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Teach the Vote's Week in Review: Jan. 22, 2021

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

School Finance Congress | Federal COVID-19

Date Posted: 1/22/2021

Here are highlights of legislative and regulatory developments in Austin and Washington, D.C. this week from the ATPE Governmental Relations team: 

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FEDERAL UPDATE: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took their oaths of office Wednesday during a socially-distanced inaugural celebration. Within 48 hours, Biden issued a slew of executive orders and actions, some of which pertain to education. They included extending the pause on federal student loan collections, directives to support safe school reopening, and assessing the impact of COVID-19 on educators and students, among others. Read more in this blog post by ATPE Lobbyist Andrea Chevalier.

Also this week the U.S. Department of Education announced the individuals appointed to fill some of the most high-profile positions within the department, including Chief of Staff, White House liaison, and several key deputies. Read the January 21 announcement here. A few of President Biden's cabinet members were confirmed this week, but Biden's nominee for Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona, still awaits a confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate.

ThinkstockPhotos-529915491_draft-bill.jpgLEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Texas House and Senate leaders both shared their proposals for the state budget this week. Strikingly similar, each proposal calls for spending approximately $7 billion over the amount of revenue Comptroller Glenn Hegar estimated the state would have to work with this session. Each proposal claims to fully fund the Foundation School Program, along with an increase of $3.1 billion for enrollment growth. The proposals do not appear to include federal dollars coming to Texas from the most recent COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress, legislation that is expected to push $5 billion to Texas school districts. See more on the budget proposals revelead this week in this article by the Texas Tribune, republished on our blog. 

We shared last week the assignments for Senate committees that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released last Friday, Texas House members have a deadline today to submit their committee preferences to Speaker Dade Phelan for his consideration. Meanwhile, both chambers are scheduled to gavel back in Tuesday, January 26, following an extended break. 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released new guidance this week and information about a waiver that would allow school districts to adopt a hybrid model in grades K-8 on testing days. The hybrid model is already allowed for high school students. The waiver allows districts to require certain students to engage in remote learning while other students are in the building for testing, such as STAAR or TELPAS online assessments. The waiver will be limited to five days per test administration. TEA continues to reject pleas from ATPE and scores of other groups for a waiver of testing requirements this year.

covid_binders_atpe.pngDon’t miss our upcoming ATPE webinar entitled “COVID-19 & Your Rights: An Update,” taking place at 5 p.m. CST next Thursday, January 28. The webinar which will cover questions about vaccines, denial of remote work accommodations, teacher evaluations, and more. ATPE members can register to participate here.

Find additional resources for educators at ATPE's Coronavirus FAQ and Resource page.

Texas’ second annual Holocaust Remembrance Week takes place January 25–29, 2021. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27, which was the date Allied troops liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. Check out this ATPE blog post to find links to lesson plans and other resourses from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, plus the application for the Dr. Anna Steinberger Outstanding Texas Educator Award administered by the commission. 

Stacked_logo_2021_color.jpgATPE members are encouraged to register for ATPE at the Virtual Capitol, a legislative symposium and advocacy training event. Join ATPE Governmental Relations and special guests online Sunday, February 21, for panel presentations, legislative issue updates, live Q&A opportunities, and advocacy training. Registration is free and now open at atpe.org/ATPE-at-the-Virtual-Capitol. ATPE members will need to log in and provide their member number to register.


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