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Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Sept. 23, 2022

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Educator Preparation | Certification Retirement | TRS | Social Security Texas Legislature Congress | Federal Elections Curriculum | Instruction

Date Posted: 9/23/2022

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.

LEGISLATURE: On Tuesday, the Texas House Higher Education and Public Education Committees met jointly to discuss an interim charge dedicated to teachers. Their charge is to: “Evaluate the impact of the pandemic on the state’s teacher workforce, and current practices to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators. Explore the impact of the educator preparation program regulatory environment. Make recommendations to improve educator recruitment, retention, and preparation throughout the state.”

ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier gave invited testimony, presenting recommendations from the new Texas Coalition for Educator Preparation (TCEP) of which ATPE is a founding member. The testimony highlighted core issues in educator preparation, such as inconsistency across preparation routes (alternative certification, traditional undergraduate). The quality and timing of training and clinical experiences vary greatly, as well as teacher retention outcomes, with teachers from traditional programs staying longer in the classroom. Chevalier shared several recommendations including expanding eligibility for loan repayment and financial aid for aspiring teachers and implementing a formative (rather than summative) performance assessment completed during a teacher candidate’s training.

For more on the hearing, see this blog post by Chevalier.

FEDERAL: In Washington, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee’s Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee met Tuesday. The focus of the hearing was “Back to School: Meeting Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs,” and witnesses included state commissioners of education. Click here to watch video from the hearing and download testimony transcripts.

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means held a markup hearing Tuesday on HR 82, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2021, which would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) in federal law. Both provisions reduce Social Security payments for many retired public servants who contributed to a government pension, such as the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Read more about the hearing in this blog post from ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter.

ATPE has long advocated for Congress to remove these penalties, and several bills have been filed to repeal and/or replace the WEP and GPO. The legislation has fared better in the House than in the U.S. Senate, and greater bipartisan support will be necessary to get any bill approved. HR 82 has 300 co-sponsors in the House. ATPE has also been urging members of Congress to support bills advanced by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

Today, ATPE joined with the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) in a joint letter to Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), urging him to help move Neal’s HR 2337, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act, toward a full House hearing. Doggett is a majority member of the Ways and Means Committee that oversees the Social Security legislation. Read the Sept. 23 letter here and stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates.

TRS: TRS has announced a new video series entitled “Understanding Your Pension Fund.” In the videos, an actuary and pension fund analyst covers three topics pertaining to the long-term health of TRS fund:

  • How the Health of the Fund is Calculated
  • How Benefit Enhancements are Paid For
  • Experience Study & Investment Return Assumption

TRS says the goal of the series is to help educate active TRS members and retirees on concepts and definitions commonly discussed at TRS board meetings, legislative committee hearings, and other briefings. Check out the new TRS resources here.

Also, as we have been reporting, TRS is joining UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, SilverScript, and CVS Caremark to conduct a series of fairs exploring retiree health benefits in locations around the state through Oct. 20. Visit TRS Health Care Events for dates, locations, and registration information for the free fairs.

Related: Check out the latest episode of The ATPE Podcast, in which ATPE's Monty Exter discusses the interplay between TRS and Social Security and ATPE’s advocacy on these retirement issues.

ELECTION: Tuesday marked National Voter Registration Day, a day dedicated to voter engagement and education, such as understanding whether you are registered to vote and if your registration is accurate and up to date. In Texas, there is no online registration for new voters, but those who simply need to change their name or address can do so online. For college students living away from home, the League of Women Voters recommends registering at the address (whether college or home) that allows for in-person voting, as it is the easiest way to vote.

Check your voter registration by the Oct. 11 deadline and find more information on registration and name/address updates here.

School safety, private school vouchers, educator pay, and curriculum are just a few of the issues at stake in the November general election. Remember that your ballot will include key decision makers from Congress, the governor, and lieutenant governor at the top of the ballot to school board races and local propositions at the bottom of the ballot. Don’t skip any race!

Here are key election dates and deadlines:

  • Last day to register to vote – Oct. 11
  • Vote by mail applications DUE – Oct. 28
  • Early voting – Oct. 24-Nov. 4
  • Educator Voting Day – Thursday, Oct. 27
  • Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 8
Use ATPE’s election resources here on Teach the Vote, including candidates’ profiles, survey responses, and voting records, to help you learn more about the candidates on your ballot.
CELEBRATIONS: Today is Native American Day, a day to honor those of Native American heritage and the culture of Native American tribes across the country.


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