Tag Archives: David Dewhurst

Legislative Update: 84th Legislature kicks off, another special election headed to a runoff, NCLB rewrite unveiled

Yesterday was the opening day of the 84th Texas Legislature in Austin. After being sworn in, members of the House of Representatives participated in a rare recorded vote on the election of their House speaker. Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), who has served as speaker since 2009, was re-elected to that post by a vote of 127 to 19. Straus survived a challenge by Rep. Scott Turner (R-Frisco). In remarks to his colleagues following the vote, Straus emphasized the need for cooperation in the House in order to deal with challenges such as transportation and taxes. On the topic of public education, Straus notably said, “It’s important that we work with our educators and not against them.”

On the Senate side, former lieutenant governor David Dewhurst, who was defeated last year by incoming lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, was recognized for his years of service. Senators also elected Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) to serve as president pro tempore of the Senate. Hinojosa will preside over the Senate at times when Patrick is not available during the session.

If you added up the votes in the speaker’s race, you are aware that not all 150 House districts were represented on the floor yesterday. As recently reported on Teach the Vote, there are four vacancies in the House on account of pending special elections spurred by resignations. Elections were held earlier this month in Senate District 26, House District 17, and House District 123, with all three of those races headed to a runoff in the weeks to come. Another special election yesterday in House District 13 is similarly headed to a runoff between Carolyn Bilski, who earned 43.45 percent of the vote, and Leighton Schubert, who earned 32.79 percent. View profiles of all the candidates on Teach the Vote.

In Washington, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), is gearing up for a Jan. 21 hearing on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Last night Alexander released a discussion draft of his proposal for the rewrite. Watch for more details about the draft in a separate post this week, and stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates about the hearing.

Fact-checking group disputes Dan Patrick’s claim about education funding, cites ATPE

A national fact-checking group recently chided Sen. Dan Patrick, a candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor, for making false claims about having worked to restore public education funding in 2013. PolitiFact is a website run by news journalists who research the validity of claims made by candidates and elected officials. PolitiFact gauges the accuracy of claims using its “Truth-O-Meter” ratings and reserves the lowest rating of “Pants on Fire” for claims it deems to be “the most ridiculous falsehoods.”

In 2011, the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion in public education funds out of the state’s budget. Sen. Patrick was among those who voted for the cuts and opposed using money in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to offset them. With an improved financial outlook in 2013, legislators had an opportunity to restore some of the money that had been cut the previous session.

Last month, Sen. Patrick issued a written statement claiming that during the 2013 legislative session he had “led the charge to restore most of the education cuts” made in 2011. PolitiFact rated Patrick’s statement as a “Pants on Fire” claim, citing numerous credible sources, including an interview with ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson.

Contrary to Patrick’s own assertion, evidence showed that he ultimately voted against the final 2013 appropriations bill that increased public education funding by $3.4 billion. Additionally, he authored legislation to limit state appropriations and require any future state surplus funds to go toward property tax relief, rather than for education or other needs. Another Patrick proposal in 2013 was a constitutional amendment that would have exempted certain residences from property taxes, thereby reducing the amount of revenue generated for public education. As further proof that Patrick was not interested in finding more money for public schools, Patrick also filed “mandate relief” legislation in 2013 to make it easier for school districts to lay off employees, reduce teachers’ salaries, and hire fewer teachers by increasing class sizes.

Patrick made it abundantly clear both before and throughout the 2013 legislative session that his education priorities for that session were changing school accountability laws, including imposing an A-through-F grading system for schools; increasing the number of charter schools; expanding “school choice” through public and private school vouchers; changing the state’s graduation plans to emphasize workforce readiness; and expanding virtual learning options. ATPE is unaware of any instance in which restoring the funding for public schools that had been slashed in 2011 was mentioned as a legislative priority for Patrick, who served as Chair of the Senate Education Committee during the 2013 session. As Sanderson told the PolitiFact reporters, Patrick “never responded positively” to proposals to increase education funding last year.

Currently, Patrick is the Republican party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the upcoming November election, having defeated incumbent Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst in a primary election earlier this year. An email from the Dan Patrick campaign on Sept. 10 indicates that his education focus has not changed dramatically in the last year; the email identifies his education-related priorities as “providing more school choice”; “stopping Common Core,” the national curriculum standards that are already outlawed in Texas; “spending more efficiently”; and “expanding career and technology courses.” On the subject of education funding, Patrick adds in his campaign email, “We don’t need to throw more money at the problem; we need to use existing resources more efficiently.”

Senate receives more interim charges

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst released a final round of interim charges this week, notifying Senate committee members of additional topics they should review prior to the start of the 2015 legislative session. Among the latest round of interim charges, the following pertain to public education:

New Charges to the Senate Education Committee

  • SCHOOL CHOICE. Conduct a comprehensive review of school choice programs in other states and examine the impact of education tax credits and taxpayer savings grants on the state budget.
  • SENATE BILL 2. Monitor the implementation of SB 2, relating to certain charter schools.
  • HOUSE BILL 462. Monitor the implementation of HB 462, related to the prohibition on developing or adopting common core standards.
  • RIGHTS OF PARENTS. Review Chapter 26, Education Code (Parental Rights and Responsibilities) and determine if any statutory changes are necessary to strengthen the rights of parents.
  • PERFORMANCE STANDARDS. Review Chapter 8, Education Code (Regional Education Service Centers), specifically the purpose and the performance standards and indicators developed by the Commissioner.

New Charge to the Senate Jurisprudence Committee

  • FAILURE TO ATTEND SCHOOL. Study and make recommendations on the feasibility of removing failure to attend school (Section 25.094, Texas Education Code) as a Class C misdemeanor offense and determine the feasibility of adjudicating juvenile truancy as a civil offense.

2014 Primary runoffs conclude

After yesterday’s runoff elections, we now have a much better idea of what the makeup of the 2015 legislature is going to be. Approximately 90% of Texas’ political offices are determined in the primary election, meaning there are very few races that are competitive in the general election in November. While there were certainly some victories to celebrate in the runoff, public education is likely to face an uphill battle in the next meeting of the Texas Legislature in January.

In statewide runoff races, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) defeated incumbent Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Patrick will face Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) in the general election. Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) defeated State Representative Dan Branch in the Attorney General runoff and will face Sam Houston (D-Houston).

Below is a full recap of the legislative and State Board of Education (SBOE) election contests decided Tuesday:

Dallas area:

                Democratic Primary

● SBOE District 13: Erika Beltran defeated Andrea Hilburn

●House District 105: Susan Motley defeated Terry Meza

                Republican Primary

●Senate District 2: Bob Hall defeated incumbent Sen. Bob Deuell

●House District 66: Matt Shaheen defeated Glenn Callison

●House District 102: Linda Koop defeated incumbent Rep. Stefani Carter

●House District 108: Morgan Meyer defeated Chart Westcott

Ft. Worth area:

                Republican Primary

●SBOE District 11: Incumbent Patricia “Pat” Hardy defeated Eric Mahroum

●Senate District 10: Konni Burton defeated Mark Shelton

●House District 58: DeWayne Burns defeated Philip Eby


                Republican Primary

●House District 10: John Wray defeated T.J. Fabby

Houston area:

                Republican Primary

House District 129: Dennis Paul defeated Sheryl Berg

●House District 132: Mike Schofield defeated Ann Hodge

Conroe/The Woodlands (and parts of Chambers, Harris, and Jefferson Counties):

                Republican Primary

●House District 16: Will Metcalf defeated Ted Seago

South Central Texas:

                Republican Primary

House District 53: Andrew Murr defeated Rob Henneke

El Paso:

                Democratic Primary

●House District 76: Cesar Blanco defeated Norma Chavez


For more information on candidates and their views on public education visit Texas Parent PAC and the 2014 Races section of TeachtheVote.org.

Get to know the runoff candidates

Several important primary runoffs will be decided in late May. If you did not vote at all in the March 4 primary, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic party runoff. If you voted in a specific party’s primary during the March 4 election, then you can only vote in that same party’s runoff in May; you cannot switch parties for the runoff alone.

Before you vote, get to know the candidates who made it to a runoff by viewing their profiles on Teach the Vote.



House of Representatives

Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for more election information as the runoff election date approaches. We’ll soon be featuring profiles of the candidates for Texas Governor and Lieutenant Governor, where there is also a runoff on the Republican side between incumbent David Dewhurst and challenger Dan Patrick.

For a discussion of all of the statewide runoffs that will be on the May 27 ballot, visit the Texas Tribune.

ATPE state president comments on Dewhurst firearms proposal

ATPE State President Deann Lee is quoted in this morning’s San Antonio Express-News article on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s announcement Friday that he wants the state to pay to train school officials to carry concealed weapons. Here’s an excerpt of the story with Lee’s comments:

Deann Lee, state president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, is an educator with a handgun license and “I would not want to be one of the designees,” she said.

“I feel the margin of error and the incredible liability these ideas would place on a school district could be devastating,” Lee continued. “A tremendous amount of training would be needed before someone other than a law enforcement or military officer could make the decisions necessary in such a position of responsibility.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Dewhurst-pushing-teacher-gun-training-4187684.php#ixzz2Hmt6iSew

(If you’ve reached this page via Facebook or Twitter, cool! This is the “soft launch” of the new Teach the Vote blog, which we’ll be announcing to all ATPE members next week.)