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The state commission tasked with recommending ways to overhaul k-12 education funding is close to issuing a final report to Texas lawmakers.  The commission met Tuesday to discuss a preliminary draft of the report.  The draft also recommends providing additional funding based on student performance — a suggestion some commission members found controversial. view article arw

Plano ISD is planning to follow the upcoming 86th Legislative Session with some outside help this year. During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Trisha Windham of local consulting firm The Davis Advocates briefed trustees on the plan for following new legislation connected to the district’s two main goals: school finance and property tax reform. view article arw

SAN ANGELO — The agency tonight and elect officials need to hear from our parents as far as the needs and concerns as so when the legislation meet in January whatever new legislation is passed it will benefit our kids here in San Angelo and West Texas,” David Walker said.Christoval ISD has been selected as one of the school districts that has S.T.E.M programing in their curriculum and has since seen tremendous success. view article arw

Texas’ top election official, Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, will leave his post effective Dec. 15. Pablos made the announcement Thursday that he will step aside after two years in office — a tenure he called “the opportunity of a lifetime.” With the 2018 midterm elections finished, he said, now is a good time “to begin the process of transitioning out of my position and passing the baton." The secretary of state is Texas' chief elections officer and a top adviser to the governor on issues related to the border. “I am proud to say that over the past two years, my office has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of all Texans through strengthening our international relationships, attracting investment, facilitating business growth and trade, protecting the solemn integrity of our elections system, and engaging more Texans in the electoral process," Pablos said in a statement. view article arw

You know that moment on some TV game shows when they throw open the curtain to show someone what they’ve won? That’s where we are in the 2018 political cycle.  For newly elected and re-elected Texans alike, it’s quite a package. Only trouble-seekers — a fair description of some people in politics — would call these prizes. view article arw

State of the Session: Budget Battles

December 1108:25 AM

It's the only bill state lawmakers are constitutionally required to pass each session. The debate over Texas’ next budget will officially begin Jan. 8, when lawmakers convene for the 86th Legislative session. Last time around, the governor signed off on a $217 billion budget. But lawmakers left gaps and will have to pass a supplemental budget when they return to plug those holes and to address additional costs from Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Comptroller, whose job it is to tell lawmakers how much money they can spend, has been cautiously optimistic about the budget outlook. view article arw

State Rep. Dan Flynn of Van wants to make sure that any Texas teacher who wants to display the Ten Commandments in his or her classroom may do so. That’s why he filed House Bill 307 that says school officials — particularly school board trustees — cannot prevent copies of those commandments from being posted “in a prominent location” in classrooms. “I think it’s a good idea,” said Flynn. “If a teacher wants to put it in her classroom, she should be able to do it just as if she wanted to put up Halloween, Thanksgiving or any other decorations. view article arw

The Texas House is in the middle of a reboot — a change in leadership and the general mix of things that only takes place about once a decade. House Speaker Joe Straus is leaving. State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, has collected enough promises from members of the House to succeed Straus in January, when the actual vote takes place. You can see people changing positions, rearranging their political stances for a fresh start. view article arw

Leaders from all levels of government in Central Texas, plus most of the area’s school districts, learned Wednesday that they could be in for budgetary hits if state lawmakers pass limits on local property tax increases without restructuring the state’s funding system for public education.  The symposium at the Austin Convention Center saw most of Austin City Council and Travis County’s Commissioners Court, plus current and recently elected state representatives and members of assorted local associations, gather for a series of presentations about the consequences of the state’s so-called “recapture” system, which redistributes school property tax funds from high-income areas to shore up state funding for education and other areas. view article arw

As state lawmakers prepare for the upcoming 86th legislative session to begin Jan. 8, local and statewide entities are prioritizing education items for consideration, including school safety, special education and funding needs. The Texas Education Agency has put forth two items for the upcoming session to improve education in the state: the Safe and Healthy Schools Initiative and Special Education Services Grants. view article arw

From marijuana legalization to gun regulations, education funding and everything in between, few stones were left unturned during the Texas Tribune’s discussion Tuesday with state Reps. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, and Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, as the pair prepare for another legislative session starting next month. The hourlong discussion at the Baylor Club moderated by Texas Tribune co-founder and CEO Evan Smith touched on a wide range of topics including climate change, constitutional carry, water rights and conservation, property taxes, public education finance and border security. view article arw

Being born and bred in Austin and (mostly) embracing the quirks of this great city, I was certainly appreciative of Vance Ginn's professed goal to help Keep Austin Weird. However, his proposal to achieve that goal creates fiscal policy that pits one Texas issue against another equally important issue, and could potentially harm both Austin and Texas. view article arw

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the state’s 86th legislative session will begin, and, for 140 days, Texas lawmakers will work to set the state’s budget for the next two years and address policies and laws in areas as diverse as transportation, border security, health care, and education. Even though the session doesn’t kick off until January, pre-filing of bills began in November, and, by noon of that first day, more than 400 bills had been filed. To give perspective of the enormity of the process, more than 6,600 bills were filed during the last legislative session. Sometimes, the work of legislators seems so far removed from our everyday lives, but the reality is the decisions made in Austin during the upcoming January-May timeframe impact all of us. view article arw

A lucky group of Pleasanton High School students attended the 15th Annual Student Legislative Session in Austin on Monday, November 12th. Each year this session is held by Texas State Representative Ryan Guillen, to educate young men and women on the inner workings of Texas government. This year Pleasanton High School sent top ranking sophomore, junior and senior students plus those interested in a career in politics. Each student was assigned to a position in government to hold at the session.  view article arw

The Texas Legislature’s strong allergy to tax increases might be abating — just as long as you don’t call them tax increases. They’re not saying so out loud — no point in riling up a price-sensitive electorate before the holidays, before the upcoming legislative session — or before lawmakers are ready to make their sales pitch. But the talk of school finance as a top legislative priority guarantees a conversation about taxes. While there are many great policy reasons to mess with that persistent and gnarly issue, the political motivation here is simple: Texas property owners have made it clear to their representatives that they want lower property taxes. view article arw

The Texas Legislature’s strong allergy to tax increases might be abating — just as long as you don’t call them tax increases. They’re not saying so out loud — no point in riling up a price-sensitive electorate before the holidays, before the upcoming legislative session — or before lawmakers are ready to make their sales pitch.  But the talk of school finance as a top legislative priority guarantees a conversation about taxes.  view article arw

"Analysis: All Texas politics is national" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. This time two years ago, America had just elected Donald Trump and Republicans in Texas were preparing for the 85th legislative session with visions of a conservative mandate dancing in their heads. view article arw

One of the biggest opponents of private school vouchers in the Texas Senate says the Nov. 6 election results show voters agree with him. State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said a key lesson from the midterms for Republicans should be to listen better to the people in their districts. He reminded the audience at a legislative preview forum in Austin that he was one of only two Republicans to vote against private school voucher legislation in the Texas Senate in 2017, and yet was easily re-elected. “I got 88 percent voter feedback,” Seliger said, referring to his margin of victory — the highest of any Republican elected to the State Senate this year. Seliger in 2017 voted against a school voucher plan that would have allowed public school funding to be used to pay for children to attend private schools, a top priority of Senate Republican leaders in 2017. view article arw

As the next legislative session nears, the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees has created a set of priorities they want state leaders to focus on. School funding, local accountability and control, and redefined assessment are on the top of that list, and the board recently adopted a resolution that outlines the details of each priority. “It’s all tying back to our story,” said Amanda Simpson, CISD communications director. “We need to share our story with the Texas legislature, and we need to share the story of public education to a wider audience.” view article arw

With the election over, state representatives are focusing on how to make Texas better. Local representatives discussed their main priorities going forward into a new year at the State of the State Luncheon on Wednesday. All representatives say education is one of their priorities. view article arw

For the 10th year in a row, the number of Texas teachers accused of soliciting romantic relationships with students has increased, driven in part by a law adopted last year that has strengthened requirements to report such misconduct. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 1, the Texas Education Agency opened 429 cases of improper teacher-student relationships, a 42 percent increase from the previous year and the largest one-year jump in at least a decade. view article arw

Starting the conversation on property tax reform and overhauling the state’s school finance system, Gov. Greg Abbott has pitched a proposal that would cut property taxes for Austin homeowners while increasing state funding for public schools. What’s missing, however, is how to pay for it. Abbott would cap increases in school district property tax revenue at 2.5 percent per year. As property value grows in some areas, those school districts would need to decrease their tax rates, lowering bills for homeowners. view article arw

Voters elected several new people on Nov. 6 to represent them at the State Capitol. Most of them will take office when the legislature convenes in January. But, one new lawmaker is already at work. James Talarico took the oath of office on Tuesday.  His mother held the Bible as Speaker Joe Straus led the swearing-in ceremony. Talarico won a special election on Nov. 6 to fill the seat in Texas House District 52. The seat has been vacant since outgoing Representative Larry Gonzales resigned in June. view article arw

H.B. No. 403 By: Thompson of Harris

November 2708:30 AM

A bill to be entitled an act relating to training requirements for a member of the board of trustees and the superintendent of an independent school district regarding sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children. view article arw

The Chron does its thing one more time. Of the four names on the ballot [in the SD06 special election], two stand out as qualified and impressive candidates: state Rep. Carol Alvarado and state Rep. Ana Hernandez. We endorse Alvarado. view article arw

The latest federal grant of $88.4 million allotted for the Rio Grande Valley’s GEAR UP program was officially announced by local legislators. The announcement came out of Washington from the offices of U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville. “We need to ensure that every student, regardless of their economic background, is prepared to compete in a 21st century, competitive job market,” Cuellar said in a news release. “These programs provide academic assistance to low-income and disadvantaged students, ensuring that they have the resources they need to succeed.” view article arw

The Austin American-Statesman looks at the prospect for passing private-school voucher bills, and the verdict is that it’s not good. With stiff resistance in the Texas House, which has overwhelmingly rejected vouchers in the past, there never really was much momentum for vouchers anyway. Our Texas AFT President Louis Malfaro tells the Statesman:  “And where there were contested primary elections, almost categorically the Republicans who ran as friends of public education prevailed over those who said we need more school choice, we need more vouchers; so I don’t see appetite on either side of the aisle,” said Louis Malfaro, head of Texas American Federation of Teachers. view article arw

Like a billiard player calling his shot on the corner pocket, Rep. Dennis Bonnen has announced his top priority once he becomes speaker of the Texas House: “Fixing our broken school finance system.”  Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also cited school finance reform among the state’s most pressing needs as they congratulated Bonnen this month on locking up the votes for speaker’s election in January. Indeed, school finance was one of the only issues they called out specifically — a remarkable about-face for Patrick, who blocked a meaningful school finance reform bill in the Senate last session, and for Abbott, who was content last year to send the issue to another task force. view article arw


November 2608:30 AM

If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS tweets from the past week when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list. Segregated school success isn’t earned, it is gamed. (By @LYSNation) view article arw

Democrats in the Texas House were feeling good in the days after this year’s election. They had just picked up 12 seats in the lower chamber, chipping away at the GOP’s massive majority. And the caucus chair, state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, was working to organize members in hopes of swaying the race to become the next House speaker. But less than a week after Election Day, the speaker’s race ended before Democrats could find a candidate to coalesce behind. One by one, those in the race to replace the retiring Republican Joe Straus had dropped out.  view article arw


November 2008:40 AM

Members of the Texas House are handling the reality that state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, is poised to become the next speaker. Nearly half of the 67 Democrats who will serve in the House next year have signed on to support Bonnen. Other members, the Tribune’s Alex Samuels reports, are now wondering what a House with Bonnen at the helm could mean for them — and whether they should get on board with the idea.  view article arw

In the United States, we have long held that universal, free (that is, tax-supported) public education for youth is a fundamental responsibility of society and serves as a basic community resource, providing a pathway to understand democracy, exercise responsible citizenship, explore the world’s accumulated knowledge, appreciate American culture and prepare for a world of work in which we ultimately attain economic security. However, extending from the first taxpayer-supported school in 1639, attaining free public education for all children has been a bumpy evolution, fraught with issues of both race and religion. view article arw

Texas children lag behind their peers across the country in educational opportunities, access to health care and financial secruity, according to a report released Thursday. Ahead of the 2019 legislative session, the “State of Texas Children” report, compiled by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, recommends ways to close gaps in children’s opportunities based on race, ethnicity, gender and class. view article arw

The 2019 Texas Legislature must act on behalf of children in the state, or risk that they will fall further behind their peers in the rest of the United States, according to a new report from Austin's Center for Public Policy Priorities. The report also emphasizes the need for an accurate census in 2020 in order to ensure that kids in Texas receive all the help from federal funds to which they are entitled. Texas families with kids need all the help they can get, according to the report, because 20 percent of the state's 7.4 million children live below the federal poverty line. Black and Hispanic children are three times more likely to fall below the poverty line than white or Asian kids, and nearly 40 percent of all families headed by single mothers live in poverty. Despite gains made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 670,000 Texas kids still don't have health insurance. view article arw

Wanted: State funding for education

November 2008:35 AM

There is something missing in Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to fix school finance in Texas: state funding. This is a key ingredient because it’s hard to imagine school finance getting fixed if the state doesn’t provide appropriate funding for public education. That process starts with Abbott and other state leaders identifying funding sources for education. view article arw