Claycomb Associates, Architects

House Bill 3: Improving Texas Education

September 1908:30 AM

The 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3, a sweeping and historic bipartisan education finance bill signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Since its passing, House Bill 3 has been the talk of the town by local representatives, school boards, educators and community members alike. It is a complex and monumental bill, restructuring financial aspects of Texas education. The bill can be broken down into four major policy areas: teacher support, improving student outcomes, increasing funding and reduction and reform of property taxes and recapture.  view article arw

It helps to remember that Michael Quinn Sullivan was on the outs with the Texas government’s top leaders when the legislative session ended in May.  The governor, lieutenant governor and speaker reached the end of the 20-week session with a checkmark in every box on their legislative to-do list. If they’d been any happier with the results, they’d have hired a marching band and held a parade. view article arw

Local attorney Mike Dixon delivered a piece of advice to McLennan County Commissioners and county employees on Tuesday: Don’t send text messages on the job. Talk instead.  Dixon said a new state law that became effective Sept. 1 puts more clout in laws that make job-related text messages, even those delivered after hours or with personal phones, subject to public scrutiny.  Dixon later said he was only half-joking about talking instead of texting but maintained that would be his preferred means of communication on the job. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Michael Quinn Sullivan, a hardline conservative activist long aligned with the head of the Texas Senate, publicly accused each other of "destroying" the Republican Party on Tuesday — seeming to further a rift that has emerged between the two longtime conservative allies.  The dust-up on Twitter started over gun rights, specifically Patrick's recent support of requiring background checks for private person-to-person gun sales — an idea Sullivan opposes. view article arw

Among dozens of changes included in a school finance reform bill Gov. Greg Abbott signed earlier this year, lawmakers included a provision that sends new money to school districts across the state and requires them to use it to expand their half-day prekindergarten classes to full-day.  But weeks into the new school year and months after Abbott signed the bill, the school districts that already had full-day pre-K classes still have it, and the districts that didn't have it before the bill was passed mostly still don't. view article arw

Reliance on property taxes, teachers not getting paid enough, the state not paying its fair share toward education, problems with standardized testing and deficient campus security systems across he state were some of the challenges the legislature tackled during the last session. State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, laid out the issues and solutions Thursday night during a State of Education Address: An Evening focused on Education in Ector County. view article arw

As the Bonnen turns

September 1308:40 AM

Drip, drip, drip... In the hours after hardline conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan exploded his political bombshell in late July — alleging House Speaker Dennis Bonnen wanted to target some of his own GOP members in 2020 — the lower chamber’s top Republican lawmaker made a series of phone calls to assure his flock that Sullivan was lying. view article arw

KYLE — Hemphill Elementary School teacher Jo Ann Zavala knew exactly how many students sat on the multicolored rug in her bilingual pre-K class last Thursday, because she had them count themselves that morning.  Many of the 17 wriggling 4-year-olds in Zavala's Hays Consolidated Independent School District classroom hesitated before bellowing each number, attempting to follow their teacher's lead. Zavala, a 23-year teaching veteran with a surprising amount of energy, knew that by the end of the school year, many would be able to recognize the numbers on their own, without her enthusiastic encouragement. view article arw

It’s encouraging when we can report that a good law is delivering on its intended results.  Such is the case with a Texas rule that banned out-ofschool suspensions for the state’s youngest students except in cases of bringing weapons or drugs to school.  A new report from the advocacy group Texans Care for Children shows that the number of pre-K through second grade kids kicked out of school dropped nearly 80% the first year the law was in effect, from 36,475 in 2015-2016 to 7,640 in 2017-2018. view article arw

For fiscal year 2019-20, Eanes ISD is looking at paying a slightly lower percentage of its tax revenue to the state than it did for FY 2018-19, but at least one district official said that will likely not be the case moving forward. According to EISD Superintendent Tom Leonard, more affluent districts such as his will still be paying more in Texas’ recapture system but could soon be hamstrung by tax revenue caps enacted this year. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 2, effectively curbing the property tax revenue growth of local governments, municipalities and school districts. view article arw

Navigating the streets to the U.S. Supreme Court on a Sunday morning, veteran civil rights attorney Jose Garza was anxious.  It was the spring of 2018, and in two days the high court would consider whether Texas lawmakers had drawn political maps that purposefully undermined the voting strength of their state’s people of color.  Garza had made the walk several times before. Much of his career has been dedicated to dismantling Texas political structures that keep people of color out of power, taking down discriminatory gerrymanders and forcing change in local election systems.  view article arw

The local funding for San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA program has made all-day preschool possible for thousands of the city’s 4-year-olds. But the funding doesn’t go far enough to provide universal pre-k for all. view article arw

Lucio’s challengers

September 0908:15 AM

Will definitely want to keep an eye on this. This cycle, [Sen. Eddie] Lucio’s record will be dissected as two opponents—one a trial lawyer and daughter of a former Cameron County Democratic chair, and another a current State Board of Education member—take aim at this titan of Rio Grande Valley politics. Can they persuade the voters of Lucio’s district, which is 89 percent Hispanic with a 37 percent poverty rate, to reject the Texas Senate’s most conservative Democrat, or will the 73-year-old prevail again? view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued eight executive orders in response to last month’s mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa. “Texas must achieve several objectives to better protect our communities and our residents from mass shootings,” Abbott said in a statement. “I will continue to work expeditiously with the legislature on laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, while safeguarding the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Texans.” view article arw

Kronda Thimesch, a member of the Lewisville ISD board of trustees, announced Sept. 4 that she will run for election in 2020 as a Republican to represent District 65, which includes parts of Highland Village and Flower Mound, in the Texas House of Representatives. view article arw

The Texas Tribune is touring the state with a series of post-session events recapping the major policy debates of the 86th Texas Legislature and what they mean for different communities. Join us for a conversation about public education, taxes, immigration, health care, spending and other consequential matters with two legislators representing rural Texas districts — state Rep. Trent Ashby and state Sen. Robert Nichols. Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune, will moderate the conversation. view article arw

Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I never felt that this country was my home. We didn’t talk about voting or politics at our house. My parents focused on making sure my brother and I did well in school, because they saw education as the family’s pathway into belonging here in America. In college, I learned about systemic oppression and our nation’s legacy of policies that discriminate against marginalized groups. It was there that I saw the power of our vote as a young generation. I became a teacher to empower young people to take ownership of their right to belong, and to have a say in how their country is governed. view article arw

State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, filed legislation lifting what he called an "antiquated" ban on brass knuckles last session, which the governor signed in May. The key chain — with pointy blades for ears — could have cost Kyli Phillips, who was 21 and living in Dallas at the time, $4,000 in fines and a year of jail time if she had been convicted of the misdemeanor. In late July, lawyers dismissed the case against her and canceled an upcoming court date. view article arw

This Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways. Here's a sample of several that will impact Texans' lives: view article arw

When Jennifer Allen’s son Samuel got his driver’s license at age 18, she wasn’t concerned about him being behind the wheel, but she worried about how symptoms of his Asperger’s diagnosis might be interpreted by the police in a traffic stop.  People with Asperger’s – also known as mild or high-functioning autism – experience significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. If someone with Asperger’s were to be pulled over by law enforcement, his or her behavior could be seen as combative or defiant, Allen said. view article arw

For the third month in a row, the number of migrant children in Texas shelters decreased in August.  These shelters are where some unaccompanied minors go after leaving temporary U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities if officials cannot find U.S.-based sponsors to take them in. The shelters are run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and regulated by the state. view article arw

Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard led the discussion on the financial implications of House Bill 3 during an Aug. 27 meeting. According to him, many people have been trying to figure out what HB 3 will mean for the district. “Like most things in the life there’s some good, there’s some bad and there’s some ugly,” said Leonard. Residents could see a decrease in school property taxes as a result of HB 3, according to Leonard, who added residents under the age of 65 will likely pay less or an equal amount of property taxes when compared to 2018-19. view article arw

Check out our new voting tools!

August 2708:46 AM

We know how hard you work and we want to make sure voting doesn't become another chore on your list. Voting is empowering, fun, and a great way to model civic engagement for young people. We have updated the TEV website to make it easier for you to register, research, and vote!  view article arw

Gov. Bill Lee used his honeymoon with Tennessee’s legislature to steer a controversial education voucher proposal into the law books, but their relationship may be less cozy with a leadership change in the House of Representatives, even under a Republican supermajority.  A banking executive from Crossville in East Tennessee, Sexton has signaled he’ll use his gavel to set a different tone from his predecessor. After the majority caucus voted last month to support his ascendancy to the House’s top leadership job, Sexton promised he would never hand committee leaders “kill lists” of bills to snuff out, as Casada did. view article arw

On this week’s TribCast, Emily talks to Ross, Alexa, Alex and Neena about the biggest new state laws taking effect Sept. 1, a crisis facing indigent defense in Texas, the new Texas secretary of state and the latest from the presidential campaign trail. view article arw

Ruth Ruggero Hughs replaces David Whitley, who failed to receive Senate confirmation after his office questioned the voter eligibility of thousands of naturalized citizens.  After losing his last chief election officer over a botched review of the state’s voter rolls, Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday appointed a new secretary of state: Ruth Ruggero Hughs.  Ruggero Hughs is moving from the Texas Workforce Commission, which she has chaired since August 2018. She joins the secretary of state’s office nearly three months after Democratic senators blocked the confirmation of her predecessor, David Whitley, who questioned the voter registration of thousands of naturalized citizens. view article arw

While lawmakers never quite reached the $5,000 teacher raises they tried to sell the public on, local districts are doing what they can to ensure teachers are seeing their biggest raises in years. An analysis of data from local school districts shows that Smith County area districts are digging deep into local funds to ensure teachers are getting bigger pay bumps than usual. While most teachers will not see a salary increase of $5,000, most in the area will benefit from raises at least twice as large as those given in the past two years, if raises were given at all. view article arw

A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

SAN ANTONIO — Palmira Aguirre has seen her fair share of principals come and go during her 23-year tenure as a teacher at John F. Kennedy High School — including most of a year when there was no permanent principal at all.  The Edgewood Independent School District physics teacher used to feel ashamed telling people where she worked — a school district managed by a board so mired in personal conflict that they couldn't make crucial hires to lead their high schools or their school system.  "It's like a revolving door," said Aguirre, who heads her high school's parent-teacher association. "There's no stability at the upper level." view article arw

A statement released by his staff says Patrick was experiencing significant chest pain Thursday and was taken to a hospital. The statement says a doctor at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital performed a number of tests that were negative, but a final one showed a "dangerous heart blockage." view article arw

Talk about a mood swing. At the end of May, the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker were figuratively holding hands, reveling in the success of their plan to focus the Texas Legislature on school finance, property taxes and a handful of other issues.  At the end of July, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had gone from that heady celebration to the bottom of the barrel, trapped in a career-threatening mess of his own making, accused of conspiring with a political nemesis against 10 fellow Republican incumbents in the Texas House. view article arw

INTERNET ACCESS Sweeny ISD students who do not have internet service in their homes can benefit from a grant the district received from T-Mobile. The cellular provider will make HotSpots available for students to use at home that provide mobile internet access, board members learned Tuesday. SWEENY — The owner of an average-value home on Sweeny ISD will see their tax support for the district drop by almost $100 under the rate proposal put before trustees this week. view article arw

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate group that drafts “model policies” in collaboration with conservative state legislators, is holding its 46th annual meeting in Austin, Aug. 13th-16th, at the JW Marriott, Downtown. ALEC describes itself as “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.” That’s about one-half the story. The other half, as the Center for Media and Democracyhas reported, is that ALEC is a legislative bill-mill where “global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights.” view article arw

Outcry against high property taxes and recapture payments, along with a desire for quality education, were at the forefront of legislators’ minds this past session, elected officials say. Many lawmakers have expressed enthusiasm about the passage of House Bill 3, a massive school spending bill. But local school administrators are a little more apprehensive about the bill, expressing some reservations about what these changes could mean for their budgets for fiscal year 2019-20 and beyond. view article arw


August 1405:56 AM

MADISON – The Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause released a new report today detailing the profound influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Texas. The report comes as ALEC prepares to hold its Annual Meeting in Austin tomorrow, where legislators and corporate lobbyists will meet behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues view article arw