March 7, 2019

Red for Ed March to the Capitol on March 11

Educators, parents, students and public school allies from across the state are rallying on the south steps of the state Capitol on Monday to demand more state funding for public education. The event is co-sponsored by TSTA and Texas AFT, and will feature both NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and AFT President Randi Weingarten, as well as powerful voices from Texas educators.

If you haven’t already registered, please do so here and urge your friends and colleagues to march and rally with us. Keep checking for updates on our #RedForEd Facebook page.

Can’t join us in Austin on Monday?
You can still raise your voice for public education

If you are unable to physically attend the rally, you can still join the March on the Capitol and the national #RedForEd movement by wearing red in solidarity and contacting your state representative and state senator to tell them that we demand more state funding for public education.

TSTA encourages you to call your legislators on Monday to tell them this session must pass a state-funded, guaranteed, across-the-board pay raise for all our teachers, not just a select few. We also demand pay raises for other school employees, more classroom resources for our students and better benefits for retired educators. For more resources and talking points please visit TSTA’s legislative session page

You can find your legislators’ contact information by entering your address here

House and Senate at odds over teacher pay

Both houses have now proposed bills addressing teacher compensation, the Senate as a stand-alone bill, SB3, proposing a $5,000 salary increase for classroom teachers and librarians, and the House as part of a larger school finance overhaul, HB3, that would increase the minimum salary schedule. HB3 does not provide for an across-the-board raise.

TSTA is still evaluating the House bill, but we are encouraged by the overall increase in state education funding, which would provide more classroom resources and money for critical programs such as pre-K. However, both proposals fall short of an assured pay raise for all school employees.

TSTA is continuing our push to include all educators—not only all teachers, but also counselors, librarians, nurses, support staff and everyone working for the good of Texas students—in a long-overdue pay increase.

House and Senate file TRS bills to stabilize fund

Two bills—SB12, filed by Senator Joan Huffman, and HB9, filed by Representative Greg Bonnen—seek to make the TRS pension plan actuarially sound, but by very different means. HB9 proposes to raise the state contribution rate to the fund, which is currently the lowest in the nation among non-mandatory Social Security states, from 6.8 to 8.8 percent, and would allow for a 13th check of up to $2,400 by the next biennium. Sen. Huffman’s bill would increase contribution rates from educators and districts, as well as a much smaller increase from the state. Needless to say, TSTA supports Rep. Bonnen’s plan to compel the state to take a greater responsibility for our retired educators.

House Pub Ed committee puts STAAR under the microscope

For more than five hours members of the House Public Education Committee listened to testimony from a cross-section of the education community on issues with the STAAR test. Superintendents, parents, teachers, administrators and researchers offered testimony on the disconnect between predictors of student performance on the STAAR test and their actual outcome on STAAR.
Testifiers spoke specifically of research indicating that the test measures student achievement, on average, two to three years above grade level. Educators pointed out that STAAR lacks diagnostic value in designing and implementing programs to strengthen student achievement because of the readability issues and the timing of administration.

Testifiers also stressed their concerns around the continuing high stakes attached to STAAR and the impact it has on students, teachers, and administrators. 

Texas Senator José Menéndez indicated that he intends to introduce legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on the use of the STAAR test as a measure of school district performance. TEA and Texas Aspire were the only testifiers appearing in support of the STAAR assessment.

Texas says most of its students aren’t reading at grade level. But are its tests fair? 

Bill would expand safety requirements on campuses

Senate Bill 11, introduced by Sen. Larry Taylor this week, would require school districts to develop a safety plan and create safety committees to work with local law enforcement in an attempt to prevent future school shootings like last year’s tragedy at Santa Fe High School. The bill also would fund more mental health training for teachers to learn how to identify at-risk students and offer student loan forgiveness to recruit more school counselors.

Texas Senate introduces extensive school safety reform bill 

Public Ed committee advances bills on community schools, civics testing

The House Public Education Committee this week approved HB92 by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez of Austin to prohibit the education commissioner from closing a struggling school without first giving local officials the opportunity to convert the campus into a community school. This model, which offers social services and community support to students and their families, has been successful in turning around struggling campuses in a number of cities, including Austin.

The panel also approved HB1244 by Rep. Trent Ashby of Lufkin to require students to pass a civics test before being allowed to graduate from high school. The civics test would replace the U.S. history exam now required for graduation.

Texas’ newest state representative elected

Christina Morales defeated Melissa Noriega in the special election runoff to replace former state Rep. Carol Alvarado in the Texas House. Alvarado was elected to the state Senate in an earlier special election. Morales will be sworn in soon and join three other freshman Democrats from Harris County in the legislative session that is already underway. 

A special election in San Antonio to replace former state Rep. Justin Rodriguez is still underway. TSTA has endorsed Ray Lopez to represent District 125. Early voting continues until 8 pm Friday, and Election Day is Tuesday, March 12.

Please take our new Teacher Moonlighting and Morale Survey

It will take only a few minutes of your time, and you will not be leaving your name. But the answers you provide about your school job and the extra jobs you may have to take to make ends meet will help us advocate for public policies that benefit you and your students. Your input is particularly important during this legislative session, when school finance and educator pay are high priorities. Please help us help the Legislature get it right.

Educator Rights as advocates re: gun violence

General Meeting

Second Monday of each Month

7:00 pm

FWEA Building

Ft. Worth Education Association  
 6021 West Creek Drive  Ft. Worth, TX  76133