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Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Jan. 14, 2022

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Educator Preparation | Certification Retirement | TRS | Social Security Texas Legislature COVID-19 Elections Curriculum | Instruction

Date Posted: 1/14/2022

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

COVID: As omicron-driven infection rates continue to afflict schools, forcing widespread closures and unprecedented staff absences, federal and state officials are taking action to mitigate negative effects on students and staff. The White House announced this week it will distribute 10 million more COVID tests per month to help keep schools open. The announcement follows last month’s recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting schools use a “test-to-stay” practice on students who were close contacts of someone with COVID.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) reduced the quarantine period for staff from 10 days to five. This week, the agency posted updated guidance stating the low attendance waiver application had been closed and new “options” to address attendance rate declines were being explored.

SURVEY: ATPE recently collected the experiences of nearly 1,000 educators on the House Bill 3 (2019) Reading Academies. ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier shares the results of the survey in this blog post, revealing many educators feel the requirement is too extensive. Additionally, numerous educators question the value of the content and report they are not being paid for their time, despite working weekends and after hours to complete the training requirements. ATPE members interested in sharing their experiences with the Reading Academies can use our Advocacy Central tool (member login required) to send a message to their lawmakers ahead of the next legislative session.

TRS: Today is the day! Retired TRS members who use direct deposit are set to receive their one-time supplemental benefit payment, also known as a “13th check,” today or by Tuesday. All others should receive their checks within the next two weeks, accounting for mail delays. The amount should match the retiree’s regular monthly annuity payment up to a maximum of $2,400. ATPE strongly supported Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) through which the Legislature authorized the additional payment for retired educators during the last year’s second special session.

TWITTER: Last weekend, conservative activist and former head of Empower Texans (a now-defunct group that spent millions on candidates backing an ultra-conservative agenda, including private school vouchers, and once solicited “whistleblowers” to target politically active educators) published a cruel tweet comparing teachers to babysitters and calling educators “otherwise unemployable adults.” The tweet ignited a fire within political circles and the education community, sparking an outpouring of support for public schools and educators, including from ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes who tweeted that “teachers are heroes.” The Dallas Morning News this week published a strong rebuke of the offensive tweet, which columnist Sharon Grigsby says was a ploy at political manipulation and urged voters to fight back against such “loudmouth know-it-alls” at the polls in the upcoming March primaries. Read the editorial, republished with permission, here on Teach the Vote.

ELECTIONS: Do you need to register to vote? Are you already registered but have moved or changed your name? There are just over two weeks left to register to vote in the March 1 primary election, which is when the outcome of many of this year’s high-profile races will be determined.

Dates to remember:

  • Jan. 31 – Last day to register to vote
  • Feb. 14 – First day of early voting ♥
  • Feb. 18 – Last day an application to vote by mail can be received
  • Feb. 25 – Last day of early voting
  • March 1 – Texas Primary Election Day
The Texas League of Women Voters is offering a free webinar at noon (CST) Tuesday, Jan. 18, about the new election laws in place for the March 1 primaries. Find more information and the registration link here.
ATPE has also updated our Teach the Vote website to enable you to view profiles of all candidates for the Texas House and Senate, State Board of Education, and select statewide offices. The updates align our search tools with new district maps approved by the Texas Legislature last year through the 10-year redistricting process that follows each U.S. Census. Candidates’ responses to our survey are also being uploaded to the site, as well as updated 2021 voting records for incumbent legislators. The full data upload should be completed within the next few days, and we’ll continue to update Teach theVote with additional candidate information and survey responses as we receive them.


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