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

The state House Public Education Committee on Tuesday considered more than 30 bills aimed at making Texas public schools safer, including measures that would put more armed personnel on campuses and give districts money for sweeping security changes. The Legislature has made improving school safety a priority this session after 10 people, mostly students, were shot and killed at Santa Fe High School 10 months ago. The shooting spurred roundtable discussions and studies among policymakers, lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott in the immediate aftermath. “Out of that loss, we have an opportunity to devote ourselves and commit ourselves to seeing that their loss was not in vain and that future students, future teachers, future families in this state will, if at all possible, not have to experience what these individuals experienced,” said Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, during Tuesday’s hearing. view article arw

Property tax reform has been a top priority for Texas lawmakers from the start of the 86th legislative session. The early filing of identical, wide-reaching bills in the House and Senate in January—Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2—sparked debate on the topic and earned pushback from many local entities that could be affected by the proposals. The twin bills propose to lower the cap for local entities’ annual tax revenue growth from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and to improve efficiency and transparency in the tax system. The proposals were fast-tracked for debate in both chambers after Gov. Greg Abbott declared property tax an emergency item in February, and dozens of related bills have been filed in their wake. view article arw

Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller are back on the lesson plan after a vote by the Texas State Board of Education. The committee voted 12-2, with one abstention, on Tuesday to continue teaching students about Clinton in high school history classes, according to State Board of Education Director Debbie Ratcliffe. The board also voted to keep Keller on the curriculum. The vote reverses a September preliminary decision to cut the women, along with 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater and several other historical figures, from the required curriculum. The board said then that the change was intended to streamline the curriculum for its 5.4 million students at the recommendation of volunteer work groups. view article arw

The GOP enjoyed the strong support of young Texans in the 2000s, but that appears to be changing.  exas Republicans appear poised to once again sweep the Democrats in statewide elections, but they have lost the future, because they have lost the youth of Texas. The Republican loss might not play out in 2020 or even 2022. When it comes, though, when young Texans replace elderly Texans at the ballot box, state Republicans likely will find themselves wandering in the same political wilderness that has consumed the Democrats for the past two decades. I know this to be true, because I saw it happen to the Democrats. view article arw

School finance was the big-ticket item this legislative session, said Emett Alvarez, Victoria Democrats Club president. "Education should be important to everyone," Alvarez said. "We are all taxpayers and are affected by it one way or the other." The Victoria County Democratic Party will host its club meeting Tuesday at VeraCruz Restaurant, 3110 N. Navarro St. Guest speakers will be Dwight Harris, former president of the Victoria chapter of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, and Ray Thomas, who is running for chief justice of the 13th Court of Appeals. view article arw

Will there ever come a day when our state leaders and lawmakers want to make Texas as good a place for children as it is for business? The 85th legislative session didn't seem often inclined in that direction, particularly in matters related to educating the state's schoolchildren. A massive funding failure for prekindergarten students. The state Senate's defeatist response to a solid House attempt at school finance reform. Out-of-proportion talk about vouchers for those attending private schools. But let's not overlook a couple of bright spots. Thanks to skillful work by three North Texas lawmakers, the state's youngest learners should eventually get the gift of better-prepared teachers. view article arw

Back in March, James Dickey, then the chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, showed up at the state Capitol to testify in support of House Bill 1911 — a proposal known as constitutional carry, or the ability to carry firearms without a license. It was a top legislative priority for the state GOP, and Dickey brought a message tailored for the Republicans on the House panel considering it: Don't forget the platform. "The plank which said we should have constitutional carry scored a 95 percent approval rate, outscoring over 80 percent of the other planks in the option," Dickey said, referring to the party platform — a 26-page document outlining the party's positions that is approved by delegates to its biennial conventions. Constitutional carry, Dickey added, "is something very clearly wanted by the most active members of the Republican Party in Texas." view article arw

Contention over where transgender people use the restroom has clouded much of the 2017 legislative session and has expanded to cover other issues such as property tax policy and school finance as lawmakers push to complete their work by Monday. After Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick served notice that the scaled-back version of the so-called bathroom bill recently approved by the Texas House was a non-starter in the Senate, the upper chamber in the predawn hours Wednesday made an end-run effort to save the stronger measure that fell victim to legislative deadlines. But by the time the sun rose over the Capitol, it was clear that the House would kill the measure again. view article arw

An effort to overhaul the state’s beleaguered school finance system has been declared dead after the Texas Senate Education Committee’s chairman said Wednesday that he would not appoint conferees to negotiate with the House. “That deal is dead,” Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. Taylor’s remarks come after his counterpart in the House, Dan Huberty, R-Houston, gave a passionate speech in which he said he would not accept the Senate’s changes to House Bill 21 and would seek a conference committee with the Senate. view article arw

The Texas House has voted to allow concealed carry permit holders to have guns in their locked cars parked outside schools. Tentative approval came late Tuesday night as an amendment to an otherwise unrelated bill on school boards. Final House approval should come Wednesday. The state Senate already approved a full, bipartisan bill seeking to do virtually the same thing. A similar, full bill had died in the House without reaching a floor vote but now lives on as an amendment. view article arw

A standoff between the Texas House and Senate over vouchers killed a major school finance fix Wednesday. The House tried to pump $1.6 billion dollars more into public schools. The Senate didn't want that much and countered by tacking on their own priority. The author of the House Bill 21 rejected the changes made to it in the Senate, saying they don't go far enough. Last year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the system was barely constitutional. So the House approved pumping $1.6 billion additional dollars into it but that plan came out of the Senate reduced to $530 million. view article arw

Texas lawmakers have given final approval to a measure cracking down on inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. The bill requires principals and superintendents to report inappropriate teacher-student relationships or face jail time and fines up to $10,000. The teacher's family could also lose access to the teacher's pension. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared a key school funding bill dead Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" the House would refuse to go along with the Senate's plan to create a school voucher program for students with disabilities.  "Although Texas House leaders have been obstinate and closed-minded on this issue throughout this session, I was hopeful when we put this package together last week that we had found an opening that would break the logjam," Patrick said in a statement. "I simply did not believe they would vote against both disabled children and a substantial funding increase for public schools." view article arw