Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Dec. 18, 2020
School Finance Congress | Federal COVID-19
Date Posted: 12/18/2020
- FEDERAL UPDATE: ATPE asks Congress to add paid leave to COVID relief bill
- CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Abbott discusses vaccine prioritization, Capitol access
- ATPE urges governor to extend school funding protections
- ELECTION UPDATE: Senate seat to be decided this weekend
- Winter ATPE News looks at upcoming "Zoom Legislature" and more
- Leadership opportunity for Reading Specialists and Librarians
- Have you noticed Teach the Vote's new look?
this blog post.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Gov. Greg Abbott gave a press conference Thursday to share an update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Texas. Abbott said roughly 95,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been distributed, with another 129,000 scheduled for distribution yesterday. He reiterated the state’s distribution plan, which includes priority access for healthcare workers, front-line workers, and vulnerable populations. Though the term “front-line workers” has not yet been formally defined, Abbott notably said in the press conference he considers teachers to be front-line workers and hopes they will be "near the front of the line.” Read more about Gov. Abbott''s press conference in this this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins.
ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter told the Dallas Morning News this week that vaccinating teachers was important in limiting quarantine-related disruptions to student learning. Similarly, ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins told Austin newsradio station KLBJ and Central Texas CBS 10 KWTX that teachers’ access to vaccines is critical to resuming normal school operations. ATPE has been recommending that educators be prioritized in vaccine allocation plans and discussing the issue with numerous state officials lately.
Related: While taking questions from the press, Abbott also expressed this week that he believes the State Capitol should and will be reopened for the upcoming legislative session. Mark Wiggins commented on this in an interview this week with KXAN, saying public access is critical to the democratic process, even if it’s virtual.
As always, ATPE’s list of comprehensive resources related to COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions is available to you here.
On Monday, ATPE joined other education advocacy groups asking Gov. Abbott to extend minimum funding guarantees for public schools that are set to expire this month. The “hold harmless” agreements protect school districts from losing funds because of declines in attendance and enrollment this year. With challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it is clear than schools need an extension of the funding guarantee. Read more in this blog post by ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter.
ATPE members are encouraged to take five minutes to send a message to state officials about the need for extending the hold harmless. Find sample messages, links to officeholders, and more here on Advocacy Central. (ATPE member login is required.)
Rep. Springer's voting record on key education issues in the Texas House, by searching the candidates here on Teach the Vote. For polling places and hours, check here.
The Winter 2020 issue of ATPE News, our association’s award-winning quarterly magazine, is now available. The issue includes a feature by ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell entitled "The Zoom Legislature: ATPE Prepares for a Session Unlike Any Other," which discusses what the upcoming session might be like and how ATPE will advocate for educators against the backdrop of the pandemic. Also, don't miss this issue's "Who's Really Calling the Shots" article to learn more about the interplay between federal, state, and local entities. In her "Your Voice" column, ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier explains why educator feedback is so important to the policy process.
This issue also previews our biennial advocacy event, ATPE at the *Virtual* Capitol. Save the date on February 21 to attend this free, virtual event and boost your advocacy skills! Registration will open in January. Find more detail here.
If you are a Reading Specialist or School Librarian looking to take on a leadership role, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently announced they are seeking nominations for educator standards committees in each of these areas. The committees will advise TEA and the State Board for Educator Certification on the knowledge and skills needed for those certificates. The nomination period runs through February 15, 2021! Read more in this blog post from ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.
You may have noticed that Teach the Vote has a brand-new look! We’ve updated our site to a new, contemporary design. Watch for additional updates coming soon, and share any feedback on the new site with ATPE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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