AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today signed Senate Bill 7, relating to improper relationships between educators and students and the reporting of educator misconduct. Commissioner of Education Mike Morath issued the following statement:  “Parents should be confident that our schools are places of learning and trust for all students. When violations of that trust occur, there should be consequences. Senate Bill 7 provides the Texas Education Agency, law enforcement and local school districts with additional tools to continue our work in combatting educator misconduct.”  Authored by Sen. Paul Bettencourt and passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 7 requires principals to notify their superintendents if a teacher is terminated or resigns following allegations of serious misconduct.  view article arw

For numerous years many school districts across Texas have seen the state’s portion of their funding steadily decrease.  House Bill 21 this legislative session was an effort to begin turning that trend around by rewriting what’s referred to as “the formulas”- the equations used for determining how much state funding is appropriated. But House Bill 21 was declared dead Wednesday after a voucher measure was attached to it.  Texas Public Radio reporters talked with two San Antonio area superintendents about how the lack of new state funding will affect their districts. view article arw

The Texas Senate early Thursday approved a bill that would tweak a plan to grade school districts — two and a half hours after a midnight legislative deadline.  The Senate voted 29-2 to pass its version of House Bill 22, which would make changes to a plan for grading school districts on an A-F scale. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, the bill's sponsor, made some compromises to appease educators but did not include several of the provisions they want the most — including a delay to the start date of the rating system from 2018 to 2019 and a limit on how much of their grades depend on standardized tests. view article arw

The prospect of Texas public schools getting any additional money over the next two years is gone.  The Texas House on Wednesday took yet another overwhelming vote against so-called school choice, which would redirect state money to help students pay for private school tuition. Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said the move killed House Bill 21, which over the last few weeks has turned from the Legislature’s most promising school finance bill into a school choice measure.  “I’m sorry they chose to kill House Bill 21, but that’s the choice they’ve made,” Taylor said. view article arw

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate let a major effort at school finance reform die Wednesday, deadlocked with the House over a relatively small-scale proposal to allow public money to go to private schools.  Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor said the upper chamber would not appoint members to a conference committee to work out differences between the two versions of House Bill 21, legislation that sought to change the state’s school funding formula and pump up to $1.9 billion into schools.  “I think it's just dead,” said Taylor, R-Friendswood, who blamed the House's order to its negotiators to refuse any so-called voucher program. “A very quiet ending.” view article arw

State Rep. Dan Huberty said Wednesday that he would not accept the Senate's changes to his school finance bill, launching a last-ditch effort to hammer out a compromise with less than a week left in the session. After a passionate speech railing on the Senate for gutting his bill, Huberty, a Houston Republican who is chairman of the House Public Education Committee, announced he has decided to request a conference committee with the Senate on House Bill 21.   view article arw

After months of back and forth over how to fix what ails funding for Texas schools, lawmakers argued late into the night, Wednesday over a bill that would pump more state money into school budgets statewide. In the end, members of the House and Senate couldn't see eye to eye on what to leave in the bill to make school financing more equitable statewide.  view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday it’s still possible for lawmakers to avoid a special session, and pressed lawmakers to send him bills that put “real constraints” on local property taxes and afford students “privacy, safety and security” with a bill that would restrict the public restrooms that can be used by transgender people. “There’s still work that needs to be done. The good news is we still have time to get it done,” Abbott said, just days before the regular session ends Monday. view article arw

As the regular legislative session nears an end, the threat of a special session still looms. Thursday, in a one-on-one interview with CBS Austin Reporter Sarah Navoy, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he is confident the House and Senate can work out their differences. "When we are still in a regular session, I don't think about special sessions," said Gov. Abbott. "I think about taking care of business during the regular session." view article arw

A senate bill was signed into law Thursday aiming at cracking down on inappropriate teacher-student relationships across Texas schools. Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 7 into law Thursday. The law would increase punishment and fines for the misconduct. “We obviously entrust are children to be safe in their school environment anything that compromises that is unacceptable,” says Alex Pruitt, a concerned parent in the San Antonio area. view article arw

Homeowners who want to appeal their property appraisals will soon be able to do so by phone instead of having to go into a district office. The change comes after a bill authored by state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe, was signed into law by the governor.  After passing both the House and the Senate unanimously earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 445 on Tuesday. The new rules go into effect on Sept. 1.  Previously, the only options a property owner had in appealing a property appraisal was to appear in person at a hearing at a district office or to file an affidavit. view article arw

Thank God for the Texas House of Representatives. Given the general mischief made by the Texas Legislature every two years, that was a hard sentence to write. But it's true. The Texas House has steadfastly rejected any attempt to spend taxpayer money on voucher programs that would decrease state government support for public school districts. view article arw

Texas has cracked down on teachers who have sex and other inappropriate relationships with students. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a measure that could make — among other things — school superintendents and principals who fail to report such conduct subject to criminal charges. He said the measure would lead to restored trust in teachers. "Unfortunately, a small number of teachers are tarnishing the image of some of our best and brightest teachers," Abbott said. The bill by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, and co-authored by all 30 senators is an attempt to stop what Bettencourt has called a "statewide plague." It goes into effect Sept. 1. view article arw

Aledo ISD Superintendent Derek City Thursday expressed disappointment in the Texas Senate’s decision to include school choice vouchers in a bill that would have injected about an extra $1.6 billion into public education, likely dooming significant reform during the 2017 legislative session. The legislative session ends at midnight Monday, May 29. We were hopeful and optimistic the legislature would do something with school finance in light of the fact that the Texas Supreme Court, in their own words, found our funding system minimally constitutional,” Citty said. “We were hopeful, based on that finding, that they would do something. view article arw

Contention over where transgender people use the restroom has clouded much of the 2017 legislative session and has expanded to cover other issues such as property tax policy and school finance as lawmakers push to complete their work by Monday. After Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick served notice that the scaled-back version of the so-called bathroom bill recently approved by the Texas House was a non-starter in the Senate, the upper chamber in the predawn hours Wednesday made an end-run effort to save the stronger measure that fell victim to legislative deadlines. But by the time the sun rose over the Capitol, it was clear that the House would kill the measure again. view article arw

An effort to overhaul the state’s beleaguered school finance system has been declared dead after the Texas Senate Education Committee’s chairman said Wednesday that he would not appoint conferees to negotiate with the House. “That deal is dead,” Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. Taylor’s remarks come after his counterpart in the House, Dan Huberty, R-Houston, gave a passionate speech in which he said he would not accept the Senate’s changes to House Bill 21 and would seek a conference committee with the Senate. view article arw

The Texas House has voted to allow concealed carry permit holders to have guns in their locked cars parked outside schools. Tentative approval came late Tuesday night as an amendment to an otherwise unrelated bill on school boards. Final House approval should come Wednesday. The state Senate already approved a full, bipartisan bill seeking to do virtually the same thing. A similar, full bill had died in the House without reaching a floor vote but now lives on as an amendment. view article arw

A standoff between the Texas House and Senate over vouchers killed a major school finance fix Wednesday. The House tried to pump $1.6 billion dollars more into public schools. The Senate didn't want that much and countered by tacking on their own priority. The author of the House Bill 21 rejected the changes made to it in the Senate, saying they don't go far enough. Last year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the system was barely constitutional. So the House approved pumping $1.6 billion additional dollars into it but that plan came out of the Senate reduced to $530 million. view article arw

Texas lawmakers have given final approval to a measure cracking down on inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. The bill requires principals and superintendents to report inappropriate teacher-student relationships or face jail time and fines up to $10,000. The teacher's family could also lose access to the teacher's pension. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a key school funding bill dead Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" the House would refuse to go along with the Senate's plan to create a school voucher program for students with disabilities.  "Although Texas House leaders have been obstinate and closed-minded on this issue throughout this session, I was hopeful when we put this package together last week that we had found an opening that would break the logjam," Patrick said in a statement. "I simply did not believe they would vote against both disabled children and a substantial funding increase for public schools." view article arw

 A state lawmaker is looking for donations to pay off debt Texas students rack up in school cafeterias. Partnered with Feeding Texas, Representative Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, launched a statewide crowdfunding campaign Tuesday, in an effort to prevent what she calls “lunch shaming.” At some Texas schools, students with lunch debt or empty accounts are denied a hot lunch and given a cheese sandwich instead. “The cruelty and lack of compassion for children who suffer the humiliation, the labeling and not to mention the hunger pains of so-called lunch shaming, it is inconceivable,” Giddings said. view article arw

 The two-year state budget nearing passage contains almost no new money for public schools, a victim of infighting over school vouchers. Although $530 million of new school money was announced on House and Senate negotiators' decision documents late Saturday, that was premature — and inaccurate, the chief House budget writer, Rep. John Zerwas, said Wednesday. "There is no money in the bill" for slightly enhanced school funding, said Zerwas, a Richmond Republican. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly blamed that on House members. They "buckled under the demands of education bureaucrats" by killing off what would be the first use in Texas of state funds for private-school tuition, he said in a written statement. view article arw

AUSTIN (AP) — A transgender “bathroom bill” reminiscent of one in North Carolina that caused a national uproar now appears to be on a fast-track to becoming law in Texas — though it may only apply to public schools.  A broader proposal mandating that virtually all transgender people in the country’s second-largest state use public restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates sailed through the Texas Senate months ago. A similar measure had stalled in the House, but supporters late Sunday night used an amendment to tack school bathroom limits onto a separate and otherwise unrelated bill covering campus emergency operation plans. view article arw

 A Texas Senate proposal that would have provided access to public school dollars to subsidize private school tuition for about 6,000 students with disabilities has killed legislation that would have added up to $1.9 billion in public education funding. The Senate let House Bill 21 die Wednesday, deadlocked with the House over the relatively small-scale proposal it had added to the proposed major overhaul of school finance. view article arw

The 85th session of the Texas Legislature now entering its final week will not be remembered as one of the state's finest. But on two key issues, the House of Representatives must stand firm against Senate hardliners to prevent an iffy session from becoming a bad one. The first is that familiar time-waster, the "bathroom bill" championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. It's not worth another rehash of just how pointless it is. House Speaker Joe Straus correctly called it "manufactured and unnecessary," and that covers it well. The House has finessed this challenge by focusing on public schools instead of making it statewide, requiring students to use the restroom that matches their gender at birth. view article arw

Recently, many of us celebrated National Teacher Day, a time to show appreciation for the teachers who play an important role in shaping the minds and character of our future generations. As we remember the teachers who have impacted each of us and our families, let’s take a quick look at a few education-related bills the Texas House of Representatives has passed: House Bill 3976 (HB 3976) overhauls the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas. Without legislative changes and additional funding, the TRS-Care program, which serves as the retirement fund for practically all Texas public school educators, faces a $1.06 billion shortfall. HB 3976 creates a path to make the system financially solvent for both current and future retired teachers. view article arw

 The "bathroom amendment" to Senate Bill 2078 continues to cause controversy. A Dripping Springs man believes passing this law could do more harm than good to transgender students, including one at his children's elementary school. Andy Hutton is an area attorney, who co-founded the "Many Stripes, One Tiger" group. view article arw

The Texas Senate early Monday approved a bill, 21-10, that would inject about $530 million into the public education system while creating a so-called school choice system that would redirect state money to help special education students pay for private school tuition. The bill, however, faces an uncertain fate — the Senate has made it clear that House Bill 21 dies if school choice isn’t included in the bill, while the House has said the bill dies if school ch oice is included. “It is hard for me to believe any Texas lawmaker would vote against a half-billion dollars for public schools, as well as voting against children with disabilities, simply to oppose school choice,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement. view article arw

Republicans behind a Texas House measure addressing bathroom use by transgender students said they wanted to provide “definitive guidance” to school districts on an issue that’s rattled through the current legislative session since before it was gaveled in. In offering up an amendment to Senate Bill 2078, Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie of Marshall explained that the proposal would require students to use bathrooms, lockers rooms and changing facilities based on their biological sex. If a student “does not wish” to use a facility based on that designation, school districts would have to accommodate them by offering a single-occupancy facility, he added. view article arw

The Texas House on Tuesday tentatively approved a measure that would allow school employees to store guns in their cars parked on school property. The provision, along with several others related to public schools, was tacked onto Senate Bill 1566, which would make changes to how school boards operate. The gun amendment originally was proposed in standalone House Bill 1692 by Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mt. Pleasant, but the bill hasn’t made it to the House floor. Tuesday was the deadline for the House to tentatively approve Senate bills for the session. Hefner’s amendment would allow licensed individuals to store a firearm in a locked car that is parked in a school parking lot. His original bill had 51 authors and co-authors, both Democrats and Republicans. view article arw

AUSTIN — The fate of millions of dollars in education funding hung in limbo Monday as lawmakers braced for the last full week of a legislative session marked by power grabs over contentious cultural battles in the Republican-controlled Legislature.  State lawmakers are set to adjourn May 29, but they have yet to resolve issues that have driven a wedge between the two chambers. The continued infighting could affect millions of public school students and might spark a special session, keeping lawmakers in Austin into the summer. view article arw

A bill intended to bolster the public school system with $1.6 billion in funding and restructure the funding system "morphed into a voucher bill" when a new version was approved by the Texas Senate Sunday night in a move local public education activist Bobby Rigues described as "the Senate holding public education hostage." view article arw

AUSTIN - The fate of millions of dollars in education funding and school bathroom policies for transgender children hung in limbo Monday as lawmakers braced for the last full week of a legislative session marked by power grabs over contentious cultural battles in the Republican-controlled Legislature.  State lawmakers are set to adjourn May 29, but they have yet to resolve issues that have driven a wedge between the two chambers. The continued infighting, which often involves social issues like religion and class conflicts, could affect millions of public school students or spark a special session that could keep lawmakers in Austin into the summer. view article arw

There was something very peculiar about the proceedings of the Texas House Sunday night, even amid a session that has scored high in casual cruelty and procedural dishonesty. In short, the chamber acceded to a small-but-significant part of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s proposed transgender bathroom law, as part of what seems to have been a deal to pass a budget and end Patrick’s threat of precipitating a special session, causing an indefinite extension of the Great Potty Crisis of 2017. view article arw

The Texas Senate, hoping to resurrect its versions of bathroom and property tax proposals dear to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, grafted both of them onto unrelated county affairs legislation early Wednesday and tentatively voted to send the package back to the House.  The House can reject the legislation outright, or offer to go to a conference committee to try to work out the differences. Patrick has threatened to kill must-pass legislation in order to get his way on the two issues — an action that would force lawmakers into a 30-day special session with an agenda set by Gov. Greg Abbott. view article arw