Raise your voices

   February 28, 2019

Raise your voices for public education; March to the Capitol on March 11

The March to the Capitol, a cooperative event organized by TSTA and Texas AFT, is only 11 days away, and all educators and public school advocates are encouraged to participate. Help us build more momentum for pay raises for teachers and ESPs and more classroom resources for students. Join NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, AFT President Randi Weingarten, your TSTA colleagues and other educators at the #RedForEd rally for public education at noon on Monday, March 11, on the south steps of the state Capitol.

If you haven’t already registered, please do so here  and urge your friends and colleagues to march and rally with us. Keep checking for updates on our #RedForEd Facebook page

SB3, teacher pay raise bill, headed to full Senate for vote

After compelling testimony from many teachers, including TSTA member Virginia Caldwell of Hutto ISD, the Senate Finance Committee on Monday unanimously approved Senate Bill 3, which would provide a $5,000 across the board pay raise for all classroom teachers. Now, it is eligible to be considered by the full Senate, perhaps as early as next week.

But a pay raise isn’t a done deal yet. The Senate Finance Committee was just the first hurdle.

TSTA supports any pay raise that would bring Texas closer to closing the $7,300-per-year deficit by which average teacher pay in Texas lags behind the national average. But SB3 doesn’t include librarians, nurses, counselors and support staff, and TSTA will demand that the Legislature appropriate sufficient funding to provide all school employees a raise.

TSTA also opposes a provision of SB3 that would encourage school districts to provide additional “merit” or incentive-based raises to a handful of teachers. All teachers and support staff deserve pay raises, not just a select few.

“I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s, and I still make not much more than a general manager at McDonald’s,” Caldwell, a middle school teacher with eight years’ teaching experience, told the Finance Committee.

$5K teacher raise plan advances to Senate 

Annual “Stand Up for Schools” luncheon is next Monday in Austin

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia will be the keynote speaker for this event at noon at the Dell Children’s Hospital’s Signe Auditorium. TSTA President Noel Candelaria will introduce Lily at the fund-raising event for Austin Voices for Education and Youth, a TSTA ally and advocate for community schools. The luncheon will be followed by a small rally at 3 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

House committee delays action on its version of property tax “relief”

The House Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing this week on HB2, the companion to SB2, which would place crippling limits on the ability of school boards and other local governments to raise the necessary revenue for public needs. But the chairman, Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, delayed action on the measure to allow time to try to reach a compromise and align the bill to changes in the school finance system.

Burrows said he wanted to “get something that’s right — not just get something across the finish line as quick as we can.” 

This was in sharp contrast to the attitude of Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, who rammed SB2 through the Senate Property Tax Committee a couple of weeks ago, after berating witnesses who testified against his bill. Since then, SB2 has been delayed in the Senate because it doesn’t have enough votes to open floor debate.

The bill is a bad idea and misses the point on providing property tax relief. It would require all but the smallest local governments to obtain voter approval for any property tax changes that would increase revenue on existing property by more than 2.5 percent from the previous year. This would make it extremely difficult for school districts and other local communities to provide the services necessary to keep up with growth.

Property taxes are high because of increased property values and the Legislature’s failure to adequately fund public education. The state now pays for only 38 percent of the Foundation School Program while local taxpayers bear 62 percent of the cost.

Please take our new Teacher Moonlighting and Morale Survey

It will take only a few minutes of your time, and you will not be leaving your name. But the answers you provide about your school job and the extra jobs you may have to take to make ends meet will help us advocate for public policies that benefit you and your students. Your input is particularly important during this legislative session, when school finance and educator pay are high priorities. Please help us help the Legislature get it right.

Gov. Abbott reappoints Education Commissioner Mike Morath

If confirmed by the Senate, Morath would continue to serve until January 2023Morath carries out policies enacted by the governor and the Legislature, including some like the A-F school grading system and expansion of charter schools, which TSTA believes are not in the best interests of educators and school children.

At present, TSTA and Texas AFT have a joint lawsuit pending against the commissioner over his implementation of SB1882, a law enacted in 2017 to encourage school districts to turn over struggling campuses to charters or other outside partners. We believe the commissioner, in an eagerness to promote charters, has violated provisions of that law that were intended to protect important educational standards for students and contractual rights for teachers.

Sign up to volunteer for the NEA-RA in Houston

As you may be aware, TSTA is hosting the NEA Representative Assembly this July in Houston, and we need to recruit about 300 volunteers. Ideally, most of our volunteers will come from Houston, but we want to give everyone the chance to be involved.

Please promote the NEA-RA wherever possible, sign up if you can and direct any potential volunteers to our website for more information and an electronic volunteer form. If you have any questions or concerns please contact exec.temp@tsta.org.



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Why Houston business leaders say it’s time to fix Texas school finance 

Texas House Democrats call for $14.5B boost for education