolkit, featuring a video on helping kids thrive in today’s world.
  • See the pandemic and ATPE’s response evolve through our interactive timeline.

When the coronavirus forced schools to close their doors this spring, state and federal officials wisely called off plans for the administration of standardized tests and school accountability ratings tied to test results. ATPE has been lobbying for a waiver of testing and accountability requirements for the 2020-21 school year. The ATPE House of Delegates adopted a resolution in July calling for STAAR and TELPAS testing to be suspended due to educational disruptions caused by COVID-19. This week, school board members in the Austin-area Eanes ISD passed a resolution of their own calling for Gov. Abbott and TEA to suspend the STAAR this year. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter spoke to CBS Austin Thursday about the difficulty of administering standardized tests in a non-standardized environment. ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins also spoke today to KXAN News about the growing calls for a testing waiver.