Category Archives: SBOE

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 20, 2020

ATPE wishes every Teach the Vote reader a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Take a break from meal-planning to read this week’s education news highlights from ATPE Governmental Relations:

We reported last week that ATPE had again written to state officials urging a waiver of STAAR testing requirements this year. ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter spoke to Fox 7 Austin about the issue Monday. “We’ve already got a lot of trauma and pressure,” said Exter, referring to the difficulties the pandemic has caused this school year. This week, Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) organized a bipartisan group of Texas legislators in writing a similar letter to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to ask that STAAR be cancelled for 2020-21. Bernal noted STAAR tests, if administered, should be used for diagnostic purposes at most. Read more about the letter in this blog post by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell.

Rep. Gina Hinojosa

ATPE and Rep. Bernal aren’t alone. Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) also sent a letter with 791 signatures to Gov. Abbott, urging the state to request a federal testing waiver. The parent-led group Texans Advocating for Meaningful State Assessment (TAMSA) also sent a letter to Abbott this week, similarly asking the state to seek a federal waiver and requesting that the high stakes associated with the test be removed.

Not all members of the education community are on board with cancelling STAAR tests altogether, however. A group made up of 14 school superintendents, business leaders, and representatives from the groups Teach Plus and EducateTexas issued a letter to Commissioner Morath this week calling for this year’s STAAR tests to proceed. Citing learning losses caused by the pandemic, the group wrote, “We strongly believe that Texas as a state should keep the 2021 STAAR
administration assessment,” although the group believes “student, school and district accountability measures linked to testing should be suspended for this year.”

This week, ATPE released a report titled, “An Impossible Situation: Why Texas Educators Are Struggling to Serve Students During COVID-19—and Pathways State and District Leaders Can Follow to Correct the Course,” which analyzed three educator surveys conducted by ATPE over the course of the pandemic. The surveys show that educators are concerned with their health and safety, often feeling they are not a priority to state and district leaders. Educators are also experiencing mental health effects due to increased workloads and the stress of the pandemic. In its report, ATPE outlines actions the state could take the remediate the effects of the pandemic on educators and students, such as including educators in planning and providing resources to alleviate stresses associated with staffing and lack of cleaning supplies. Read more on the report in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier and explore our interactive site with the survey data here.

Concerns expressed by educators in response to ATPE’s surveys are also reflected in a new article by The Texas Tribune‘s education reporter Aliyya Swaby, republished here on our blog today. The article shares parents’ frustrations as their children struggle in remote learning environments and highlights the difficulties exacerbated by state officials’ slow and often changing guidance to educators and school district leaders this year.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: In a press conference held Thursday afternoon in Lubbock, Gov. Greg Abbott said there would be no further shutdowns in Texas, adding that he believes closing businesses and restaurants is not an effective method for curbing the spread of COVID-19. Instead, Abbott suggested that personal responsibility and self-regulation were important factors in keeping infections down.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) updated several documents on its Coronavirus Support and Guidance page this week, most notably its Attendance and Enrollment FAQ. Based on the changes, schools can now access a 14-day period of remote-only or hybrid instruction if the school determines that staff absences due to COVID-19 would make in-person instruction impractical. The simple application for the remote-only period is said to be “approved upon receipt.” As has been the case in prior guidance, TEA says students who do not have access to internet or devices and whose parents want them on-campus must be allowed to attend school in person.

Perhaps due to Halloween parties or just an increase in students on campus, the Texas Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard is showing a spike. For the week ending November 8, updates to the number of new weekly positive cases show a 48.0% increase among students and 38.7% increase among staff who participate in on-campus activities and instruction. Given that these values have gone up since last week’s incomplete data for the week ending in Nov. 8 was reported, the numbers for the week ending in Nov. 15 may be just as staggering after the dashboard’s next update post-Thanksgiving. (No new numbers will be reported next week on account of the holiday.)

Check out ATPE’s COVID-19 FAQs and Resources for answers to educators’ questions, and visit Advocacy Central (for ATPE members only) to share your pandemic-related input with legislators and other state and federal officials.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met for its last meeting of the year this week. On Wednesday, members heard from Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, who showed no signs of cancelling this year’s STAAR test. Morath did say the agency was considering changes to how the test interacts with the state’s A-F accountability system. Read more about the commissioner’s conversation with SBOE members in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins testifies before the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives, Nov. 19, 2020.

Also on Wednesday, the SBOE approved its legislative recommendations, including one to expand the board’s authority to approve or reject charter school expansion amendments. On Thursday, ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified in support of an ATPE-backed rule change that would eliminate the expiration of Legacy Master Teacher certificates. Read more about the SBOE’s Wednesday and Thursday meetings in this blog post by Wiggins.

The board on Friday gave its final approval for the Master Teacher fix, delivering a major win for Texas educators, and approved new curriculum standards for health, physical education, and science. The board also said goodbye to long-serving members Donna Bahorich, Barbara Cargill, Marty Rowley, and Ken Mercer. Read more about Friday’s meeting in this post by Wiggins.

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced that $420 million in federal CARES Act funds would be made available to school districts as a reimbursement for prior purchases of Wi-Fi hotspots and e-learning devices, such as laptops and tablets. Districts must apply for the funds by December 11 and will be reimbursed at a rate of 75%. ATPE issued a statement Wednesday calling the reimbursements a step in the right direction, but noting the need for additional relief. As districts only have three weeks to apply for the funds (one of which is a holiday week), ATPE also implored TEA to remove obstacles to completing the application.

The reimbursement program is one of the ways Texas officials have opted to spend the federal CARES Act money this year. Read more in this blog post by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell.

A newly filed bill to reform the state’s healthcare program for educators is raising eyebrows. Rep. Ken King (R-Hempill) pre-filed House Bill (HB) 430, which would shut down both the active and retiree healthcare plans that currently exist through TRS. In a letter to educators, King said he intends to file additional legislation to complement HB 430 in his efforts to improve educators’ retirement prospects in Texas. Read more about the proposal in this blog post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter.

SBOE wraps up November meeting with goodbyes

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met Friday, November 20, to conclude its week-long meeting with a final vote on revisions to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for health, physical education, and science.

Former SBOE chairs Donna Bahorich (left) and Barbara Cargill (right)

Before discussing the TEKS, the board said goodbye to former chairs Donna Bahorich (R-Houston) and Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands), as well as Members Marty Rowley (R-Amarillo) and Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio). All four members announced their intent to retire at the end of the current term and will be succeeded in January by winners of the November 2020 general election. ATPE thanks these outgoing members for their years of service.

On Wednesday, the board approved a list of its recommendations for legislation in the upcoming session of the 87th Texas Legislature. SBOE members also voted Friday to add a recommendation that their board be empowered to impose administrative penalties on publishers who fail to follow the instructional materials process.

Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence), who chairs the Committee on School Finance/Permanent School Fund (PSF) noted that Wednesday’s board vote to set the distribution rate for the next biennium to 4.18% marked a total two-year distribution of $3.34 billion, “the largest in the history of the fund.”

The SBOE also gave the final green light to a new administrative rule that will allow Legacy Master Teachers, including Legacy Master Reading Teachers, to retain their certificates without expiration. After receiving feedback from master reading teachers whose certificates were scheduled to expire as a result of last session’s House Bill 3, ATPE brought the issue to the attention of Texas Education Agency staff and state officials. This solution will ensure those certificates do not expire and Legacy Master Teachers will remain eligible to retain their current teaching assignments.

SBOE Update: Board seeks more authority over charter expansion, ATPE advances Master Teacher rule fix

The State Board of Education (SBOE) is meeting this week for the last time this calendar year. ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins has been attending the virtual meetings and reporting on them here on our ATPE advocacy blog. Here are the latest developments:

Wednesday highlights:

On Wednesday, November 18, the board began its day with a presentation by Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. Read more about the discussion between the board members and commissioner in this blog post from yesterday. Also on Wednesday, the board debated its legislative recommendations for 2021, and set the Permanent School Fund (PSF) distribution rate for the next two-year state budget.

The board held a preliminary vote to set a distribution rate of 4.18% from the PSF for the 2022-23 budget biennium, directing $1.17 billion per fiscal year and $3.34 billion for the biennium to fund public schools. Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence), who chairs the board’s Committee on School Finance/PSF, noted that the Legislature will ask the board to contribute as much as possible due to the financial strain on the state caused by the recession. In response to questions about why the board can’t contribute more than it does, Maynard explained that the nature of endowments is that they are limited in how much they can distribute while protecting the corpus and maintaining growth of the fund.

TEA staff updated the board on the results of the SBOE’s legislative recommendations for the previous session in 2019. Among the items included in the board’s recommendations last session were changes to PSF governance to address conflicts between the SBOE and the School Land Board (SLB), which manages the fund’s real estate assets and is housed within the General Land Office (GLO). The 86th Texas Legislature passed legislation in 2019 designed to mitigate those conflicts and requiring the two boards to meet together at least once a year.

SBOE Chair Keven Ellis presides over the November meeting.

The board then considered its legislative recommendations for the upcoming 2021 legislative session, beginning with readopting recommendations that had not been addressed in 2019. The recommendations comprise legislation the board would like to support.

The board approved a legislative recommendation introduced by Member Georgina Perez (D-El Paso) to expand the SBOE’s authority to approve or reject charter school expansion amendments. The board currently has veto authority over the approval of new charter chains, but no authority over the expansion to additional campuses once a charter chain is approved. The commissioner is the sole authority who decides whether charter chains can open additional campuses; the current commissioner has allowed charter chains, including those with failing accountability ratings, to expand exponentially. The SBOE did not approve a recommendation, however, calling for a moratorium on new charter chains.

Perez also proposed a recommendation on reducing the number of high-stakes tests to only those that are required under federal law, as well as removing A-F grades used in the state’s accountability system for schools. ATPE has advocated for removing harmful labels from the accountability system that oversimplify educational factors and only serve to stigmatize schools and communities. Unfortunately, the SBOE did not adopt this recommendation today.

The board also did not approve a number of recommendations Perez proposed that explicitly expressed support for protecting the health and safety of educators and students by granting local districts the flexibility to make determinations about educational delivery, as well as requiring that local educators and parents have meaningful input into reopening decisions.

Members then resumed discussion on curriculum standards (TEKS) up for final adoption at this month’s meeting. The board will vote on the revised TEKS for health, physical education, and science during their Friday meeting.

Thursday highlights:

The board divided into its three standing committees Thursday morning, with the School Initiatives, Instruction, and School Finance/PSF Committees holding separate hearings.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins testifies before the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins testified before the Committee on School Initiatives Thursday morning in support of a new administrative rule that will allow Legacy Master Teachers to retain their certificates without expiration. ATPE’s Governmental Relations team approached Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff in the summer of 2019 with concerns raised by Legacy Master Teachers whose certificates were scheduled to expire as a result of language in House Bill (HB) 3. ATPE worked with agency staff and other stakeholders to develop a solution that would allow Legacy Master Teachers, including Legacy Master Reading Teachers, to continue teaching in their current positions. The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) approved the final rule in October of 2020.

By law, all rules passed by SBEC must be reviewed by SBOE, which holds veto authority that is rarely executed. Wiggins thanked TEA staff, SBEC members, and House Public Education Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood) for their work to ensure that the expertise of Legacy Master Teachers remains in the classroom. After Wiggins’s testimony, the committee advanced the rule to the full board with a favorable recommendation. The rule will go into effect pending a favorable review by the full SBOE on Friday.

SBOE presses commissioner over STAAR

Commissioner Mike Morath testifies before the November 18, 2020 meeting of the SBOE.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath addressed the State Board of Education (SBOE) Wednesday morning at the board’s November meeting. The commissioner updates the board at each meeting on various Texas Education Agency (TEA) initiatives. Many SBOE members at Wednesday’s meeting voiced consternation over the planned administration of the STAAR this school year, as well as other concerns that echo what ATPE has been asking of Morath and other state officials.

Morath began his presentation this morning with a brief overview of the agency’s legislative appropriations request (LAR), which is a formal document each agency submits to the incoming legislature outlining its recommendations for the next two-year budget. The agency’s LAR includes $26.2 billion for the Foundation School Program (FSP), which directly funds public schools, as well as $164.6 million for the agency’s administration. Spending on Titles I-VI totals $2.2 billion, along with $2.5 billion for nutrition and $1.1 billion for special education.

According to Morath, the agency has already executed a request from state leaders for all agencies to cut their spending by 5% in response to the economic recession. This cut is already included in the agency’s LAR. The commissioner said the LAR includes one “exceptional item” requesting $10 million to attract and train effective and diverse educators and $10 million for targeted interventions and campus supports. Separate from state funding, Morath said the state had received roughly $2 billion in CARES Act funding, including $908 million in net new funding.

The commissioner also touted Schoology, which is learning management software (LMS) the state has purchased and made available to approximately 400 local education agencies (LEAs). The state has spent $64 million on Texas Home Learning, which is a virtual learning platform. Morath said 256 LEAs have registered to engage with THL content since June. Board Member Marisa Perez-Diaz (D-San Antonio) noted this is an engagement rate of only 24% of LEAs and suggested that CARES Act funding would be better utilized for more equitable, sustainable, and long-term supports that benefit all schools.

SBOE Member Barbara Cargill

Outgoing Member Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands) pointed out that many teachers are thinking about leaving the profession because of the overwhelming increase in workload resulting from the combination of virtual and in-person classroom responsibilities. “What encouragement can we give them?” asked Cargill. Morath responded that what teachers need most is time. The commissioner stated the vast majority of schools are using a concurrent model, which makes teachers conduct both virtual and in-person instruction and requires twice the prep work. The commissioner noted that the agency has shared alternative staffing models with districts that could reduce the workload demands on individual teachers. Increased workload demands have been cited frequently by educators, including in a new comprehensive ATPE survey report released today.

Several members asked the commissioner about waivers or adjustments to STAAR administration for the 2020-21 school year. Member Matt Robinson (R-Friendswood) directly asked the commissioner to scrap this year’s STAAR test. Morath indicated that the agency’s plan is to apply for waivers for certain participation requirements in spring and that TEA is considering adjustments to the A-F accountability system. Yet Morath seemed to imply that there are no plans to cancel the test, despite the growing backlash against the high-stakes test.

Member Perez-Diaz pointed out that there is no reliable data this year with which to evaluate student progress. Member Pam Little (R-Fairview) asked whether schools could be allowed to use the measure of academic progress (MAP) instead of STAAR for accountability purposes. The commissioner suggested that approach is complicated by lack of consistent protocols or benchmarks, but that it was under consideration.

Member Georgina Perez (D-El Paso) asked whether TEA was considering easing up on teacher evaluation requirements, pointing out the difficulty of evaluating remote learning under the current system. Echoing a response to ATPE when our association similarly asked for a moratorium on appraisal requirements, Morath told Perez today schools already have flexibility on evaluations, but he said the agency will explore whether additional flexibility is needed.

Members also pressed the commissioner over his claim that schools are “remarkably safe environments” with regard to COVID-19. Perez-Diaz asked whether contact tracing was being conducted on campuses that could back up the claims that there isn’t much spread in schools. The commissioner said the agency hasn’t found evidence of underreporting by districts, despite many reports to the contrary. The commissioner conceded that identifying the source of transmission has proven to be difficult due to the level of community spread, but he pointed to data about the spread of COVID-19 in schools in other countries to justify his claim.

Member Ruben Cortez (D-Brownsville) pointed out that the Rio Grande Valley is home to 4.7% of the state’s population, yet has experienced 18% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. Cortez shared reports that some 200 employees have tested positive for the virus in Hidalgo County schools and emphasized the importance of giving schools the flexibility to continue remote-only instruction while infections are spiking. Morath responded by suggesting that schools have existing flexibility.

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%

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.

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Sept. 11, 2020

Here is a look at this week’s education news from the ATPE Governmental Relations team:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) adapted its guidance on equitable services this week to reflect a recent U.S. District Court ruling vacating the U.S. Department of Education’s interim final rule that directs public school districts to spend an unprecedented amount of taxpayer dollars on private school students. The court ruling issued last Friday makes the department’s rule unenforceable nationwide, but Secretary Betsy DeVos still has time to appeal the decision.

TEA also updated several other sections of its COVID-19 Support and Guidance page, including new intern and emergency certification waiver information that continues the suspensions on face-to-face requirements for candidates completing their internships, clinical experiences, field-based experiences, and practicums. Also, be sure to check out the new Project Restore training on resilience that was posted this week.

ATPE State Treasurer Jayne Serna and ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier participated in an educators’ town hall on COVID-19 and teaching this week. The Wednesday night event was hosted by U.S. Congressional District 10 candidate and former teacher Mike Seigel. Serna was the opening speaker for the event, sharing the difficulties educators are facing this school year and highlighting the importance of voting to elect pro-public education candidates. Chevalier provided an overview of COVID-19-related federal funding issues facing educators and students, federal waivers, and the need for congressional oversight of the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Also this week, ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter spoke with The Texas TribuneThe Dallas Morning News, and KBMT’s 12 News Now about the current state of teaching, learning gaps, and how spending cuts prompted by COVID-19 could impact students.

As a reminder, ATPE offers educators a gamut of resources:

  • Find answers from our legal team to frequently asked questions on our COVID-19 FAQs and Resources page.
  • Earn CPE by watching informative webcasts on topics such as educator rights, leave options, disability accommodations, and school safety through ATPE’s professional learning portal.
  • Explore an interactive pandemic timeline.
  • Take our survey on parent-teacher collaboration.
  • ATPE members only: Use Advocacy Central to communicate with elected officials about your concerns.

ELECTION UPDATE: Don’t let the November 3 general election creep up on you. Election Day is less than eight weeks away and early voting starts in one month. This means other deadlines for registering to vote or requesting a ballot-by-mail are even sooner! Remember that if you have moved recently or changed your name, you need to update your voter registration. Here are important dates to add to your calendar:

  • September 19: If your vote-by-mail application is received by this day, you are guaranteed to receive your ballot at least 30 days before Election Day.
  • September 22: National Voter Registration Day
  • October 5: Deadline to register to vote
  • October 13: First day of early voting
  • October 19: Educator Voting Day
  • October 23: Last day that a vote-by-mail application can be received (not postmarked)
  • October 30: Last day of early voting
  • November 3: Election Day! Mail-in ballots also must be received by this date.

If you happen to live in Texas Senate District 30 and are a registered voter, you’ll be eligible to vote early starting Monday, Sept. 14, for the special election to replace Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper). Read more about the race in this previous blog post, and check out profiles of the SD 30 candidates here on Teach the Vote.

FEDERAL UPDATE: In addition to the above-mentioned court ruling against Secretary Betsy DeVos’s effort to send more public money to private schools, there was activity on Capitol Hill this week. U.S. Senate Republicans tried unsuccessfully to advance a new coronavirus aid package that included a $10 billion private school voucher provision. ATPE released a press statement opposing the voucher language in the Senate bill, which failed during a preliminary vote held in the Senate yesterday. Read more about the legislation and ATPE’s press statement in this blog post by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met this week to take up hefty agenda items including the revision of science, physical education, and health curriculum standards (TEKS). The revisions garnered hours of testimony from the public, as did the discussion of eight new charter applications before the board.

ATPE and other organizations urged the board to reject the new charters due to the increased costs the state would incur by granting the applications. SBOE Member Ruben Cortez asked Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, “Is now the time to be playing Shark Tank?” Read this week’s blog posts from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins to learn more about Morath’s defense of the charter applicants, the board’s Thursday split decisions to preliminarily approve just six of the proposed charters, and the ultimate veto of three charter operators during Friday’s full board meeting.

Per usual, the annual Texas Tribune Festival has an impressive education strand of events. This week, Texas Tribune education reporter Aliyya Swaby moderated a panel of Texas public school teachers, superintendents, and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. The teachers expressed how the pandemic impacted their interactions with students, the superintendents talked about budget and enrollment concerns, and Morath stuck to his usual admiration of data and the need to continue standardized testing. Read more in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.

The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus incorporated ATPE recommendations regarding COVID-19 and schools into a letter it sent to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath earlier this week. The letter was influenced by a task force of education stakeholders including ATPE. Among other requests, the senators’ letter urges Morath to seek a waiver of federal testing and accountability requirements for 2020-21. Read more in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

Did you know that high schools are legally required to offer students who will be age 18 by election day the opportunity to register to vote? In Texas, students may register to vote at 17 years 10 months. Students can print, fill out, and mail in an application obtained from or fill out a voter registration application online and have it mailed to them.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has partnered with to create the “Democracy Powered by (You)th” voter registration competition. By doing things like racking up voter registrations, students can win scholarships, school grants, and trophies. Pace High School in Brownsville, TX is currently in third place!

Today we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. On that day, some of our members were in the classroom as teachers, while others were still just students themselves. On this Patriot Day, we honor the lives lost that day and the heroic efforts by first responders, service members, and citizens who risked their lives that day and in the aftermath of the tragedy. We will never forget.

SBOE vetoes three proposed charter chains

The State Board of Education (SBOE) formally vetoed three applications to operate new charter school chains in Texas on Friday. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) had recommended eight new charter chains for approval at this week’s SBOE meeting.

The board has veto authority over new charter school operators. Members voted to veto Heritage Classical Academy in Houston and Rocketship Public Schools in Fort Worth. The board tentatively approved CLEAR Public Charter School in San Marcos at Thursday’s meeting, but reversed course and voted to formally veto the application Friday morning.

The board narrowly approved five of the eight charter chains recommended by TEA: Brillante Academy in McAllen, Doral Academy of Texas in Buda, Learn4Life Austin, Prelude Preparatory Charter School in San Antonio, and Royal Public Schools in San Antonio.

ATPE joined with numerous public education organizations this week in asking the board to veto all of the proposed new charter chains while Texas faces a $4.6 billion budget shortfall due to the economic recession driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the volatile oil and gas market. This echoes a request ATPE and public education organizations made earlier this year to the commissioner of education to place a moratorium on charter chain expansions, which do not have to be approved by the SBOE.

SBOE tentatively approves 6 new charter chains

The State Board of Education (SBOE) narrowly voted to give tentative approval to six of the eight new charter school chains the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has recommended for approval this year.

A sharply divided board advanced Brillante Academy in McAllen, CLEAR Public Charter School in San Marcos, Doral Academy of Texas in Buda, Learn4Life Austin, Prelude Preparatory Charter School in San Antonio, and Royal Public Schools in San Antonio by a preliminary vote Thursday evening.

Members voted to veto Heritage Classical Academy in Houston and Rocketship Public Schools in Fort Worth. The board will take a final vote on the charter applicants in Friday’s formal meeting.

ATPE joined multiple education organizations in asking the board to consider whether spending tax dollars on new charters is the right thing to do at this moment. The board has the authority to veto new charter applicants.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has warned Texas is facing a $4.58 billion shortfall heading into the next budget cycle due to the economic recession driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and volatile oil market. The eight charter chains up for approval at this week’s meeting are projected to cost the state an additional $12 million per year.

On Wednesday, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath downplayed the idea that $12 million a year is a significant sum, but $12 million could cover the salaries of more than 200 educators at risk of being laid off due to the economic recession caused by COVID-19.

Once initially approved, charter chains are able to expand exponentially without need for approval from the SBOE, or any other elected official. More than 90 expansion amendments have been filed this year which could cost the state an additional $90 million annually. TEA has already approved at least 62 expansion amendments so far this year.

Among the eight charter chains up for approval this week are operators based in New York, Florida, and California. These states would be the recipients of Texas taxpayers’ dollars if these charter chains are approved.

ATPE joined with other education organizations earlier this year in calling for a moratorium on charter expansions. The same rationale applies to ATPE’s recommendation that the board deny the eight charter applications at this time.

Morath pitches new charters to skeptical SBOE

The State Board of Education (SBOE) is meeting in person this week to tackle a packed scheduled that includes discussion of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards for science, physical education, and health. The board is also discussing whether to approve and spend state tax dollars on eight new charter school systems recommended by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The board spent Tuesday hearing from hundreds of people voicing their opinions about the TEKS up for discussion. After a 13-hour day of testimony, the board resumed business Wednesday with its regularly scheduled update from Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath.

Commissioner Morath began Wednesday with a status report on reading academies, which all kindergarten through third grade teachers must complete by the 2022-23 school year. There are 20,000 teachers in more than 500 cohorts currently participating in the academies through 38 authorized providers.

The commissioner focused the majority of his presentation on a preemptive defense of the eight new charter schools he is recommending the SBOE approve this week. The board holds veto authority over all new proposed charter organizations, but that veto does not apply to individual campuses or expansions once an initial charter organization is approved. A bipartisan collection of members sharply questioned Morath over charter policy and the numbers used in his sales pitch Wednesday.

In response to a question by Member Tom Maynard (R-Florence), the commissioner said the total number of charter schools has grown from 484 in 2017 to 553 in 2019. The commissioner downplayed the total cost of charter schools, which Member Matt Robinson (R-Friendswood) pointed out are completely funded by state dollars through the Foundation School Program (FSP). This makes charter schools significantly more expensive to the state than traditional independent school districts (ISD), which are funded by a combination of state, local, and other funds.

The eight new charters the commissioner is proposing are estimated to cost the state $12 million per year once they are operating at capacity. This does not include the additional cost once they expand to additional campuses. Charter schools have submitted more than 90 expansion applications to TEA this year alone, which could cost the state an additional $90 million per year. At least 62 have been approved so far.

Member Robinson also noted that Texas faces an $11 billion decline in state revenue as a result of the economic recession driven by COVID-19. This has placed unprecedented stress on the state budget, prompting state leaders to call for 5% across-the-board cuts at state agencies. Robinson pointed out that despite this fiscal crisis, Commissioner Morath has increased the number of new charter schools he is proposing to open at the state’s expense from five last year to eight this year.

Member Pat Hardy (R-Fort Worth) added that some of the charters currently up for approval are based in California and New York. Member Hardy asked the commissioner, “How do we talk to taxpayers about sending tax dollars out of state?” Morath replied that the economy is globally interconnected. Member Hardy also asked whether only the top-performing schools are approved for expansion, leading the commissioner to state that while D- and F-rated charters were allowed to expand in the past, he believes they are no longer being allowed to grow.

“Is this the right year to be playing Shark Tank?” asked Member Ruben Cortez (D-Brownsville), comparing the proposed spending of state dollars on additional charter school experiments to the well-known TV show where inventors of new products pitch their ideas to investors.

Many of the board members’ concerns about spending state dollars on new charter schools at a time when Texas school districts are needing additional resources to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mirror those of ATPE and other organizations. Back in April, ATPE joined a coalition of 18 organizations that wrote to Commissioner Morath asking for a moratorium on charter expansions this year.

During today’s discussion, Member Georgina Perez (D-El Paso) echoed previous concerns about the higher state cost of funding charter schools, which the commissioner’s presentation to the board omitted. Perez added, “There’s a lot of good information you could be sharing, but this just isn’t it.”

Member Pam Little (R-Fairview) raised the issue of charters schools sending students with disciplinary issues back to their local ISD, while money stays with the charter. Commissioner Morath disputed Little’s characterization of the process.

Finally, Member Lawrence Allen (D-Houston) asked the commissioner a separate series of questions relating to educators. Asked by Member Allen whether TEA is collecting data on teacher retention under the threat of returning to school during the pandemic, Morath answered that the agency will not have that info until next September or October of 2021. Asked about resignations outside of the no-fault window, Morath suggested there are “a variety of exceptions” that will be handled on a case-by-case basis through the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC).

Following the commissioner’s comments, the board turned its attention to the Permanent School Fund (PSF). The board approved a $300 million one-time payment to the Available School Fund (ASF) via the real estate special fund account (RESFA) in order to support districts and cover the state’s obligations under last year’s House Bill (HB) 3. The board also tentatively approved a 4.0% distribution rate to the ASF for the 2022-23 biennium.

Members then spent the remainder of the day debating changes to the TEKS that were up for discussion on Tuesday. Any unfinished business from Wednesday’s meeting will be taken up following a public hearing scheduled for Thursday morning over the new charter applicants. Stay tuned to ATPE’s Teach the Vote blog for updates on the board’s actions this week.