ATPE releases report on educator experiences during COVID-19

Texas Educators Find Themselves in an “Impossible Situation,” Worried about Health and Increasing Workloads—and Lacking Trust in State Officials’ Response

Educators find themselves in an “impossible situation” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the state of Texas and are increasingly dissatisfied with state and district leadership’s handling of the crisis.

On November 18, ATPE released a 14-page analysis of three educator-focused surveys designed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Texas public education. The 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,” breaks down the results of three surveys we conducted between May-October 2020.

View the ATPE survey data and analysis here.

Most respondents expressed that the health and safety needs of students, faculty, and staff are a top concern. The amount of mental stress and anxiety educators are experiencing in the return to school is at an all-time high. Respondents expressed a feeling that teachers “were an afterthought” in COVID-19 back-to-school planning at the state and district levels, and they said the implementation of safety protocols by their districts were, in their words, “inconsistent.” In addition, the responses showed that between May and October, educators began experiencing concerns about increasing workloads reflected in longer work hours and the need for extra planning time.

More than 75% of respondents were “unsatisfied” or “very unsatisfied” (41%) with state leadership’s handling of the crisis, with many criticizing the state’s insistence on tying in-person learning to school funding.

“Many respondents felt district and state-level COVID-19 policies weren’t designed with educators in mind,” said Andrea Chevalier, ATPE lobbyist and author of the report. “This leads to impractical and unreasonable job expectations and extreme stress. Educators are concerned with students’ overall well-being and success, of course, but they believe that in-person instruction must be safe, well-resourced, and effective.”

As the name of the report implies, however, the surveys also offer indications of pathways state and district leaders can take to increase the number of educators who feel safe on campus and ensure a more effective teaching and learning environment. Some positive responses to the surveys indicate that certain districts are, in fact, navigating the pandemic successfully largely due to clear, transparent communication that involves educators in the process.

Based on the results and analysis of the surveys, ATPE shares the following recommendations:

  1. Educators should be included in school districts’ COVID-19 planning.
  2. Districts should be transparent and consistent about COVID-19 policies and their enforcement across all school programs, including maintaining a confidential, trustworthy line of communication between employees and district leaders.
  3. Class sizes should be limited to enhance the effectiveness of physical distancing in mitigating the spread of the virus.
  4. The state should ensure districts have adequate cleaning supplies and PPE.
  5. The state should provide resources, such as funding for substitute teachers, custodial staff, and additional teachers, to ensure districts can accommodate increased staffing needs to relieve educators from extra duties, both during the pandemic and after when students have increased learning needs.
  6. Districts should ensure educators who need medical accommodations are being appropriately served under applicable federal law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  7. The state should not tie district funding to a requirement for in-person instruction and should instead allow districts to make the best decisions for their communities.
  8. Educators’ mental health must be prioritized through all policy decisions, including providing funding that affects staffing levels and the ability of districts to allow educators to focus on a reasonable workload.
  9. To reduce the risk of viral spread and alleviate fears of exposure, the state should reconsider current standardized testing requirements that will increase the number of students required to be on campus for testing days.

Find additional information and resources on ATPE’s COVID-19 FAQ and Resources page at

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A bill to eliminate TRS healthcare plans: Crazy genius or just plain crazy?

On Tuesday, November 10, Representative Ken King (R – Hemphill) pre-filed House Bill (HB) 430, a bill that aims to eliminate the healthcare plans currently administered by the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) for active and retired educators in Texas. Three days later, King released a letter addressed to “all school personnel both active and retired” that seeks to explain his vision related to HB 430.

Rep. Ken King

“As a legislator I cannot in good faith continue to put a cash band aid on a broken system,” writes King in his letter. The representative describes the TRS healthcare programs as losing members who are opting for better coverage, which results in a smaller risk pool. King contends that this fairly small change in the size of the TRS risk pool results in higher premiums for the remaining participants. However, past information provided by TRS  suggests that such fluctuations in the very large TRS risk pool are unlikely to have a dramatic impact on cost.

In his letter to the education community, Rep. King lays out the following four goals, or “broad strokes” as he puts it, that make up his plan to address active and retired teachers’ health insurance needs in the future as TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare are phased out:

  1. The Legislature would provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is “large enough” to allow retired educators who are age 65 or older to afford Medicare Part A and Part B.
  2. The Legislature would “create a runway for our 55-65 year-old participants to get to Medicare age.”
  3. The Legislature would allow active teachers to join the Employee Retirement System (ERS), which King says would increase the risk pool and lower premiums “dramatically.”
  4. The resulting lowered premiums would be considered “a teacher pay raise that is truly sustainable,” according to King.

Also in his letter, Rep. King asks stakeholders to “understand that HB 430 cannot, on its own, accomplish the plan above.” Taking a closer look at HB 430 as filed, that is certainly true. In fact, as it presently stands, HB 430 addresses none of the author’s stated goals.

First, HB 430 would close TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare to new participants. The bill would move Care participants off the plan as they reach age 65, which would result in most retirees being off the plan within five to seven years. Next, HB 430 would close Care and ActiveCare to any remaining participants after 10 years, and it would disperse the excess funds. In short, HB 430 would shut down both the active and retiree healthcare plans that currently exist through TRS, and at least for now, that is all the bill would do. In other words, the bill repeals, but does not replace anything.

What about Rep King’s four goals? He writes in his letter that he intends to file additional legislation that would work in concert with HB 430 to achieve those goals and his vision for reforming educator healthcare. As of our writing this post, these additional bills have not yet been filed.

As the 2021 legislative session approaches, ATPE will be monitoring and engaging in discussions about this bill and any other related legislation that is filed. We will be watching, in particular, to see if such legislation attempts to address the following challenges related to healthcare for Texas educators:

  • First, the Legislature needs to create a mechanism for providing automatic and ongoing COLAs as opposed to merely a one-time increase in retirees’ benefits.
  • A comprehensive plan must recognize that the need to provide healthcare for retirees who have not yet reached age 65 will persist indefinitely into the future — not merely over the course of the next decade.
  • Any plan to allow active educators to access the ERS health insurance plan would need to provide many more details, for example on its cost and viability.
  • Perhaps most importantly, an overhaul of the state’s system for providing healthcare to educators must include a plan for sustainable, long-term, formula-based funding. The funding plan should be written into statute, at a minimum, and preferably would trigger a constitutional amendment. Simply funding such a program through a budget rider would make it too susceptible to cuts from session to session.

Until his follow-up legislation is filed, the jury will remain out on whether Rep. King’s proposal to reform the state’s system of providing health insurance for over one million active and retired educators is crazy genius or just plain crazy. Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for additional information on this and other bills that may be considered in the upcoming legislative session.

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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Nov. 13, 2020

From COVID-19 to Social Security and everything in between, check out this week’s education news highlights from the ATPE Governmental Relations team on this Friday the 13th:

ATPE continues to lobby for a waiver of testing and accountability requirements this year because of the disruption caused by COVID-19. ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes wrote to Governor Greg Abbott this week to again urge relief from state testing laws. COVID-19 has caused mounting stress for educators and students, which is only amplified by standardized testing and the likely negative implications of unreliable testing data. “Despite the increasing backlash against testing, state officials thus far have offered the education community little hope for relief,” wrote Holmes, urging the governor to grant waivers and seek flexibility from federal officials. Read ATPE’s letter here plus additional detail in this blog post by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell.

In an interview with NBC Local 23, ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter argued that teachers should be able to focus on serving their students rather than testing, especially with heightened academic, social, and emotional needs stemming from the pandemic. Exter also stressed that teachers are best-equipped to assess their own students in a much more accurate and effective manner.

FEDERAL UPDATE: ATPE is urging educators to contact their members of Congress about a new retirement bill filed recently in Washington by U.S. Congressmen Richard Neal (D – Mass.) and Kevin Brady (R – TX). The association is asking the bill’s authors to amend their high-profile bill with language to repeal and replace the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces many public employees’ Social Security benefits. Both Brady and Neal have proposed a WEP fix in their previously filed bills, and ATPE is requesting the WEP language to be added onto their new legislation, the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2020, in order to give educators the relief they deserve.

ATPE members are encouraged to visit Advocacy Central to send a quick message to the Texas congressional delegation about this legislation and the need for WEP relief.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Texas Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard now shows that for the week ending November 1, the number of positive cases increased 4.5% among students and 5.4% among staff who participate in on-campus activities and instruction. More notably, however, the number of positive cases for the most recent week of data (ending November 8) appears to have risen a staggering 25.8% among students and 14.3% among staff. These numbers are alarming as data reported for the most recent week are usually incomplete and likely to increase with the next week’s update. It is unclear whether these trends are reflective of upward infection trends statewide or an increase in students participating in on-campus instruction as the school year progresses.

We reported here on Teach the Vote last week that ATPE sent a letter to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath sharing educators’ complaints about how the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has handled local issues arising from the pandemic. To date ATPE has not received any response to that letter. Last week we also reported on TEA’s clarification of its guidance allowing districts to require certain students to attend school in person. The topic has garnered much media attention. On Friday, November 6, ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins spoke with CBS Austin and stressed that the state should focus on investing in education and prioritizing relief from testing.

Check out ATPE’s frequently updated COVID-19 FAQs and Resources for answers to numerous questions asked by educators. Also, don’t forget to visit Advocacy Central (for ATPE members only) to share your coronavirus concerns with legislators and other state and federal officials.

This week, The Texas Tribune’s education reporter Aliyya Swaby moderated a panel discussion about rural education in Texas. Swaby sat down with Donna Hale, superintendent of Miami Independent School District, Georgina C. Pérez, member of the Texas State Board of Education, and state Rep. Gary VanDeaver to talk about broadband access, teacher retention, and maintaining education funding, among other topics. Learn more and view archived video of the panel presentation here.

ELECTION UPDATE: With the election 10 days in the past, we have unofficial final results in Texas and just a couple races that may head to recounts, according to the Texas Tribune. This week on Teach the Vote, ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins reported on Texas’ record-breaking turnout, the presumptive next Texas House Speaker, and other news. Read Mark’s Texas election roundup here, and see ATPE’s list of the full election results for Texas legislative and State Board of Education races here. Thank you to all who voted!

The Senate Education Committee met today to hear remote testimony from invited witnesses only on virtual schools, special education, COVID-19, and the implementation of two of the major education bills passed last session. Read more about the hearing, believed to be the last one the committee will hold before the 2021 legislative session begins in January, in this blog post today from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

Related: Monday marked the beginning of the pre-filing period for bills to be considered by the Legislature next session. As of today, 745 bills have already been pre-filed. Search, read, and follow bills that have been filed at Texas Legislature Online.

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Senate Education Committee discusses virtual schools, special education, and COVID-19

The Senate Education Committee met Friday, November 13, at the Texas Capitol to discuss an agenda including digital learning, special education, House Bill (HB) 3, and state assessments. Like the committee’s last interim hearing, senators met in person and sat separated by clear plexiglass dividers. The committee only accepted invited testimony, which was delivered virtually.

Most of Friday’s witnesses were school superintendents who testified about their various experiences with virtual learning. The brunt of the testimony was geared toward expanding virtual schools, which ATPE has long cautioned against. Research has consistently found that full-time virtual schools are a poor substitute for in-person instruction. ATPE submitted testimony to the committee warning that although educators have adapted to virtual learning for now in order to protect public health, it is unwise to expand full-time virtual schools on a permanent basis. ATPE recognizes that the pandemic has necessitated widespread virtual instruction this year in the short term, but it will be important in the long run for students to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is safe in order to minimize learning loss.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presented the committee with an update on the implementation of HB 3, the school finance bill legislators passed in 2019. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), HB 3 added $4.9 billion in state funds while decreasing local funding by $2.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2020, for a net increase in total funding of $2.7 billion.

Thus far, 26 school districts are part of the first cohort of the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA), which is the performance pay program established under HB 3. Through the September settle-up process, TEA reported distributing $40 million to districts on the behalf of 3,650 teachers participating in that program. A handful of superintendents testified regarding implementation of the program. The bill also established a Teacher Mentor Program Allotment (TMPA), which had 67 districts approved as of August to provide stipends for mentor teachers in the 2020-21 school year.

The agency is also charged with tracking the unintended consequences of HB 3. Morath said one item for consideration by lawmakers next session is a quirk in the funding formulas whereby a district with 700 or fewer students may paradoxically lose net funding when adding CTE students who should qualify for additional funding.

Josh Sanderson from the Equity Center urged the state to use any additional federal stimulus money to ensure districts receive their anticipated funding. Sanderson pointed out that districts need consistent, reliable funding and face additional unanticipated costs as a result of COVID-19, including an increased need for transportation services. ATPE’s testimony urged the state to fully fund the commitments made under HB 3, including protecting gains to school funding and educator compensation.

The committee also heard updates on the implementation of HB 3906, which made significant changes to STAAR implementation. Most notably, the bill required TEA to transition to fully electronic administration of the STAAR by the 2022-23 school year. The agency is scheduled to report on its progress toward this objective at next week’s State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting. Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) cautioned that online testing could disadvantage students who are less comfortable with technology or have learning disabilities. A number of school administrators asked the committee to extend the timeline for the transition. ATPE’s testimony recommended that the state waive STAAR administration for the 2020-21 school year.

COVID-19 was another topic discussed in the hearing. TEA touted its response to the pandemic, including its extension of funding flexibility for remote instruction, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to districts, and launching Operation Connectivity to provide technology and internet access to underserved areas. Morath suggested that determining how remote instruction will be funded in the long term will be a challenge for the legislature.

Morath also highlighted the challenge of tackling learning loss as a result of the disruption to the educational environment due to COVID-19. ATPE has consistently pointed out that this need for remediation should serve as a warning to those looking to expand full-time virtual schools outside of a pandemic setting. In written testimony, ATPE highlighted the resolutions ATPE members passed during the 2020 ATPE Summit urging the state to prioritize the health of educators and students.

Special education was the final topic of the day. TEA staff testified that the state has increased special education spending by 27% over the past four years. A 2016 investigation found that Texas had under-identified students who are eligible for special education services, and the U.S. Department of Education notified TEA in 2018 that it had violated federal law in doing so. According to TEA, special education enrollment went from 8.7 percent in the 2015-16 school year to 10.7% in the 2019-20 school year.

The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) testified that Texas must change the way special education services are funded so as to correspond to the costs of specific services provided. Disability Rights Texas noted that schools have lost contact with many students in special education over the course of the pandemic and echoed the need for special education funding reform.

Today’s hearing is expected to be the last for the Senate Education Committee before the legislative session begins January 12, 2021.

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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.

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ATPE again urges state officials to waive student testing requirements during COVID-19

ATPE sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott November 11 seeking relief for Texas public schools as they face rigid testing and accountability requirements while still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter from ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes reiterates requests ATPE made to state officials in July, specifically including a waiver of requirements for STAAR and TELPAS testing and related accountability laws.

Shannon Holmes

“A growing chorus of educators, parents, and elected officials have opposed standardized testing this year,” writes Holmes, citing concerns that the state-mandated tests create unnecessary added stress, take time away from instruction, and are unlikely to yield reliable data. “Despite the increasing backlash against testing, state officials thus far have offered the education community little hope for relief.”

The letter from ATPE notes the increase in educators’ workloads this year and the mental health effects of the pandemic on students. With Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath expressing his intent that testing continue this year in spite of the pandemic and that all students be required to take the tests in person, ATPE is concerned that test administration alone will contribute to health and safety risks already disrupting the educational environment. In addition, the letter highlights the numerous high-stakes decisions that are tied to standardized testing data, which may not be reliable under the circumstances surrounding this difficult school year.

Relief from standardized testing mandates is one of the needs most frequently expressed by ATPE members and was the subject of a resolution adopted by the ATPE House of Delegates in July. The association is also lobbying for a waiver of federal testing and accountability requirements similar to the flexibility granted during the 2019-20 school year.

Read the full letter from ATPE to Gov. Abbott here.

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From The Texas Tribune: A presentation on public education in rural Texas

This week The Texas Tribune is hosting a free, online symposium on “The Future of Rural Texas.” A panel presentation on Tuesday centered on the challenges facing public education in rural Texas and featured State Representative Gary Vandeaver (R – New Boston), SBOE Member Georgina Perez (D – Ysleta), and Miami ISD Superintendent Donna Hale. The discussion was moderated by Texas Tribune public education reporter Aliyya Swaby and included such topics as digital learning, school safety, the possibility of budget cuts, and what do about STAAR tests this year.

Click the link below to watch Tuesday’s panel presentation on public education, or visit the Tribune’s website for more information on the entire “The Future of Rural Texas” symposium. Here’s more about the presentation from The Texas Tribune:

Rural school districts face different challenges than their urban and suburban counterparts as they struggle to keep staff members, educate students virtually on spotty internet and ensure staff and teachers are safe in their buildings — all while dealing with financial struggles.

Donna Hale, superintendent of Miami Independent School District, Georgina C. Pérez, member of the Texas State Board of Education, and state Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, spoke with the Texas Tribune’s public education reporter, Aliyya Swaby, about how state leaders can do more to bolster public schools in rural regions, including continuing to fund them during an economic crisis.

They emphasized lack of broadband access as one of the main barriers to online learning. Perez, who served as a teacher and administrator for more than 10 years, said another challenge rural schools are facing is retaining great teachers.

The state budget is likely to be at the center of the upcoming legislative session, VanDeaver said. While he believes there will be budget cuts to education, “how we do that and do the least damage possible to our school districts, students and teachers is going to be the priority,” he said.

“Watch: Conversations on the future of rural Texas” was first published at by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

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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%

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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.

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

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.



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