Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: Feb. 10, 2023
School Finance Educator Preparation | Certification Texas Legislature Congress | Federal Privatization | Vouchers Educator Compensation | Benefits
Date Posted: 2/10/2023
The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.
- Texas House Speaker makes committee appointments
- ATPE shares budget input at Senate Finance Committee hearing
- SBEC ponders teacher residencies and certification rule changes
- ATPE, other education advocates discuss vouchers with news media
- Biden discusses education during State of the Union address
- Paxton agrees to $3.3M taxpayer-funded settlement of lawsuit by former OAG staff whistleblowers
- Today is the last day to register for ATPE at the Capitol!
HOUSE: On Wednesday, Texas state representatives found out their committee assignments for the 2023 legislative session already underway. The appointments by House Speaker Dade Phelan include new leadership for the House Public Education (HPE) Committee and a new Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety, with the stated purpose of providing “a cross-jurisdictional forum for the consideration of issues that broadly affect health, safety, and rights of Texas youth.” Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Killeen) takes over as HPE chair, replacing Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston). Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) will chair the new select committee. Read more about the committee announcements in this blog post from ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
BUDGET: The Texas Senate Finance Committee discussed the education portion of the draft state budget this week, hearing testimony from state agencies and organizations about funding for PK-12 and higher education, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). Read more about the hearing and testimony given Monday by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Monty Exter in this blog post.
SBEC: The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) held its first 2023 meeting today, focusing much of its discussion on a plan to replace the current pedagogy and professional responsibilities (PPR) certification exam with the Pearson-administered edTPA performance assessment. ATPE and many other stakeholders have opposed the move to use edTPA as a certification exam, noting its ties to Common Core, its failure to test candidates on the Educators’ Code of Ethics, and its unsuitability as a summative exam, particularly for candidates who have gone through an alternative certification program.
In 2022, the State Board of Education (SBOE) vetoed SBEC’s rule change to adopt edTPA as a certification exam. SBOE members have continued to express concern over the direction the certification board is taking. SBOE Member Audrey Young shared a letter with the board today outlining her concerns. SBEC has indicated that it may adopt another rule amendment in September, which would lead to another review by the SBOE in November.
SBEC also discussed the idea of creating new certification rules to support teacher residency programs and hear testimony about planned future updates to the board’s rules for EPP programs. Read more about the Feb. 10 SBEC meeting in this blog post from ATPE Senior Lobbyist Mark Wiggins and ATPE Associate Executive Director Jennifer Mitchell.
VOUCHERS: ATPE’s Mark Wiggins spoke to KXAN News last weekend about the push by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and others to convince the Legislature to enact private school vouchers this session. Wiggins said vouchers would amount to “tax dollars going into a black hole with no accountability, no transparency whatsoever.” View the full interview here.
The looming Texas fight over vouchers this legislative session is also garnering national media attention. Newsweek interviewed Rev. Charles Johnson of Pastors for Texas Children (PTC) for a Feb. 3 article about that group’s opposition to Abbott’s call for universal private school vouchers. Like ATPE, PTC is a member of the anti-voucher Coalition for Public Schools. In the article, Johnson emphasized the conservative bent of Texas politics and said vouchers don’t align with those values, including “local control and limited government.” Read the Newsweek piece here.
Also this week, superintendents from two large Texas school districts wrote a powerful op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News about the danger of sending taxpayer dollars to private schools that are unregulated. Northside (20) ISD Superintendent Brian Woods, president of the Texas School Alliance, and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Superintendent Mark Henry compared the voucher risk to the fiscal improprieties that have been uncovered in some charter schools that are funded by taxpayers but subject to less accountability and transparency than traditional public schools. Read more in this Teach the Vote blog post.
PRESIDENT: Tuesday night was the annual State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., where President Joe Biden spoke to congress about his administration’s top priorities. Among education topics mentioned, Biden called for teacher pay raises and initiatives to expand mental health support for students, such as helping schools hire more counselors. Free, universal Pre-Kindergarten and two years of paid community college tuition are also priorities. Read a transcript of the speech here.
PAXTON: According to news reports today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against him by four former staff members who alleged they were retaliated against for being whistleblowers. A total of eight senior staffers complained in 2020 that Paxton was improperly using his elected office to benefit a campaign donor. The employees were later terminated or resigned, and Paxton publicly referred to them as “rogue employees” and dismissed their allegations as false. The settlement reached today calls for a $3.3 million payment to the plaintiffs and an apology from Paxton. Importantly, the $3.3 million settlement would be paid using taxpayer funds and must be approved by the Texas Legislature.
ATPE: Today is the last day to register for ATPE at the Capitol, our political involvement training and lobby day event happening Feb. 20-21 at the Austin Marriott Downtown and the Texas State Capitol. The event will feature training sessions, Q&A with a panel of legislators, visits to legislative offices, and more. There is no registration fee for ATPE members to attend. Learn more and register at atpe.org/aatc.
Related: Today is also the last day to purchase tickets for The PAC’s Peak Ski Lodge, our exclusive ATPE-PAC fundraising event happening during ATPE at the Capitol on the evening of Feb. 20. Don’t miss out on fireside karaoke and a scrumptious dessert reception with fellow ATPE friends. Visit the link above to purchase tickets.
ATPE-PAC solicits donations only from ATPE members, employees, and their families. Participation in ATPE-PAC is voluntary. Members can contribute any amount or nothing at all without affecting their ATPE membership status, rights, or benefits. In accordance with state and federal laws, ATPE local units and regions may not contribute membership dues dollars to ATPE-PAC.
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