Education Abilene TSTA

Twitter @EdAbilene1 - We are the Abilene ISD local affiliate of Texas State Teachers Association/NEA. We advocate for ALL employees in Abilene ISD.

Remove "merit" pay from HB3

Act Now! Fill out simple form to let your representatives no we say "NO TO MERIT PAY!" Vote has been suspended until Monday. The Senate will vote tomorrow on its version of HB3, the school finance bill. This bill includes a provision to offer extra “merit” pay to a handful of teachers, based partly on STAAR test scores. Educational experts and statisticians have repeatedly pointed out that standardized test scores are...

KFDM/Fox 4 exclusive: Obscene words in version of STAAR test; TEA apologizes KFDM/Fox 4 has learned a version of the 5th grade STAAR test administered by the Texas Education Agency contains an obscene word in two different images on a reading comprehension exercise, and the state is apologizing. The 'f' word was in a passage with embedded images of a graffiti park. The test....

[05/01/19]   House Passes SB 2 Contingent on Passage of HB 3 by Senate

Things are coming to a conclusion this month in the Texas Legislature with only three weeks left after this week, and it is looking like all the critical bills for the leadership are making it into conference for further negotiations between the House and the Senate. SB 2, the revenue cap bill passed the House last night, and it is being sold as a tax reform bill in three parts: making it easier to challenge your tax appraisal; requiring an election if a local government’s revenue grows past a certain point; and increasing transparency on the entire system. However, there is no doubt that the bill will have a chilling effect on local governments ability to raise revenue going forward, including for school districts. The House also made it clear, the ultimate passage of SB 2 is contingent upon HB 3 passing with it.

Today, HB 3, the school finance bill moved out of the Senate Education Committee and will be heard by the full Senate this Friday, May 3. Senator Bettencourt voted against the bill, and Senators Hall and Paxton were present, not voting. The committee substitute for this bill looks very different from the House’s version which passed back in March. The bill does include an across the board $5,000 pay raise for all educators and librarians, but does nothing for the rest of the school employees of a school district. It also includes a heavily funded merit pay system with commissioner control in granting the funds to districts that create a merit pay system tied to high stakes tests. Be on the lookout and inform your members on alerts coming later today and tomorrow to contact your senator and ask them to not support merit pay in the bill.

The Texas Senate approved a sweeping school safety bill on Monday, aimed at preventing another mass school tragedy. Senate Bill 11 aims to strengthen mental health initiatives for students, ensure that school districts’ employees are equipped to respond to emergencies by requiring they have classroom access to a telephone and other electronic communication, and establish threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent. The bill also requires districts to appoint school safety committees to provide boards of trustees with recommendations for updates to their emergency operations plans. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

House passed the following bills so far this week:
HB 1906 authorizes a parent, or guardian, of a student with significant cognitive disabilities to request that the student be exempt from TEA developed alternative exams. HB 1906 authorizes an additional waiver of exemption to be created for the TEA to submit to the U.S. Department of Education for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
HB 2983 reduces the amount of consecutive testing for students who have performed well consistently by removing certain statewide standardized tests and reduces the STAAR tests to only 10 instead of 17 for students in grades 3-8. For students who have not yet achieved a satisfactory score on certain sections of any statewide standardized test, they will be tested again on the subject area they underperformed on using a test that the TEA will develop instead of testing the students on an entire STAAR test again.
HB 3012 requires core subject teachers to make available the curriculum materials that are provided to the other students in the classroom, available to students that are placed on in or out of school suspension. HB 3012 allows for students that are placed on in or out of school suspension to not fall behind in their classroom and leads to them staying on track for their exam and test preparation.
HB 963 requires State Board of Education (SBOE) to conduct of thorough review of the TEKS for career and technology and technology application curriculums as well as renames the career and technology education (CTE) allotment to career and technology education and technology applications allotment. HB 963 will provide an allotment to public school districts for students enrolling in technology application courses in grades 9-12.
HB 1517 will require schools to inform parents if the school does not employ a full time, or the equivalent of a full- time school nurse, but does not require school districts to hire an FTE. Additionally, the school can post the notice on the school's website as a measure of informing parents. This notification requirement does not apply to school districts or open-enrollment charter schools with student enrolment of less than 10,000 students.
HB 3132 requires school districts to provide effective literacy professional development for educators of students in kindergarten – 3rd grade to assist with students who are struggling to reach reading standards. The training will consist of:

Phonemic awareness



Vocabulary and comprehension

HB 3630 will ban the use of harmful restraints and seclusion techniques that are legal in Texas for students with disabilities. HB 3630 will protect students with disabilities and ensure that TEA will rid school districts ability to use these restraints for behavior management. HB 3630 will prohibit the use of aversive interventions for the purpose of discipline, convenience or as a substitute for federally protected educational or behavior supports and services.
HB 3904 removes the expiration date for statutory provisions related to IGCs and allows them to continue. HB 3904 modifies the systems for public school accountability performance standards and for individual graduation committees (IGCs) to satisfy public high school graduation requirements. HB 3904 will require the commissioner to assign a masters level credit in the accountability system for students that satisfy end-of-course (EOC) assessment requirements through a substitute assessment, such as SAT, ACT or AP/IB tests and adopt indicators within the Student Achievement domain that account for students who:

earn dual course credits in ELA, mathematics, science or social studies;

participate in extracurricular activities;

are in the 9th grade and academically on track to graduate with their cohort;

participate in full-day PreK; and

participate in elementary literacy and mathematics academies.

HB 3904 will prohibit the commissioner from attributing more that 50 percent of any domain performance rating to STAAR results.
HB 3009 will re-prioritize civics education in Texas classrooms to ensure that students across the state have access to understanding the importance of democracy and civic participation. HB 3009 will pave the way for students to advocate for, and participate in, change for their community, which is the goal of civics education. HB 3009 will allow school districts to develop local civic projects and offer project-based civics instruction within social studies to students twice from grades K-12.
HB 570 closes a loophole and holds open-enrollment charter schools to the same standards as school districts by requiring a charter operator to hold their open meetings in the same geographic boundary as the campus or alternatively stream the meeting live on the internet.
House Public Education Committee

The House Public Education Committee met yesterday on Senate companion bills that the Committee has not previously heard. Chairman Huberty indicated that he will be hearing Senate bills only if the Committee has not heard the House companion from this point forward. He also indicated that he would not be voting on any bills until House bills start moving in the Senate.

TSTA supported the following bills:

SB 54 relating to a study regarding the appropriate methods and standards to evaluate certain students participating in regional day school programs for the deaf. Requires TEA to conduct a study to determine options for accountability ratings for schools that send students to regional day schools for at least 50 percent of their instructional day.

SB 522 relating to the development of an individualized education program for a public school student with a visual impairment. Updates statute to reflect current language and practices.
SB 1451 relating to the ability of public school teachers to maintain student discipline without being subjected to adverse employment consequences. Prohibits districts from penalizing teachers for discipline referrals.
SB 1557 relating to military-connected students, including providing a designation for certain school district campuses that take actions to assist those students. Heard in Veteran’s Affairs in the Senate. Provides supports to students whose family is connected to the military. Recognizes campuses that make special efforts to serve their students who are connected to the military.
SB 2432 relating to the removal of a public school student from the classroom following certain conduct. Requires that a student be removed from a classroom if the student engages in conduct considered to be harassment.
TSTA took no position on the following bills:
SB 372 relating to the authority of an open-enrollment charter school to employ security personnel, commission peace officers, and have school resource officers. Allows charters to hire officers in the same manner as districts.
SB 435 relating to recommendations by local school health advisory councils regarding opioid addiction and abuse education in public schools. Requires school health advisory councils (SHACs) to make recommendations about opioid addiction and abuse.
Bills Voted Out of Senate Education Committee

SB 968 prohibits municipalities from prohibiting charter schools from operating at any location within their boundaries. Committee Substitute: clarifies the original intent of the bill. Section 3 clarifies a local municipality’s responsibility concerning the location of open-enrollment charter school but they cannot enforce a prohibition of a charter school district locating in the municipality.

SB 1600 would prohibit confidentiality agreements moving forward in regard to resignation, termination, or nonrenewal agreements concerning superintendent contracts.

SB 2285 would prohibit the commissioner of education from limiting certain challenges to a TEA decision relating to an academic or financial accountability rating and require the commissioner to raise a school district or charter school’s rating to a higher rating or indicate the school is not rated, if the challenge shows a data or calculation error caused the school to have a lower rating. Lastly, it would also prohibit the commissioner from revoking a charter or allowing a charter to expire if a school's rating is changed to not-rated as the result of certain challenges.
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Texas State Teachers Association

We took a deep dive into Senate Bill 4 today. #TeamTSTA's detailed analysis of the all the bill's moving parts is here:

The Writer Who Couldn't Answer Standardized Test Questions About Her Own Work (Again)! We are in standardized test season, and all across the country, students are taking the Big Standardized Test by which they, their schools, and their teachers will all be judged. How absurd are these tests? Meet Sara Holbrook, the writer who couldn't answer test questions about her own work.

Abilene Reporter-News

Zachary Galbreath, a senior at Abilene High School, already knows that he wants to be a master electrician some day. With NEXTUniversity, he's making it happen faster than he could on his own.

Education Abilene delegates with #TeamTSTA President Noel Candelaria


An #Abilene ISD high school student will be accomplishing something no one else in the district has done in the past. #BigCountryNews


[04/25/19]   Capitol Update 4/24/19

School Finance and Tax Reform Bill in Senate Education Committee

The Senate Education Committee will be hearing both HB 3 and SB 4 on Thursday. TSTA legislative staff are working on analyzing the details of the committee substitute for SB 4 received this morning for tomorrow’s hearing. At first blush, it appears there are several out-comes based funding provisions in the bill which would basically reward campuses and districts for student achievement aka high stakes tests. The bill also includes the merit based funding provisions that were in the original version of HB 3 for which TSTA worked to have removed before passing the House. Most importantly, the bill does include the teacher and librarian pay raise allotment that was in SB 3 heard earlier in the session which would provide for an across the board pay raise of $5,000 dollars.

Today’s House Activity

The author of HB 2, the companion to SB 2 and the revenue caps bill, was postponed today on the House floor until next Tuesday. It appears the House is waiting for the Senate to act on the School Finance and Property Tax Reform bill before it proceeds with a vote on capping local governments at 2.5% revenue growth without an election.

The Texas House did pass SB 12 today with the exact same language as HB 9, the bills to stabilize the Teacher Retirement System’s (TRS) pension fund and issue a potential 13th check for retirees. Since the House substituted its version of SB 12 today, it will return back to the Senate and ultimately will end up in conference.

SB 12/HB 9 accomplishes the following:

· Makes the TRS pension system actuarially sound by increasing the state contribution rate only and does not increase the contributions percentages for active employees or TRS-covered employers who do not pay Social Security.
· The state contribution would increase to 7.8 percent in 2020 and 8.05 percent in 2021 on its way to an eventual increase to an 8.8 percent contribution rate by 2025.
· Provides for a one-time supplemental payment no later than September 2020 in the amount of the member’s regular monthly annuity, not to exceed $2,400. By comparison, the Senate version of the bill caps the payment at $500.
· Provides for an overall biennial appropriation of state funds at $1.4 billion to pay for the increased state contribution percentage and the one-time supplemental payment.
The House also passed House Joint Resolution 10 and the corresponding House Bill 20 which would create an endowment called the Texas Legacy Fund. This measure, if it makes it through this session, would be on the ballot November 5 for voter approval. Once the fund is established and generating revenue, the Legacy Fund would pay for unfunded liabilities of ERS and TRS.

Bills Moving Today

HB 1632 relating to students eligible to receive compensatory, intensive, and accelerated instructional services passed the House and was received in the Senate today.

HB 906 relating to the establishment of a collaborative task force to study certain public school mental health services passed the House and was received in the Senate today.

HB 843 relating to the inclusion of satisfactory performance on certain postsecondary readiness assessment instruments in the indicators for evaluating the performance of public schools passed the House and was received in the Senate today.

HB 2511 relating to the content of a public school campus improvement plans passed the House.

SB 243 relating to the carrying or storage of a handgun by a school marshal passed the Senate.

HB 4310 relating to teacher instructional time passed the House.

HB 851 relating to the use of individual graduation committees and other alternative methods to satisfy certain public high school graduation requirements passed the House.

HB 2424 relating to the creation of a micro-credential certification program for public school educator continuing education passed the House.

Bills Laid Out In House Public Education Tuesday

TSTA went on record against HB 3623 relating to renewal of a public school teacher's continuing employment contract based on student growth.

TSTA supported the following bills:

HB 142 relating to a notice of educational rights and recovery by school districts and open-enrollment charter schools of costs for certain student evaluations.

HB 727 relating to the use of public school counselors' work time.

HB 1763 relating to the eligibility of the children of public school educators for free prekindergarten programs in public schools.

HB 3344 relating to requiring fine arts as part of the foundation curriculum for public schools.

HB 3452 relating to evaluating the performance of dropout recovery schools for purposes of the public school accountability system.

HB 4030 relating to funding for school districts to provide inclusive and accessible playgrounds.

HB 4094 relating to school district grace period policies and the provision of meals to public school students with insufficient balances on prepaid meal cards or meal accounts.
HB 4302 relating to regulations authorizing special education hearing officer subpoenas.

HB 4414 relating to identification and development of mental health resources for students.

TSTA was neutral on the following bills:

HB 2217 relating to consideration by the board of trustees of a school district of parental complaints regarding student or parent participation in an extracurricular activity.

HB 2526 relating to criteria for admission of certain students into public schools.

HB 3005 relating to college preparatory courses for public high school students.

HB 3025 relating to certain procedures regarding a dispute relating to special education services provided by a school district or open-enrollment charter school.

HB 3026 relating to the assignment of certain behavioral health professionals to a public school campus.

HB 3153 relating to the applicability of nepotism prohibitions to the appointment or employment of certain classroom teachers by school districts.

HB 3179 relating to costs associated with the statewide assessment program of public school students.

HB 3316 relating to the Texas Crime Stoppers Council.

HB 3489 relating to the establishment of a task force on sex-based harassment in public schools.

HB 3651 relating to a study and report regarding school district size and school district cost and academic effectiveness.

HB 3851 relating to unfunded state educational mandates imposed on school districts.

HB 3880 relating to information provided to public school students regarding the use of anabolic steroids.

HB 3888 relating to a school district's plan for parental involvement concerning mental health and substance use issues and suicide prevention.

HB 4186 relating to the creation of a committee to recommend a framework to incorporate digital teaching and learning in public schools.

HB 4313 relating to the creation of an adaptive sports program by the University Interscholastic League to provide students with disabilities access to team sports.

HB 4324 relating to the submission and use of electronic student records in the electronic student records system.

HB 4383 relating to a reporting requirement for public schools regarding instructional materials and technology.

HB 535 relating to completion and submission of a financial aid application for costs of higher education as a condition of high school graduation for public school students.

HB 4578 relating to the inclusion of instruction regarding culturally inclusive curriculum reflecting the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of society.

HB 4589 relating to the provision of a quality and globally competitive education as a mission of the public education system.

HJR 150 proposing a constitutional amendment requiring the system of public free schools to be globally competitive.

Bills Voted Out of Senate Education on Tuesday:

SB 713 Relating to a school district assigning a mentor teacher to a new classroom teacher. Committee Substitute: Enhances the flexibility for districts to create mentor programs by reducing the two-year requirement for mentor teachers to one year to ensure teachers approaching retirement are eligible to be mentors.

SB 722 Relating to a severance payment to a superintendent of a school district. Committee Substitute: Adds open-enrollment charter school districts to the language referring to severance pay for superintendents.

SB 740 Relating to the creation of a state financing program administered by the Texas Public Finance Authority to assist certain school districts with certain expenses; granting authority to issue bonds or other obligations.

SB 1133 Relating to prohibiting public schools from owning or having a business interest in certain entities and real property associated with those entities. Committee Substitute: Language separates the La Joya ISD Natatorium property from the water park. Also ensures that a district can own property owned prior to or after passage of the bill with the exception of a water park, a golf course, or a hotel.

SB 1454 Relating to the ownership, sale, lease, and disposition of property and management of assets of an open-enrollment charter school. Committee Substitute: Limits auditing provisions to those in excess in $25,000.

SB 1659 Relating to the acquisition and management of certain real property assets by the School Land Board for the use and benefit of the permanent school fund and the transfer of certain permanent school fund assets from the control of the School Land Board to the State Board of Education. Committee Substitute: Includes language requiring TEA to conduct a study on distributions from the ASF. Also allows SLB to keep revenue generated from its real asset fund and reinvest it.

SB 1828 Relating to Holocaust Remembrance Week in public schools.

SB 2117 Relating to state funding and accountability provisions applicable to school district campuses and programs operated under school district and charter partnerships.

SB 2293 Relating to the applicability of certain laws to open-enrollment charter schools.

Bills Laid Out in Senate Education for which TSTA supported:

SB 139 Relating to a notice of educational rights and recovery by school districts and open-enrollment charter schools of costs for certain student evaluations.

SB 232 Relating to parental notification by a school district regarding high school graduation requirements.

SB 451 Relating to the permissible uses of the bilingual education allotment provided under the foundation school program.

SB 629 Relating to the availability of certain school district financial information on certain districts' Internet websites.

SB 869 Relating to guidelines for policies of school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for the care of certain students at risk for anaphylaxis.

SB 1016 Relating to an audit by the Texas Education Agency of public school professional development training requirements.

SB 1284 Relating to a competitive grant program to fund promotion of early literacy programs in certain communities in this state.

SB 1828 Relating to Holocaust Remembrance Week in public schools. This bill was passed out of committee after it was heard.

TSTA opposed:

SB 2201 Relating to local goals for public education and governance of local school districts. Would allow school board to set term limits and require school districts to align district and campus improvement plans with student outcome plans, which include setting achievement goals for students across various indicators (household income, native language, ethnicity, gender and any other category identified by the commissioner).

TSTA remained neutral on the following bills:

SB 293 Relating to improving training and staff development for primary and secondary educators to enable them to more effectively serve all students.

SB 508 Relating to the development of a statewide online education and career advising tool and the establishment of a grant program to reimburse private employers for paid internships provided to certain public school students in career and technology education programs.

SB 514 Relating to speech protections for student publications in public schools.

SB 1374 Relating to the sequencing of certain required mathematics courses in public schools
SB 1600 Relating to the resignation or termination or nonrenewal of the contract of a superintendent of a school district.

SB 2074 Relating to authorizing school districts to reimburse under the Foundation School Program private employers for paid internships provided to certain students in career and technology education programs in the district.

SB 2283 Relating to the eligibility of persons convicted of certain offenses to serve as a member of a board of trustees of a school district.

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