Tag Archives: principals

Guest Post: Learn about Republican party precinct conventions

Party Precinct Conventions:
How educators can influence Texas politics from the grassroots up – it’s easier than you think!

By Mark Terry
March 2018

As an educator, you’ve done your civic duty; you have voted in the primary election and made your voice heard. And, you are to be applauded for exercising your right to vote, as a citizen and an educator! We are all hoping that our ‘teacher voices’ will be heard. If all 700,000 teachers across Texas vote…in a primary that usually has less than 2 million voters, we will definitely be heard. But, would you like to change the course of politics in a way that is lasting and takes far fewer dedicated educators? It can happen!

Yes! You can dramatically change the way both political parties view public education. Imagine: You can set the party platforms, you can help select public education friendly candidates, and you can play an active role in the leadership of your precinct-county-state party leadership! And, it only takes the amount of time you want to commit.

Let’s talk grassroots influence starting with the basics.

Mark Terry | TEPSA Deputy Executive Director

Click here to see Mark’s video about precinct conventions.

When you vote, you vote in your precinct; it’s kind of like your neighborhood. Each legislator’s district is made up of many smaller precincts, and House member districts are smaller than Senate member districts. For example, my precinct is 3035 within my Texas House District 98 and Senate District 12. Each precinct has a precinct chair. The chair is responsible for helping candidates of their choice to win election (more on that later) and for the Republican party, holding a “precinct convention” immediately after the primary election. Wait…I know you just rolled your eyes, keep reading.

When I was first ‘elected’ to be the chair of Precinct 3035, I thought, “No way! I put in enough time as an educator and I do not want hundreds of people yelling at me.” Well, it doesn’t work that way. Your precinct convention is held 30 minutes after the polls close at your primary polling place. You, gather a dozen or so seats together in corner, and you hold your convention. My first convention had 11 people, and four of them had my last name. Four more were neighbors who were public school educators. And, the election judge has all the directions and forms you require for your convention! Your lesson plans are ready!

What did we do at the precinct convention? Well, first we elected delegates to the senate district convention. (Check out my video where I show maps for precincts, house districts, and senate districts.) We also reviewed the party platform (Republican in my case) and adopted it with any resolutions brought forth. Here’s where it gets fun! No one had any resolutions except one person…me! One resolution stated, “We resolve that the State of Texas shall NOT use any public funds for private education.” The second resolution I proposed said, “We resolve that the Republican Party shall support and adequately fund Texas’s system of public education.” Both were unanimously passed! Those resolutions and the names of the senate district convention delegates we elected that night next went to the Tarrant County Republican Party for review.

I bet you never knew there were resolutions of this sort presented to the Republican Party. Why didn’t anyone see these resolutions after our precinct approved them? It’s simple. When the resolutions went to our senate district convention, the party’s Resolution Committee didn’t give them a hearing. Remember, you are fighting those who run the party. So, I made a combined resolution from the floor during our senate district convention. Even though I was told I wouldn’t get a second, I did…and the measure failed 57% – 43%. If there had been a few more delegates, the resolution would have gone to the Texas Republican Party’s state convention that summer.

This is where the conversation on education can change. Sounds like a bunch of rhetorical mish-mash to me, but elected officials look to the party platform for guidance. Delegates set the platform at the precinct level, at the county or senate district level, at the Texas political party level…and, at the national level. Those 11 propositions that you’ve seen on the Republican primary ballot this year…same thing. They are not binding, but your legislator looks to the results to justify his or her votes!

Do you see where this is going? How many educators do you think are in your precinct? I can tell you…there are plenty. More than 11? You bet! (And, you have access to the voter rolls, which you can compare to the school districts in your voter district.) What would happen if 25, 50, or even 75 educators showed up at each precinct convention and each passed the same resolutions? What if those same educators elected themselves as senate district convention delegates and then state convention delegates? You’d change the course of party politics in our state!

Is that all precinct chairs do? For many it is, but your sphere of influence just grew. For one, you’ll receive requests for donations from everyone running in your senate district. You’ll also be the first to see the nasty little rumors and comments about ‘the other candidates’ as folks from county commissioners, to family court judges and up, try to curry your favor. Most importantly, folks in your precinct look to you for who should receive their vote. Again, do you see where this is going? You can campaign for your chosen candidate, in my case a conservative Republican who supports public education. The candidate will give you all the information you need to make “block walks” around your neighborhood with friends to introduce your candidate (he or she will often go with you) and you can put together four or five educators to man an “educator phone bank” (remember the voter lists). The point is, you and a small group of your educator buddies have an inordinate impact on who is elected in your voting district.

One last thing, how do you think the Tea Party took over the Republican Party? Protests? Voting? Nope, it started at the precinct conventions. Who told me that? A Tea Party-elected legislator.

You can do this! We can do this! We must do this for the sake of children, teachers, and the soul of our state. If you want more information, or to be reassured you can actually make it happen, give me a shout at mark@tepsa.org or @tepsamark on Twitter.


Mary Terry with Giovanni Capriglione

Mark Terry with his legislator, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Mark Terry is a former school principal and the Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). He serves as a Republican party precinct chair within House District 98 and Senate District 12.

 

 

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Jan. 19, 2018

The snow and ice have melted, and here’s the latest education news from ATPE’s Governmental Relations team:


After federal officials criticized Texas for failing to meet the needs of students with disabilities, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released a draft of its plan to take corrective action to improve special education. Gov. Greg Abbott gave the state agency one week to develop the plan after findings of the federal investigation were announced last week. The proposed corrective actions by TEA include hiring additional staff to monitor the identification and evaluation of students who may need special education services and creating professional development opportunities and resources for educators.

Read more about TEA’s plans in this new blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.

 


On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion about certain get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts in public schools. The opinion was requested by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), who has complained about activities promoted by the Texas Educators Vote coalition, of which ATPE is a member, to increase voter turnout among school district employees and eligible students. The senator suggested in his opinion request and related press statements that school district resources, including school buses, were being used to promote  partisan activities in support or opposition of specific candidates. The attorney general wrote in his opinion that using school buses to transport school employees to the polls might run afoul of the Texas constitution, and he also noted that school districts should not use public funds to promote websites that support particular candidates.

ATPE has pointed out in media statements following the release of the opinion that all of the coalition’s GOTV initiatives and website resources, including ATPE’s own TeachtheVote.org website, have been nonpartisan. Read more about the opinion in this week’s blog post.

 


State grants are being made available to school districts to encourage high school students to enter the teaching field and to prepare future principals for certification. TEA has announced its launch of the “Grow Your Own” and “Principal Preparation” grant programs for the 2018-19 school year. The first of the two programs is a grant that can be used to interest high school students in the teaching profession and to support student teachers, paraprofessionals and classroom aides in their pursuit of certification. The latter grant program is for educators pursuing certification as a principal.

The application deadline for both grants is March 13, and potential applicants may learn more about the grant programs through webinars to be offered by TEA on Feb. 1. For additional information, check out the information on the TEA website here.

 


The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) announced today a grace period it is offering for retirees or dependents who recently left the TRS-Care program but would like to return. From now through Feb. 28, TRS will allow former participants to re-enroll in TRS-Care if they terminated coverage or dropped a dependent due to the 2018 plan changes.

For additional information on the announcement from TRS, check out today’s blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter.


 

Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: March 4, 2016

As we wind down Texas Public Schools Week, we’re also reflecting on Tuesday’s big elections. Check out our top news stories this week:

 


ThinkstockPhotos-523002181_IVotedOn Tuesday, March 1, we finally starting seeing the results of many months of campaigning for important offices in Texas. Turnout in the Republican and Democratic primaries was impressive, and we believe educators made the difference in many races by getting out the vote in great numbers and being informed voters in support of public education. Many races produced big wins for pro-public education candidates.

Read our blog post from Wednesday to learn more the outcomes in the state’s most critical races and which candidates are facing runoffs.

Now, we turn our attention to several runoffs that will be decided on May 24. If you live in a runoff district, please use our resources here on Teach the Vote to learn about the runoff candidates’ views on public education. Click on the 2016 Races button to view candidates’ voting records, their responses to the ATPE candidate survey, lists of their major endorsements, and more.

 


A key race for a seat on the State Board of Education has triggered a high-profile runoff. In SBOE District 9, where incumbent Thomas Ratliff (R) is not seeking re-election, two candidates will be battling it out on May 24 in a runoff that is of great interest to those in and outside the education community.

The front-runner in the Republican primary, Mary Lou Bruner, almost garnered enough votes to avoid a runoff, but now she faces a two-person race for the Republican nomination against second-place finisher Keven Ellis. The race has captured national media attention thanks to controversial statements made by Bruner. Many in the education community fear this runoff election that is already making headlines will put the board back into the position of being the center of unfavorable national attention and bogged down by ideological conflicts. The 15-member SBOE has authority to enact regulations pertaining to curriculum standards, the content of textbooks, student testing, graduation requirements, how the Permanent School Fund is invested and used, and more.

Read more about what’s at issue in the SBOE District 9 runoff in this piece from our friends at The Texas Tribune, which has been republished here on Teach the Vote.

 


We’ve been reporting for some time on the evolution of teacher evaluations in Texas. As ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann has reported for Teach the Vote, proposed commissioner’s rules to implement the new T-TESS system for teacher evaluations remain pending. Now, the Texas Education Agency has released its similar plan for implementing new principal evaluations through the system called T-PESS. Proposed commissioner’s rules for T-PESS are being published today, and a public comment period will run through April 4. Learn more about the proposed rules here on the TEA website.

In other news, TEA has also shared information this week with principals about the upcoming survey window for evaluating how well their new teachers were prepared to take on their roles. The annual survey is required to be completed by principals as part of the state’s accountability system for educator preparation programs (EPPs). Read TEA’s correspondence with survey details here.

 


Happy Texas Public Schools Week!

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Reminder: Evaluation resources available on Teach the Vote

Have you visited ATPE’s new Educator Evaluation Reform Resources page on Teach the Vote? There you’ll find links to materials from the Texas Education Agency about plans for new teacher and principal evaluations. We also provide links to research briefs, news articles, social media posts and a whole lot more on the topic of evaluation and appraisals. New material is added frequently, so don’t forget to bookmark our site, subscribe to receive Teach the Vote email updates or follow @TeachtheVote on Twitter.

Commissioner adopts new standards for principals

As we reported on Teach the Vote in late 2013, Commissioner of Education Michael Williams formally proposed new professional standards for teachers and principals. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) invited public comments on drafts of both sets of standards, which the agency intends to incorporate into new educator evaluation systems. The latest iteration of the proposed teacher standards have not yet been adopted, but this week the commissioner released his final version of the standards for principals.

The new principal standards go into effect June 8, 2014, and reflect some changes that were made in response to public comments. Those changes in wording include several instances in which principals will now be expected to demonstrate “commitment” rather than being expected to “take personal responsibility” for various outcomes as originally proposed by Commissioner Williams.

View the adopted principal standards here; phrases shown in red include language that was changed from the commissioner’s original draft. View TEA’s background information here.

Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on the teacher standards and all developments related to educator evaluation using our new Educator Evaluation Reform Resources.

New principal standards proposed by SBEC – UPDATED

UPDATE: There will be no vote on principal standards at this month’s meeting of the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). New draft standards for principals will undergo further revision with input from invited stakeholders this month before being adopted. Also, rather than being adopted as SBEC rules, the standards will be proposed as Commissioner’s rules in a new chapter of the Texas Administrative Code. The new set of Commissioner’s rules will eventually contain the standards for both principals and teachers. The new standards for teachers have not yet been drafted.

ORIGINAL POST: The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is considering a new set of standards for the certification of principals. If adopted, the new standards will replace existing ones in 19 TAC Rule §241.15 that the board has proposed for repeal. Interested stakeholders may submit comments on the proposed changes through the Texas Education Agency’s website. SBEC will take up the proposal at its upcoming Oct. 25 meeting. Read the text of the proposal here: 2013 Proposed Principal Standards.