Michael Fripp of Carrollton asks: “How are school districts decided? How can you live in the city of Dallas, the county of Denton, but be in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district?”  His question was submitted as part of our Curious Texas project, which invites readers of The Dallas Morning News to participate in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists track down answers. view article arw

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew White on Wednesday proposed a $6.5 billion plan to tackle an "education emergency" in Texas, in part by expanding gambling in the state and redirecting the state's border security funding. White, who is locked in a primary runoff with former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, said his plan includes a $5,000 teacher pay raise, universal full-day pre-K and a $5,000 college scholarship for anyone who graduates from a public high school with a 3.0 GPA or better. It would be paid for by ending the state's $800 million, two-year commitment to border security, as well as allowing slot machines and table games at horse tracks and a "few destination resorts." The rest of the funding would come from closing a commercial property tax loophole that White has been campaigning against since launching his campaign.  view article arw

April 19, 2018 - 9 a.m. - Agenda - William B. Travis Building - Room 1-104  - 1701 N. Congress Ave., Austin, TX - The meeting will be webcast at: http://www.adminmonitor.com/tx/tea/ read more arw

AUSTIN, TX – Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos today convened the first Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC) meeting of 2018, his fourth since taking office, at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) state headquarters. Secretary Pablos began the meeting by discussing the importance of gathering critical input from border community stakeholders, including public and private sector leaders from Mexico, before adopting minutes from BTAC's December 6, 2017 meeting in Corpus Christi. The Committee then heard recommendations from Subcommittee chairs regarding the Texas-Mexico Border Strategic Transportation Blueprint, a framework for addressing issues on the Texas-Mexico border and serving trade corridor needs. view article arw

The Texas House Public Education Committee will meet at 1 p.m., Wednesday, April 18.   To monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee will also specifically include: HB 21 (school finance), HB 22 (school accountability), and SB 179 (cyberbullying).  The committee will also receive an update from TEA regarding issues related to Hurricane Harvey. view article arw

Sen. Ted Cruz spent Friday morning with kids in the Third Ward's Cuney Homes, even letting an adorable 3-year-old boy play with his tie. view article arw

One local educator recently got the ear of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on school safety issues in the wake of the shootings in Parkland, Florida. Last week, Danbury High School Assistant Principal Fallon Daniels was one of seven educators from schools across the country to meet with DeVos in Washington, D.C., to discuss the potential rollback of school discipline guidelines established under President Barack Obama. Critics have said those guidelines discourage schools from referring troubled students to law enforcement, but advocates argue they are designed to help curb higher rates of suspensions and expulsions for students of color. view article arw

Starting next month, young adults who did not pass the standardized test used in high schools from 2003 to 2013, but are still working hard to earn a diploma, will have a new opportunity to obtain a high school diploma. After years of frustration with the state's focus on high-stakes standardized testing that culminated in 15 exams required to get a high school diploma — a nationwide high — the Texas Legislature began responding to parent and student concerns about overreliance on these tests. In 2013, the Legislature reduced the number of State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams students must pass for a diploma, also known as End-Of-Course (EOC) exams, from 15 to five.  view article arw

State Representative Drew Darby received the Equity Center Champion for Children Award and the Texas Commission on Public School Finance continues to work on recommendations for changing the current system of financing Texas' public schools.  View the Equity Center Legislative Update below, and contact us with any questions or comments:    read more arw

The Texas Senate State Affairs Committee met on April 4 to discuss the state of public pension systems, including the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension plan and health care program, TRS-Care. Senators received testimony from the Executive Directors of several state agencies, as well as actuaries.  The Senate State Affairs Committee invited TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie and TRS Chief Health Care Officer Katrina Daniel to provide an update on the implementation of HB 3976, the TRS-Care reform legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session. view article arw

AUSTIN — Texas prides itself on economic competitiveness, but in 2017 it fell to fourth place in a ranking of top business states, landing outside the top two for the first time in 11 years.  In their interim report, members of a state House committee cited increased global competition, increased housing costs, outdated infrastructure and “certain actions taken by the 85th Legislature” — the so-called bathroom bill, for example — as reasons for the low ranking.  But to address an emerging mismatch between jobs and workers’ skills — another key problem the report identified — the committee said that Texas must address property tax issues by allocating more state funding to public education. view article arw

Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, has a knack for setting off firestorms wherever she goes. Her surprise visit to Dallas and Birdville school districts on Thursday was no exception. As soon as word got out about her planned visit to DISD's Dade Middle School,  protests were announced and some trustees decried her presence as little more than a photo op to fend off backlash of her admission on national TV that she intentionally hasn't visited struggling public schools. view article arw

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance met Thursday in Austin to examine property taxes and hear from a variety of stakeholders on how they’ve been impacted by the tax rates. This is part of a series of meetings the commission is holding throughout the year to develop and make recommendations on how to finance Texas’ public schools. view article arw

An Oklahoma lawmaker posted a Facebook Live video to give his opinions in response to the statewide teacher walkout, and it's stirring up controversy online. “It took us a year and a half to pass it. And now, they come into this House, they want to act this way. I’m not voting for another stinking measure when they are acting the way they are acting,” Rep. Kevin McDugle said in the video. view article arw

There are two main problems with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s recent proposal to aggressively invest the state’s rainy day fund. First, it’s not a solution to the state’s core budget challenges. It doesn’t produce nearly enough revenue to fill budget holes, much less avert a credit downgrade. Hegar recently warned lawmakers about a potential credit downgrade because of lingering unfunded liabilities. view article arw

Austin’s education lobby is pushing the narrative that public schools are underfunded and the state is to blame. Though imaginative, this account falls short in several ways. To begin, public schools have sufficient funding. In the 2015-16 school year alone, Texas school districts spent a total of $64.8 billion on 5.3 million schoolchildren. That level of expenditure has grown by more than $20 billion over the last 10 years despite only a modest increase in student enrollment. On a per pupil basis, there’s enough money in the system to spend $12,250 on every student. For the average classroom of 20 students, that yields almost $250,000 for every nine-month school year. Yet, most of us recognize that much of that money isn’t reaching the classroom. view article arw

We should shut down our public K-12 schools and publicly funded colleges because they are white elephants that cost more than they’re worth. That’s the conclusion of a new article in Reason magazine, a publication backed by right-wing donor-angels David and Charles Koch. The Koch Brothers donate lavishly to right-wing Texas politicians and so-called “think tanks.” Just how much, in the age of dark money, is hard to know. Let’s estimate the figure at, say, more than all the families of the average Texas public elementary school will earn and spend in a lifetime. That ought to be close. view article arw

Thousands of teachers marched Monday on state capitals in Oklahoma and Kentucky, shuttering schools and demanding that Republican-controlled legislatures vote to increase their pay. The demonstrations come on the heels of a nine-day strike in West Virginia, where teachers secured a 5 percent pay raise, and protests in Arizona last week, where teachers wore red and gathered at the state capital to demand a much larger 20 percent pay increase. view article arw

Governor Gregg Abbott announced his appointment of Representative Ron Simmons, a Republican from Carrollton, along with three other appointees to the Education Commission of the States on Monday. According to a release from Representative Simmons, the national compact commission is led by Commissioner of Texas Education Agency, and Abbott appoints the Texas delagation. view article arw

A Texas official has apologized after he called special education students "slow learners" and questioned whether it's worth spending public money on their education. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Scott Brister, chairman of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, expressed regret over his comment after meeting this week with the special education advocacy group Texans for Special Education Reform. view article arw

April 5, 2018 - 9 a.m. Agenda (PDF)  William B. Travis Building - Room 1-104  1701 N. Congress Ave., Austin, TX  The meetings will be webcast at: http://www.adminmonitor.com/tx/tea/   view article arw

AUSTIN – The U.S. Department of Education today announced that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) consolidated plan. Commissioner of Education Mike Morath issued the following statement in response to the plan’s approval: “In Texas, we are committed to ensuring every child is prepared for success in college, a career or the military. Our state plan reflects a commitment to reinforcing public education outcomes for more than five million schoolchildren while continuing to strengthen the economic future of Texas.” view article arw

SAN ANGELO, TX — State Rep. Drew Darby is a champion of public schools. Last year, in the height of the debate over the bathroom bill, Darby quipped, “I think out here in west Texas, we all know where to go to the bathroom.” The Bathroom Bill issue was obscuring what Darby thought was the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Public school financing. And fixing school financing, he said, was more immediately important than cultural issues. view article arw

Discovered by a security researcher last week, the files confirm that AggregateIQ, a British Columbia-based data firm, developed the technology Cambridge Analytica sold to clients for millions of dollars during the 2016 US presidential election. Hundreds if not thousands of pages of code, as well as detailed notes signed by AggregateIQ staff, wholly substantiate recent reports that Cambridge Analytica’s software platform was not its own creation.  What’s more, the files reveal that AggregateIQ—also known as “AIQ”—is the developer behind campaign apps created for Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as well as a Ukrainian steel magnate named Serhiy Taruta, head the country’s newly formed Osnova party. view article arw

The Texas economy has been turning in impressive results, winning major corporate locations and expansions and adding jobs at a notable pace. This success is no accident (though we do have substantial advantages to work with) but rather the result of decades of purposeful and strategic efforts to develop the economy in ways that enhance prosperity. Economic performance is essential to provide opportunity for Texans and the state’s businesses. Growth is also crucial to generating the tax revenue needed to fund everything from education to roads to social services. While past results have been impressive, they’re no guarantee of future expansion. Without careful attention, Texas will lose out over time to other areas and the pace of growth will suffer. view article arw

Those pesky teachers are at it again. First they balk at the idea of packing heat in their classrooms. Now they have the audacity to encourage each other to vote. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton apparently has some time on his hands, even though he’s fighting security fraud charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. His office has launched a fishing expedition against school administrators he suspects of “illegal electioneering.” view article arw

The United States ranking in education is more than a point of pride...it's a statistical indicator of our nation's future performance. Although we spend more local, state and federal money per student than any other country, in 2017, our results are in the middle of the pack. Recent initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math have made positive improvements, but is every student truly a candidate for college?  view article arw

Special education advocates are denouncing the chair of the state’s public school finance commission for calling special education students slow learners and questioning whether it’s worth spending public money educating such students. Scott Brister, chairman of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance, said his comments were taken out of context and said “of course” he believes state funding should be spent on special education students. view article arw

A spotlight fell on public schools across McLennan County last week, and not in the most flattering way. An awkward question about the multitude of local school districts arose during a long day of sometimes combative testimony before the Texas Commission on Public School Finance in Austin.  Question: How can the operation of no less than 20 public school districts in McLennan County be justified in fiscally prudent times as politicians cut taxes right and left and school boards, superintendents, teacher organizations and parent groups press lawmakers for more state money view article arw

There is a rising demographic force in North Texas — Indians, as in people from South Asia's largest country.  It soon will be the earth's most populous nation, home to one of about every six people.  In Dallas-Fort Worth as well as in the rest of Texas, political bloodhound Greg Abbott has the scent. The mostly well-educated, affluent Indians who have flocked in big numbers to upscale and in some cases downright ritzy suburbs of Dallas are breaking barriers, running for office and embracing assimilation into their adopted country.  Their participation in Texas communities is building a potential bloc of votes and political contributions that Abbott hopes to someday harvest.  "The Indian community in Texas is more Republican than the Republican Party in Texas," Abbott said as he flew into Mumbai on a nine-day trade mission Friday.  "They are genuine economic conservatives. They strongly believe in the free enterprise system and a governmental structure that supports that. And they are very strongly pro-family and pro-military. They're just very patriotic."  "The Indian community in Texas is more Republican than the Republican Party in Texas," Abbott said as he flew into Mumbai on a nine-day trade mission Friday. "They are genuine economic conservatives. They strongly believe in the free enterprise system and a governmental structure that supports that. And they are very strongly pro-family and pro-military. They're just very patriotic." view article arw

For the sake of equity, state law since the 1990s has required Texas school districts with lucrative property-tax bases to share revenue with the state to help balance funding for less fortunate districts. In 2018, according to the state, the so-called Robin Hood or "recapture" system resulted in 185 districts sending $2 billion to the state. In raw dollars, the biggest givers were the Austin, Houston and Plano districts; the Austin district’s contribution exceeded $544 million. view article arw

Senate Committee on Education

March 2607:51 AM

Monday, 03/26/2018 Time: 10:00 AM Locale: Capitol Extension, Room E1.028 - From AFT memo:  On March 26 the Senate Education Committee will look at compensation strategies and measures to elevate the teaching profession and attract, retain, and reward teachers. Also due to be discussed: current student-discipline mandates, best practices to reduce discipline issues and provide support to classroom teachers. Third topic of the day will be a review of efforts to eliminate the effects of the former state performance indicator arbitrarily capping enrollment in special education.  Live Video Feed read more arw

Business activism is bubbling up again. Last year, scores of Texas companies banded together to hold off a bathroom bill in Austin. More recently, employers in Dallas-Fort Worth formed a coalition to embrace “a culture of voting” and encourage workers to turn out for the March primary. Now there’s a push to tackle one of the state’s most important and vexing problems: public education and school finance. view article arw

It’s not “rocket surgery” to know that you have to figure out what something costs before you figure out how to pay for it. We’re borrowing that malapropism from Alief Independent School District Superintendent H.D. Chambers, who quoted a third-grader this week in his testimony at a commission hearing on school finance reform.Rather than fix a system the Texas Supreme Court famously labeled “byzantine” in 2016, the 85th Special Legislative Session punted and opted to appoint a state commission to study the issue. Again. view article arw

Special education advocates are denouncing the chair of the state’s public school finance commission for calling special education students slow learners and what they say was his questioning whether such students are worth educating.  Chairman of the Texas Commimssion on Public School Finance Scott Brister said his comments were taken out of context and he believes dollars should be spent to educate special education students. view article arw