Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B announced in a press release Tuesday that it had selected the Greenville Independent School District’s Board of Trustees as one of five finalists for its Excellence in Education Award.  “This is a tremendous honor for our school board and for our district,” GISD School Board President John Kelso said in a press release from the district. “It speaks to GISD’s commitment to building a culture of excellence for our students and our community.” view article arw

The fact that a new commission to study judicial selection in Texas even met last week was an achievement in itself.  The last time the Legislature created a commission to study the way Texas judges are picked, in 2013, it didn’t convene a single time. The last time a bill to overhaul the system made it through either chamber of the Legislature was a decade before that. view article arw

AUSTIN  – Nanette Sissney of Whitesboro, the vice chair of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, has been nominated to serve on the Legislative Committee of the National Council on Teacher Retirement, the TRS announced this week.  NCTR is an independent association dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of U.S. public retirement systems. The Legislative Committee monitors federal legislation or initiatives on issues of importance to retired teachers. As appropriate, it also provides recommendations for action to the NCTR president. view article arw

The Texas State Teachers Association opposes a new set of rules, proposed by Education Commissioner Mike Morath, that would significantly increase opportunities for charter school chains to expand in Texas, at a potential cost of hundreds of millions of additional dollars to taxpayers and public school districts. Among other things, the proposed rules would give charter chains that the commissioner considers high-performing under a new “performance framework” almost carte blanche freedom to open new campuses without regard for the academic need for the new schools or the negative financial impact on the school districts in which the new campuses are located. view article arw

On Jan. 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the K-12 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. It was hailed as a civil rights law that would help historically marginalized students but is better known for ushering in the high-stakes standardized testing era.  The law — a compromise version was approved by the House and Senate in December 2001 The votes in the House and the Senate were lopsided, with the House voting 381 to 41 and the Senate 87 to 10.  Two of the leading candidates for this year’s Democratic presidential nomination were in Congress at the time: former vice president Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), then a member of the House from Vermont. view article arw

Very interesting article. - js  The side-by-side comparisons of Texas and California textbooks are well done.  American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics.  Here are some great examples view article arw

Introduction: Promoted as an “education reform” to improve the learning of economically disadvantaged students, the Texas Legislature and the Commissioner of Education have been approving the expansion of privately-operated charters (“charters”) across the State of Texas. Charters are taxpayer funded, privately managed organizations that the State approves to independently operate schools in locally governed school districts. As such, charters are free to aggressively recruit students to garner the per student taxpayer funding of $10,525 from local school districts. The privatization of Texas public schools is big business. Charters will receive $3.28 billion of taxpayer funding this year. But the State does not regulate the recruiting tactics of charters and the State does not consider the best interests of students, families and taxpayers as it approves charters to rapidly expand in local communities. For example, the State is approving charters with “C” academic ratings to expand in school districts that have State provided academic ratings of “A”. view article arw

The “Yes, I Will Vote” campaign was launched during a luncheon for local businesses and organizations and was held at an IBC administration building hosted by the Laredo Commission for Women on Tuesday. view article arw

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Nelda Blair and Dale Wainwright to the Public Safety Commission for terms set to expire on January 1, 2026 and January 1, 2024, respectively. The commission oversees the Texas Department of Public Safety, which enforces laws protecting the public safety and provides for the prevention and detection of crime. view article arw

PHARR, RGV – The business community of the Rio Grande Valley has been praised for the key role it played in persuading the Texas legislature to pump more money into public education.  State lawmakers invested an additional $6.5 billion into public education during the 2019 legislative session, with Hidalgo County receiving an additional $90 million over the next biennium and Cameron County receiving just shy of this amount.  “For sure,” said Jennifer Esterline, executive director of the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, when asked if the Valley business community frequently went to Austin to support meaningful school finance reform. view article arw

The committee took no further action on the report, which stated that the information produced "militates against criminal prosecution" on retiring House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and state Rep. Dustin Burrows.  The House General Investigating Committee on Friday unanimously adopted a report from its legal advisers that said House Speaker Dennis Bonnen “likely violated” state law during a June meeting with a fellow member and a hardline conservative activist — though members didn't raise the idea of any possible action against Bonnen and said the investigation was closed.  “Today’s action concludes the committee’s investigation," said state Rep. Morgan Meyer, a Dallas Republican who chairs the committee, after members met behind closed doors for over an hour. view article arw

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will be in Dallas Thursday to deliver his biennial State of the State address. The address, hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber, is set to begin at noon inside the Fairmont Dallas hotel. view article arw

A quick takeaway from the deadline of candidate filings: The Texas Senate is going to be the calmest spot in the state’s electoral ocean in 2020. Republicans hold the majority in that chamber, and not one of them will face an opponent in next year’s GOP primary. It’s hard to say whether that’s an exhibition of discipline on the party’s part or a lack of ambition among potential challengers. view article arw

Interview with Travis Olsen

December 1108:15 AM

Continuing in CD02, which now has three candidates and while not on the national radar at this time it’s very much in the conversation. For today we have Travis Olsen, who had been an employee in the Department of Homeland Security for three years before resigning to protest the actions of the Trump administration. A graduate of Spring Branch ISD, Olsen is an attorney who volunteers on the Klein ISD leadership council, where his kids go to school. Here’s the interview: view article arw

Though the news broke last week from Baltimore, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ withdrawal from the presidential campaign reverberated all the way to Texas. Harris made a few inroads in the state. But most prominently, she hired over the last few years a stable of female operatives with Texas roots. And one particular woman was on the mind of a number of Texas Democrats, now that she was without a campaign. "What's Emmy going to do next?" was the question bouncing around Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on Tuesday, referring to Emmy Ruiz, an Austin-based Democratic field organizer who was one of the most sought-after campaign consultants this cycle. view article arw

As Houston Independent School District fights for its independence, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel gave little indication Thursday of whether he would tap the brakes on the state’s plans to strip power from the elected trustees and install a new governing board. However, Yeakel complimented the district on a “well-presented” case and said he plans to rule quickly on HISD’s request for a preliminary injunction. An injunction would stop the state from making moves to upend management at the state’s largest school district until the court hears and decides the full case. view article arw

A state-ordered study of Texas’ primary public education standardized tests, known as STAAR, has found that nearly all reading and writing passages used on the 2019 exams were appropriately difficult for children in elementary and middle school, rebutting claims by leading educators that some texts have been too challenging to accurately measure students’ knowledge. In a study released this week by The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, housed at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers determined that up to 97 percent of reading and writing passages used on STAAR met their criteria for classifying as a grade-level appropriate text. State lawmakers ordered the study earlier this year after some educators, including those affiliated with an organization representing 40 of Texas’ largest school districts, argued STAAR passages were not grade-level appropriate. view article arw

Were the reading and writing passages on standardized tests that Texas elementary and middle school students took this spring too challenging for their grade levels? Likely not, University of Texas at Austin researchers said in a report released Monday. But they struggled to determine whether the questions and answers for those tests and several others were too hard. A heated debate over the standardized tests sprung up during this year's legislative session, when a coalition of education advocates resurfaced years-old studies showing that test passages were written one to three grades above elementary and middle schoolers' grade levels. view article arw

The Sugar Land Republican faced fast and fierce backlash after he accused his opponents of running against him because they are Asian in a district with a sizable Asian population.  State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, is no longer running for reelection after he sparked a firestorm for saying he was facing primary challengers because they are “Asian.”  “During a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle I made some statements that were insensitive and inexcusable,” Miller said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “In trying to make a point about the campaign I used a poor choice of words that are not indicative of my character or heart.” view article arw

In one week, we’ll know who’s going to have a primary. Who is going to have a fight in November. Who’s quitting. Who isn’t quitting. The table will be set for a big 2020 election — and for a very interesting political science experiment in a state that has been unshakably reliable for Republicans since the mid-1990s. The 2018 elections didn’t follow historical patterns. Turnout was huge: 8.4 million Texans voted in a year when 5.5 million to 6 million — based on past results — would have been considered normal. view article arw

Federal officials have ordered the Texas Education Agency to pay a former special education director more than $200,000 in damages for illegally firing her. Laurie Kash filed a federal complaint Nov. 21, 2017, with the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the TEA had illegally awarded a no-bid contract to a company to analyze private records of students receiving special education services. A day later, the TEA fired her. But state officials said Kash was terminated because employees at a former job filed a civil lawsuit against her alleging she had covered up the sexual abuse of a 6-year-old. view article arw

Lawrence Allen, Jr., followed his mother’s footsteps when he became a teacher, a principal, and a member of the state’s highest education board. Now, he wants to follow her to Texas House of Representatives. view article arw

Parents, teachers and some Houston ISD school board members exchanged verbal fireworks over a looming state takeover of the district during a town hall at Chavez High School Thursday evening. Some community members chanted during the event. Members of the Houston Federation of Teachers did the same after it ended. Others passed out flyers to bring crowds to the next community town hall on the issue. view article arw

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath emphasized the importance of investing in high quality educators to spur student academic achievement during his keynote speech for the State of Public Education breakfast held by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. Morath spoke to a large crowd of business leaders, educators and students at the Baylor Club at McLane Stadium. Waco Independent School District Superintendent Susan Kincannon and Midway Independent School District Superintendent George Kazanas spoke after the commissioner about their districts’ respective career and technical education programs. view article arw

The Houston Federation of Teachers announced legal action against the state of Texas. The union said the Texas Education Agency's takeover of the Houston Independent School District is unconstitutional. Union officials made the argument in federal court on Tuesday.   view article arw

Not many people understand South Texas. It's one of the handful of blue pockets in the state, but unlike the others, it's not clustered in an urban center. The congressional districts that represent it encompass small border cities and ranch lands alike. Like other heavily Hispanic areas, the number of young voters grows each election, and what that means for the Democratic Party is uncertain. view article arw

Dennis Bonnen’s rise to speaker of the Texas House marked a change in the winds at the Texas Capitol. It’s not so much that his politics were different from his predecessor’s. His relationships with the governor and lieutenant governor were better, though. And the timing was in his favor: Texas voters wanted lawmakers to tackle big issues after a 2017 legislative session that will be remembered, above all else, for a fight over gender identity — presented as a debate over who gets to use which public restrooms. view article arw

A group representing more than three dozen state lawmakers is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott's administration to fix the paperwork logjam that has made life difficult for some Texas-born children in Mexico. Leaders of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in Texas called for change following an investigation by NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo 39. view article arw

A witness in the Trump impeachment hearings is no stranger to teachers in Houston. On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams testified in front of Congress. She says she overheard a phone call between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian leader which she called "unusual." view article arw

If you look at his campaign missives, it’s clear that the state’s lieutenant governor — or maybe it’s his staff — can’t reconcile his math with his politics.  Dan Patrick complains that spending in “many” cities and counties has been growing at 7% or more per year. And later on, he tries to debunk reports that the state budget went up by more than twice that amount:  “There has been a great deal of misinformation about the growth in the Texas state budget this session bolstered by early reports from the Legislative Budget Board and TPPF [the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank] suggesting the budget increased three or four times more than it actually did. You may have seen e-mails or articles on conservative blogs and news sites this summer that we increased spending this year 12-14%. That was just incorrect,” he wrote. view article arw

The race for Texas’ 13th Congressional District could soon grow larger as a former WFISD school board president has launched an exploratory committee for a potential run. Trey Sralla confirmed the committee to our newsroom this morning. view article arw

Rep. Gary VanDeaver has announced he will seek re-election to the Texas House, and he has received endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott. “I am proud to endorse Rep. Gary VanDeaver for re-election,” Abbott said in a press release. “Gary is a strong conservative leader who worked to rein in your property taxes and improve education for Texas students.” VanDeaver said he is proud to have Abbott’s support. view article arw

Pilgrim Academy eighth-grader Printis Stevens has big dreams of becoming a forensic anthropologist, turning her fascination with science into a job that helps law enforcement investigators solve crimes and bring closure to families. Her love of science gets cultivated each day in the bright, high-ceilinged classroom of Christopher Hua, an energetic, Johns Hopkins-educated teacher now in his fourth year at the Houston ISD campus. Students and the school’s principal, Diana Castillo, lavish praise on Hua for his ability to relate with students and willingness to spend after-hours time with kids. view article arw

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is heading to a runoff against high-profile attorney Tony Buzbee in his rowdy reelection race.  With all vote centers reporting Wednesday morning, Turner had 47% of the vote in unofficial returns to 28% for Buzbee. Turner was around 7,800 votes short of winning enough of the vote — over 50% — to avert an overtime round.  The runoff is set for Dec. 14. view article arw