Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on "school and community safety." The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of" the discussions. He said these ideas will help Texas lawmakers come up with new policy to stop gun violence.  view article arw

When was the last time Democrats filled a room in Gillespie County? I probably was not the only person wondering that when the curious squeezed into the Hill Country University Center H-E-B Community Room recently to hear Mike Collier, candidate for lieutenant governor. The turnout was heavy on educators and more than a few centrist Republicans. They heard a reasonable candidate who is running against sitting Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the November general election. view article arw

Advocates on both sides of the gun control debate met with Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday to talk about protecting Texas school kids. The conversation also included mental health experts. "The mental health to me is such an important component of all this, particularly early detection of a mental health issue," Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said ahead of Wednesday's meeting. view article arw

When children are murdered at school, the conversation gets candid, even with sensitive subjects. A magnified focus on student communication and parent involvement are just some of the many ideas that came pouring out of Gov. Greg Abbott’s round table discussions on shootings and school safety. Hays County Lt. Jeri Skrocki described the discussions as nonpolitical and constructive. view article arw

At the end of last summer’s special legislative session, an angry Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick vowed that the Texas House members who blocked his agenda — especially the so-called bathroom bill and a measure restricting property tax increases — “are going to have to explain that to the voters.”But in Tuesday’s runoff elections and in the March 6 primary, GOP voters overwhelmingly rejected candidates aligning themselves with the agenda Patrick pushed in the state Senate, which he leads, and instead chose business-backed centrist Republicans associated with retiring House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio. view article arw

The makeshift memorials were growing larger by the hour outside Santa Fe High School last Saturday, the balloons holding up valiantly while the floral bouquets were already beginning to wilt in the early summer heat. In the aftermath of the murder of eight students and two adults at the school by Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, the familiar yellow caution tape had been wrapped around the school's perimeter. On a weekend night, there were still some cars in the school parking lot, eerily unaccounted for. There were the usual blood drives and fundraisers for funeral expenses, and it seemed as if every church and bank sign in town was offering a single message: Pray for Santa Fe. view article arw

Less than a week after the Santa Fe school shooting in Southeast Texas left 10 dead, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday convened a roundtable school-safety and security discussion. “I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe,” Abbott said in a statement. “I ­look forward to hearing from all sides of the debate, and from expert perspectives on these issues.”  But Ed Scruggs, vice chairman of Texas Gun Sense, called for state leaders to take steps now. view article arw

Governor of Texas Greg Abbott is hosting a series of roundtable discussions this week as a response to the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe that left 10 dead and at least 13 injured last week and an administrator from Wylie ISD attended the first roundtable discussion on Tuesday. The roundtable discussion was a closed-door meeting where different entities brainstormed ideas to make sure that students and teachers are safe in schools in Texas. view article arw

 - Texas Governor Greg Abbott sought consensus on firearms in a second round of talks on preventing gun violence on campus on Wednesday and may look at “red flag laws” to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed by a judge to be danger to themselves or others. After last week’s fatal shooting of 10 people in a Houston-area high school, Abbott invited the Texas State Rifle Association, affiliated with the National Rifle Association, and Texas Gun Sense, which favours tighter gun laws, to join him in Austin, the state capital. view article arw

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Three roundtable discussions are planned for this week by Governor Abbott to talk about ways to prevent violence in schools.  One of the topics on the agenda is mental health solutions. This includes consideration of a program that started right here in the Hub City to help prevent school shootings in West Texas, the TWITR Project.  TWITR stands for Telemedicine, Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral.  The TWITR Project started back in 2014 with a grant to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Since then it has been used in schools across the South Plains. The goal of the project is to get kids the mental health treatment they need. view article arw

During his 10 years as a Republican state representative from Central Texas, Killeen veterinarian and rancher Jimmie Don Aycock, 71, gained prominence as a champion of public education. His legacy includes legislation to reduce the amount of testing required, enable academically troubled schools to more readily reform themselves and fix a creaky school finance system that no less than then-Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett described in 2016 as “byzantine.” The latter concern was particularly frustrating for Aycock, who in 2015 crafted a bipartisan House bill to add $3 billion to the budget to more adequately and equitably fund public schools. The bill was withdrawn in the session’s final days because of opposition in the Texas Senate. view article arw

The job of a teacher is not all that different than the job of a brain surgeon. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath made this comparison at a recent meeting with the editorial board as a way of challenging us to think about the complexity of a teacher’s job. When teachers assume control of their classrooms, they’re not responsible for one brain but for 30. And by the way, their charges are awake and giving feedback throughout the day. Yet, teachers don’t get the respect they deserve. The old saw — “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” — is just plain wrong. Research shows that effective teachers produce as much as five times the learning gains as the least effective teachers. Our society is slow to applaud these excellent teachers’ efforts and quick to blame educators for problems over which they can have no control such as student poverty. view article arw

The Texas primary runoff election is today and many of you will have an opportunity to vote for supporters of public education. Here are the Texas AFT endorsed candidates in runoffs. (You can click the “area” links to see a district map, or you can check out who represents you here.) view article arw

Republicans in Texas House runoffs Tuesday are wallowing in money. From eight days before the March primary to Saturday, the 14 GOP hopefuls vying for seven seats collected more than $3.5 million. The average haul over those 10 weeks and five days was just north of a quarter million — $252,915, according to candidates' finance reports to the Texas Ethics Commission this week. view article arw

Tensions between many Texas cities and counties and Gov. Greg Abbott over the use of the state's $11 billion rainy day fund to pay for costs associated with Hurricane Harvey resurfaced Wednesday after a group of local officials sent a letter to the governor asking for money. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who was among the nearly 60 leaders of communities hit hard by Harvey who sent the letter to Abbott, said Wednesday that it wasn't intended to be antagonistic toward the governor but to highlight that many local governments need help. The letter sent Tuesday asked that Abbott tap the fund to help match federal grants that can be used on flood mitigation projects. view article arw

Our Houston Federation of Teachers president, Zeph Capo, penned an opinion piece for today’s Houston Chronicle that references the teacher walkouts nationwide (with yet another occurring today in North Carolina​) and asks how long educators will tolerate inadequate funding and its impacts on our schools in Texas. Here’s piece reprinted in entirety: view article arw

Next Thursday, May 24, Mike Collier, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, will be in San Angelo to discuss school finance reform and rising property taxes — the two most important issues facing Texas voters Nov. 6 as we determine the leadership of our state.  Mike will speak at Fuentes Restaurant at 7 p.m. that day. Let’s show John Fuentes we appreciate his willingness to host us by coming at 6 p.m. to eat dinner (Mike will be there to visit) and then listen to Mike. You can judge for yourself whether he makes sense. view article arw

The best political leaders are those who serve as an example of honesty and integrity — not only to the people they represent but to the public in general and to other politicians and political leaders. Because Republican lawmaker Joe Straus, who has served as Texas House speaker since 2009, decided against seeking re-election this year, the race is on as to who will wield the gavel when the Legislature convenes next January. view article arw

Early voting for the May 22 Primary Runoff Elections will take place from Monday, May 14 to Friday, May 18. During that period, Harris County voters may vote at any of the 46 polling locations throughout the county. Polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm. view article arw

From Jacquelyn Callanen’s perch in the Bexar County elections office, the period following Texas’ voter registration deadlines is best described as a paper tsunami.  Some of it arrives by mail. Some stacks are delivered by volunteer voter registrars. The secretary of state’s office sends over a handful of boxes filled to the brim.  No matter the carrier, last-minute drives to register people by the 30-day deadline ahead of each election typically leave local elections offices with a surge of work. To make sure prospective voters make it onto the rolls in time for Election Day, county offices have to hire temporary workers to help thumb through and process tens of thousands of voter registration cards and applications. view article arw

Early voting for the May 22 primary election runoffs runs May 14-18. Check your county elections website for locations and hours. Voters who cast their ballots in a party's primary election in March must vote in the same party's primary runoff. Voters who did not vote in the primary at all in March can cast their ballot in the runoff elections of either party. read more arw

Monday marks the start of a five-day period of early voting for the May 22 primary runoffs, with Democratic and Republican voters returning to the polls to determine who advances to November’s general elections in a number of statewide and local races.  One million Democrats cast ballots in the Texas primaries on March 6, a significant jump from the approximately 560,000 who voted in the 2014 Democratic primaries. But the total number of Texas Republicans casting votes was still bigger in both primaries – 1.5 million this past March, and 1.3 million in 2014. view article arw

As a state, we are required to provide a free, appropriate public education for all students, regardless of ability. Not doing so would make Texas the target of various intervention mechanisms in our country, as evidenced by the recent action by the U.S. Department of Education regarding the 8.5 percent cap on special education enrollment encouraged by state policies. We fund public education; and therefore, we fund special education.  Time and time again, the conversation of adequacy arises in the crafting of legislation, appropriations and policies that affect the financing of public education.  Is this enough? Is this enough to buy us time between court cases or federal intervention? Is this enough to get by? view article arw

AUSTIN — Republican big shots, current and past, are choosing sides in a ferocious Texas House runoff with early voting beginning Monday.  In the four-county district, stretching from Hillsboro in the west to Palestine in the east, the big names — Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry — are for Thomas McNutt, the candidate most critical of retiring Speaker Joe Straus. view article arw

The coming race for speaker of the Texas House will be decided by novices. Most of the 150 members of the House — more than two-thirds, in fact — have never elected a new speaker. And only a half dozen of them were around the last time the race for speaker didn’t feature an incumbent. They’ll all be experts in just a few months. House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, announced last October that he won’t seek a sixth term. Four members have officially joined the race to succeed him. More legislators are exploring the possibility, feeling out their colleagues — the voters — for signs of support before they jump in. view article arw

Teacher appreciation week has finally arrived, and for most teachers this is a welcome celebration of their efforts near the end of their school year. However, this year’s observance was preceded by several walkout and/or strikes in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona. There seems to be an intensifying debate among our elected officials over the priorities surrounding public education in America. Still, many are asking themselves: “Why are teachers doing this?” It’s difficult to say without being on the ground in each of these places, but first and foremost, teachers have grown weary of trying to educate students without suitable resources. This isn’t just about pay. Teachers have outdated materials, aging facilities, increased demands of testing accountability, and they are tired of the “business as usual” attitude. They want change in how we allocate funds for education --statewide and nationally. view article arw

This is a group of interviews of citizens wanting good public schools. view article arw

On Friday, the Texas Tribune hosted a conversation on school finance with four education leaders, state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, state Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, Nicole Conley Johnson, the Austin Independent School District's chief financial officer, and Todd Williams, the education policy advisor to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Here are some highlights: view article arw

Apparently, Texas leaders don't want you to vote.  They certainly don't make it easy.  That conclusion is derived from how difficult the electoral process has become in the Lone Star State, where voter participation is among the worst in the nation.  Let's set aside the voter suppression that results from voter ID laws or rigid rules that don't allow for same-day voter registration or online voting — all moves that would increase turnout.  Texas lawmakers have developed or allowed a system with near-nonstop election seasons that confuse voters and keep folks away from the polls. view article arw

What might the TEA do with HISD?  They have some options, the best of which is probably to put the decision off for a year.  A.J. Crabill knows what it’s like to close schools.  In 2010, Crabill, then a 30-year-old member of the Kansas City, Missouri, school board, cast a deciding vote to shutter nearly half of the district’s schools, devastating some members of the community. Eight years later, Crabill is the deputy commissioner of governance for the Texas Education Agency, and he and his boss, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, likely will face a similar quandary with Houston ISD. A new state law is expected to force the agency to shut down several chronically underperforming schools or replace the district’s locally elected school board — with either choice inciting anger across Houston. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick likes to say Texas dedicates 52 percent of its budget to education, but ... not only is that a meaningless number, it’s also a historic low.  Adequately funding education costs whatever it costs. But historically, Texas has allocated much more of its budget to education. Back in 1998-99, Texas dedicated 61 percent of its budget to education, according to PolitiFact Texas, which crunched the numbers. view article arw

I’ll never forget the first time I voted. It was 1995, my senior year in high school. My government teacher Mr. Cyr instilled in me the importance of voting and being an educated voter. He, along with my grandfather, who always talked about the voting process, made it possible for me to understand why I was casting my ballot that year. I knew from these role models that if you don’t vote, you can’t make a difference, and you also can’t complain. It’s the one chance an individual has for his or her voice to be heard. view article arw

On Sunday, Democratic candidates running for office in Texas came together for the first time to answer questions from Latinx youth.  “We are the least likely to have health care in the state, we are the least likely to go to good schools,” said Cristina Tzintzun, founder and executive director of Jolt. “We are the least likely to graduate college. We are the most likely, among with our African-American brothers and sisters, to have the power of our voice and vote suppressed.”  Jolt Texas, an organization focused on giving Latinxs a voice in Texas politics, hosted the town hall to energize young Latinx voters ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The town hall participants included Miguel Suazo, Andrew White, Lupe Valdez and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rouke, D-El Paso, who spoke to a crowd of about 100 people.  view article arw

In the last presidential election — normally the high-water mark for turnout in any state — 9.0 million Texans voted, out of the 15.1 million who were registered to vote at that time. That’s just a touch under 60 percent.  You already know that voter turnout in Texas is, according to a recent report, worse than almost any place else. “Almost” means Hawaii. And if turnout is bad in big and noisy elections for president, imagine the numbers just ahead in the 34 party primary election runoffs on May 22 — or worse, in the just-called June 30 special election to replace Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold in Congress. view article arw

Amid efforts to prove Texas' embattled voter ID law is discriminatory, a federal appeals panel on Friday OK'd state lawmakers' efforts to rewrite the law last year to address faults previously identified by the courts. On a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s ruling that tossed out the state's revisions through Senate Bill 5. The lower court had said the changes did not absolve Texas lawmakers from responsibility for discriminating against voters of color when they crafted one of the nation’s strictest voter ID laws in 2011. view article arw