Kilgore ISD trustees were told Monday night that a recent settlement offer from plaintiffs in a longstanding lawsuit against the district was rejected and that the district will consult tonight with its attorney on the next step it should take. Axberg vs. Kilgore ISD, filed in September 2016 on behalf of Gregg County plaintiffs Darlene Axberg, John Axberg and Sheila Anderson, alleges the district improperly collected taxes after repealing its long-standing local option homestead exemption in 2015. The plaintiffs say the district’s repeal was a violation of what was at the time a newly passed school reform law. view article arw

FORT WORTH — U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey is about as restrained as Texans come, but in recent days he has unloaded his unvarnished thoughts on the Democratic presidential primary to practically any reporter he could find.  His message? U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ march to the party’s nomination will jeopardize Texas Democrats’ efforts to capture the state House of Representatives and a slew of U.S. House seats across the state.  “Bernie has no coattails,” said Veasey, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “It’s going to be Bernie and his cause taking the party down with him. view article arw

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) provided testimony today, Feb. 25, 2020, before the Senate Finance Committee. Among the topics discussed were the long-term facilities planning for TRS, including the recent decision made by the TRS Board of Trustees to continue leasing space at 816 Congress Avenue for its Investment Management Division (IMD) in lieu of moving into the Indeed Tower. The committee had already scheduled TRS to testify on a Senate interim charge relating to the agency’s investment responsibilities, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick added a discussion about the Indeed Tower lease to the Senate Finance Committee charge.  view article arw

Facing a $2.3 million budget deficit for the 2019-20 school year, Eanes ISD passed a resolution during a Feb. 25 board meeting for the option to seek a voter-approved tax rate election.  Administrators have often stated that House Bill 3, which passed in June, provided the EISD with significantly less financial assistance than its neighboring districts. For example, for every dollar EISD received, Lake Travis ISD received six, according to district information.   (02/27) view article arw

Though Bexar County has a record number of voters registered for the March 3 primary election, traffic at voting sites was slow during the first week of early voting.  Only 45,270 out of 1.13 million registered voters in Bexar County cast ballots in the first six days of early voting. That’s 4 percent of the county’s electorate, which is unusually low, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said at a Monday news conference. view article arw

MCALLEN — Less than six weeks out from primary day in Texas, Amanda Edwards, among the leading Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, made a campaign stop in the Rio Grande Valley, where she stressed at a small forum the importance of elevating new voices.  “We have to bring people to the table so that they’re not on the menu,” the former Houston City Council member said at the January event. “And one of the things that’s critically important is when we bring them to the table, then we have to deliver.” view article arw

AUSTIN – Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs today announced a new statewide initiative, "Ready. Check. Vote.," to educate Texas voters about what they need to bring to the polls when they cast their ballot. The campaign will utilize social media, paid advertising, and a grassroots tour to communicate to Texans the seven approved forms of photo identification and what to do if they do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these seven forms. In its 2019 session, the Texas Legislature appropriated funding to the Secretary of State’s office for this initiative.  (02/26) view article arw

n order to select a candidate to represent their party in the general election, the Republican and Democratic parties each hold state by state primaries and caucuses. Each state has different voting laws and procedures, but there are two main types of elections. view article arw

Early voting for the primary elections begins Tuesday in Texas. With 95% of eligible votersregistered to vote in Travis County — a record number — it’s likely more people will be heading to the polls this year than in the last election.  Texas has open primaries, which means voters don't register with a party ahead of an election. Instead, voters choose which party's ballot they want at their polling place. They can't, however, vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the same election.  Early voting runs from Feb. 18 until Feb. 28. Election Day is March 3. Here’s everything you need to know before you vote.   (02/18) view article arw

Friends of Texas Public Schools

February 1808:41 AM

As the spring semester settles in we are beginning to get close to “testing season." It is our hope that you remain a positive influence to those around you and make sure that, whether you do, or do not, like this time of year you stay true to doing what you do best and teach to make a difference in their lives. I also hope you will be an informed voter while upholding your civic duty to make a difference in our schools. There is a saying, “bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote." Please make sure you carry out one of the most important things you can do in our Democratic Republic, VOTE! view article arw

Primary elections are just around the corner with early voting from Feb. 18-28 and primary election day on March 3. State Representative candidates for District 127 include incumbent Dan Huberty and Dwight Ford, both running in the republican primary election. There is no democratic challenger for this district. view article arw

Most voters in Bexar County support using local sales taxes to fund aquifer protection, a prekindergarten program, and more-frequent VIA Metropolitan Transit service, but only 7 percent would prioritize funding mass transit over the other two programs, according to results of the first Bexar Facts/KSAT/Rivard Report Poll released Tuesday.  view article arw

Parents are passionate about their child’s education and school. This passion has been on display as Austin ISD (“AISD”) makes plans to close 4 well performing schools. Parents, taxpayers and stakeholders have voiced their frustrations and concerns to AISD’s Board of Trustees and Administration through many public meetings. No sane person would willingly subject themselves to the widespread public criticism and hostility that is associated with closing a public school. For AISD leaders, a “root canal” would have likely been more enjoyable. But one thing has been missing from the conversation, which is why is Austin ISD closing the schools. view article arw

Longtime state Rep. Harold Dutton is facing the most serious re-election test of his 35-year political career in an acrimonious primary against two Democratic opponents.  The race, which has generated few headlines but produced ample tension between the candidates, pits Dutton against Houston District B Councilman Jerry Davis and transportation logistics executive Richard Bonton. A fourth candidate, Natasha Ruiz, does not appear to have a campaign website and has yet to file any campaign finance reports.  Imperiling Dutton’s re-election is a well-funded challenge from Davis, who since 2012 has represented much of the same northeast Houston territory as Dutton, including Fifth Ward, Kashmere Gardens and Trinity/Houston Gardens. view article arw

An annual report from the Texas Education Agency on El Campo ISD shows improvement in STAAR scores and the special education program during the 2018 - 2019 school year as the district inches closer to state averages.  The school board reviewed the results of the TEA’s 2018 - 2019 Texas Academic Performance Report view article arw

Imagine a taxpayer funded school that denies enrollment to certain students and has the goal of maintaining a “solid wait list”. Imagine a taxpayer funded school that will only serve students in areas that are willing to provide substantial “private financial incentives”. Imagine a school with a growth strategy to serve enough students to create a core of community leaders to change the local public-school system. view article arw

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz visited the White House in December for a public discussion about school choice, and he pitched President Donald Trump face to face on legislation he has pushed for more than a year now with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.  “If and when we pass this, this will be the most significant federal civil rights victory of modern times,” Cruz said of the Education Freedom Scholarships the bill would create, providing billions of dollars in tax breaks for individuals and companies that donate to private school scholarship funds or help parents home-school their children. view article arw

LANDGRAF: Prioritizing school safety

February 0306:59 AM

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf  - Governor Greg Abbott's report on “Improving School Safety in Texas” details changes since the 2017-2018 school year, including that more than 10,000 school officials have been trained in mental health first aid, additional funds have gone to mental health services, and the state has seen a 325% increase in certified armed school staff.  As the state and nation debates why these tragedies seem to be on the rise, and what we can do to mitigate the causes, children across Texas need to wake up every day and go to a school that provides a safe e view article arw

A group of hardline grassroots activists has called on Patrick to be more outspoken on party priorities and worries that lines of communication appear to no longer be there.  In 2014, Dan Patrick’s mission to unseat the lieutenant governor of Texas brought him to Mike Openshaw’s dining room table in Plano, where the bright-eyed state senator hoped to convince several conservative activists in attendance that day to endorse him.   The North Texas Tea Party would not end up settling on a candidate, but Openshaw, a co-founder of the group, said he was already sold. He volunteered for the campaign and even served on an advisory committee for the candidate ahead of Patrick’s landslide victory in November. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republicans won handily a closely watched special election Tuesday to keep hold of a suburban Houston district that President Donald Trump won easily four years ago, fending off a national blitz by Democrats in a Texas legislative race. The victory by Republican Gary Gates, who put more than $1.5 million of his own money into his run for state House District 28, is sure to bring a sigh of relief for the GOP in a race that was being tracked far beyond Texas. By the final weeks, the race had escalated into the first big special election of 2020.   In final unofficial results, Gates polled 58% of the vote to 42% for Democrat Eliz Markowitz. view article arw

AUSTIN - Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs today reminded Texans to make the necessary preparations to be able to cast their vote in the upcoming March 3rd primary election. Secretary Hughs encouraged all eligible Texas voters to ensure they are registered to vote in their county of residence, and are aware of what they need to bring to the polls in order to cast a ballot. The Secretary also urged voters to contact their respective county elections office to view a sample ballot, locate their appropriate polling location, and plan their trip to the polls.   read more arw

Few social conservatives in Texas can equal Ken Mercer, District 5’s elected representative on the State Board of Education, when it comes to embracing disinformation and fake news as fact.  Mercer is a former Republican state representative elected in 2006 to the SBOE to represent a district that includes the northern and eastern portions of Bexar County. Even when he learns he is spreading lies, he stops short of undoing the damage. That was most recently evident in a Jan. 20 commentary titled “First the Christmas Tree, then the Cenotaph, and now a Statue to Santa Anna” that Mercer published on the right-wing Education Views website.  view article arw

The winner of the special election underway in Fort Bend County might never take a legislative vote. But House District 28 is an important battleground for Democrats and Republicans fighting over suburban Texas.  The political parties are running an early test of the state’s changing politics in Fort Bend County right now, trying to find out if the purpling trends of 2018 are persistent enough to elect a Democrat in what has been a reliably Republican Texas House district. view article arw

The lieutenant governor said Thursday he may decrease the threshold to a simple majority if Republicans lose one or two seats in November.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Thursday the Texas Senate may further lower the threshold required to bring bills to the floor if Republicans lose one or two seats in November.  Patrick made the comment at a conservative policy conference in Austin while discussing the current makeup of the upper chamber, which has 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Currently, 19 votes are required to put legislation on the floor for passage. But Republicans are facing the real possibility of losing at least one caucus member in 2020. Sen. Pete Flores, R-Pleasanton, is running for reelection in a historically Democratic district after winning his seat in a 2018 special election upset. view article arw

A group of students at Killeen Independents School District's Career Center got a special visit from a local politician on Thursday. Congressman John Carter joined students for lunch to discuss their plans after high school. view article arw

Top Texas lawmakers this year are proposing allocating billions of more dollars for public schools, but a portion of those dollars will likely have strings attached. And some education advocates worry the strings will lead to an even greater emphasis being placed on standardized tests in the state. In various appearances at press conferences and speeches in Austin last week, the state's top Republican leaders signaled their support for giving more money to school districts that show higher performance or agree to offer specific programs such as merit pay for teachers. One of their main messages: Schools do need more money, but they have to show they know how to use it wisely. view article arw

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