Tag Archives: Save Texas Schools

Legislative Update: ESEA reauthorization news, idling voucher and salary bills, special election and rally reminders

Congress took a major step forward in the effort to reauthorize the long overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Yesterday, April 16, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) unanimously approved a bipartisan compromise bill called the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA). A total of 87 committee amendments were filed, with 29 of them adopted and incorporated into the bill. The ECAA must still pass the full Senate, which could happn as early as May. In the meantime, the rare 22-0 committee vote sends a strong signal to the U.S. House, where prior attempts to pass a reauthorization bill have faltered amid partisan disagreements. ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann will have a full analysis of the bill as amended that will be posted soon here on Teach the Vote.


A high-profile bill to create a massive private school voucher program in Texas has not yet been brought up for a vote on the Senate floor, despite sitting on the Senate Intent Calendar for several days now. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has identified the bill, Senate Bill (SB) 4, as a top education priority. SB 4 is being carried by Sen. Larry Taylor (R), who chairs the Senate Education Committee. The bill sets up a  “back door” voucher by using state funds to give a franchise tax credit to businesses that donate money to private, state-sanctioned “educational assistance organizations.” The 25 non-profit organizations pre-selected to act as those educational assistance organizations would then provide scholarships for eligible students to attend private or parochial schools.

SB 4 would cause local public school districts to lose revenue, and the costs of the state program would likely swell as existing private or home-schooled students avail themselves of the state-funded scholarships. ATPE members are strongly urged to contact their legislators – especially in the Senate – to express opposition to SB 4. Visit our Officeholders page to find out who represents you in the Senate, and click here to access additional information and talking points on ATPE’s opposition to SB 4.


ATPE members are also encouraged to keep contacting their state representatives and asking them to oppose HB 2543 and SB 893, two bills that would eliminate the state’s current minimum salary schedule for teachers. These bills remain pending in the Texas House, where opposition to them is growing. Read more about the bills here.

As always, you can keep up with major education bills moving through the 84th Legislature that relate to ATPE’s priorities by visiting our Issues page. The Issues page, which is updated each legislative day, contains background information on each legislative priority with a list of major bills and their current status. Be sure also to follow @TeachtheVote and our ATPE Lobby Team on Twitter, for additional reporting of all the education news from the state capitol.


The State Board of Education (SBOE) also met this week. Its work included approving two new math courses to satisfy high school graduation requirements, agreeing on new curriculum standards for Career and Technical Education courses, discussing high-school equivalency examinations, and adopting findings of an Ad Hoc Committee on the Long-Range Plan for Public Education. The ad hoc committee is being disbanded, and SBOE’s Committee on School Initiatives will take over long-range planning responsibility going forward. Read more on the Texas Education Agency’s website.


Vote imageEducators in San Antonio’s House District 124 are reminded of the importance to go vote in the special election runoff to select their new state representative. Today is the last day of early voting, and Tuesday, April 21, is runoff election day.

The candidates vying to replace Jose Menendez, who was recently elected to the Texas Senate in another special election, are Democrats Ina Minjarez and Delicia Herrera. View their candidate profiles to learn more about their backgrounds and positions on education issues here.


The Save Texas Schools rally is taking place tomorrow at the State Capitol from 10 a.m. to noon. Educators are encouraged to attend and show their support for public schools. Click here to learn more about the event.

Attend the Save Texas Schools rally tomorrow at the capitol

ATPE encourages members and public education supporters to attend the Save Texas Schools rally at the State Capitol on Saturday, April 18, from 10 a.m to noon.

STS April 18th Rally Poster

Save Texas Schools is a nonpartisan coalition of parents, students, educators, business leaders, community groups, and faith organizations advocating on behalf of public education. The coalition’s goals include urging the legislature to prioritize funding for public schools, limit standardized testing, and oppose privatization. Its partner organizations include all four of the state’s major teacher groups, PTA, TAMSA, and many more.

Tomorrow’s rally will feature guest speakers, student performances, and appearances by legislators. Visit www.savetxschools.org for additional information about bus transportation from various parts of the state, parking, and other last-minute details. Here are other ways to engage:

Legislative Update: From school finance to suicide prevention, a slew of bills set for hearings this week

The House Public Education Committee has moved up its usual meeting time to allow for more bills to be heard on a single day. Starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, April 14, the committee will consider 19 bills, including Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock’s (R-Killeen) school finance overhaul, HB 1759. Originally filed as a placeholder bill, Aycock revealed details of his school finance plan last week and will hear public testimony on the bill this week.

Other legislation on tomorrow’s agenda include bills by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) promoting the use of a Community Schools Model to turnaround struggling schools, along with a less favorable bill by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) calling for alternative management of certain low-performing schools through a statewide Opportunity School District. The Senate Education Committee already heard and took action on some of the same proposals last week, as we reported previously on our blog.

Also on the agenda for the House Public Education Committee tomorrow is HB 2186 by Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), a bill pertaining to suicide prevention training for certain school district employees. ATPE asked Rep. Cook to carry the bill on the request of one of our members, Coach Kevin Childers from the Fairfield Independent School District.

hb 2186 testimony infographic

Coach Childers lost his teenage son Jonathan to suicide in 2013 and plans to testify in support of HB 2186. The bill aims to modify existing law that requires certain educators and school district employees to be trained in recognizing possible warning signs for suicidal thoughts by students; HB 2186 attempts to ensure that the training occurs on an annual basis. The bill is being referred to as the “Suicide Prevention Training Act in memory of Jonathan Childers.” Click on our infographic to the right to learn more about the teen suicide epidemic and our efforts to help prevent it.


The Senate Education Committee will meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow, April 14, to hear bills relating to charter schools and a handful of other matters. View the full agenda with links to the individual bills here. Remember also that you can watch live or archived video of most education committee hearings through Texas Legislature Online.


A private school voucher bill is on the move and headed for a likely floor debate this week or next. ATPE has urged its members to contact their senators about SB 4 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). Read more about the bill here. Also likely to be considered on the Senate floor this week is the upper chamber’s version of House Bill 1, the state budget.


The House Committee on Ways and Means has a high-profile hearing planned for Tuesday, April 14, too. The committee will take up a number of bills calling for tax cuts. ATPE has joined forces with other groups affiliated with Texas Forward, a revenue coalition that promotes a balanced approach to state budgeting, and is calling on legislators to consider these proposals very cautiously. Many education stakeholders are concerned that the loss of potentially five billion dollars in state revenue through tax cuts this session would greatly reduce the funding available for public schools and other critical needs.


Adding to tomorrow’s busy schedule, watch for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to mark up its new bipartisan proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. (Central Time) and can be viewed through the committee’s website. Read more about the new “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015” in ATPE Lobbyist Kate Kuhlmann’s recent blog post.


Later this week, watch for the House Public Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Educator Quality to consider several bills relating to educator preparation and certification. The agenda for the 8 a.m. hearing on Thursday, April 16, includes HB 3494 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble), which is the House companion to SB 892 by Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), a bill dealing with educator preparation. ATPE originally supported SB 892 as filed, but the Senate version was changed recently to make educator preparation program admission standards and training requirements less rigorous. Read more about SB 892 in one of our recent blog posts here.


STS April 18th Rally Poster

Finish off your week of grassroots advocacy by visiting the State Capitol on Saturday to participate in this year’s Save Texas Schools rally along with other representatives of ATPE and supporters of public schools from around the state. The rally will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on April 18, featuring guest speakers and live music. Visit SaveTXSchools.org to learn more and register to attend the rally.

Public education supporters are also encouraged to help promote the rally this week by tweeting with the hashtag #WhyIRally. Use the hashtag to share your own thoughts on why it’s important to prioritize public education during the 84th legislative session, and Save Texas Schools will retweet you.

Join us TOMORROW for the Save Texas Schools Rally

The Save Texas Schools March and Rally will take place tomorrow, Feb. 23, in Austin.

ATPE will be on hand distributing Teach the Vote T-shirts and materials. We encourage all educators to attend.

Save Texas Schools March and Rally
Texas State Capitol, Austin
Saturday, Feb. 23
11 a.m.—March on Congress Avenue
12 p.m.—Rally at the State Capitol

Public education in Texas is at a crossroads, threatened by underfunding and over-testing. Texas children deserve better! Join thousands of fellow Texans marching on Congress Avenue and standing up at the State Capitol to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Speakers include Perrin-Whitt Superintendent John Kuhn, education analyst Diane Ravitch and former Texas Education Association Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, as well as other education and business leaders, parents, teachers and students.

Let our legislators know that Texas children cannot be left standing outside a courtroom waiting for their future. We need fair funding and significant testing reform now!

The rally is kid and family-friendly. Please encourage your students and their families to take part.

For more information, visit www.savetxschools.org.

To register for the rally and connect with others from your area, visit www.savetxschools.nationbuilder.com/volunteer.

To apply for assistance with bus transportation for your school, visit www.savetxschools.org/request-for-assistance-with-bus-transportation.