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HB 2120 Introduced

February 2408:40 AM

Relating to school district hearings regarding complaints. view article arw

After last week's freeze, the Texas Legislature is back to work at the Capitol. Our focus on funding public schools fully and fairly is more important than ever. As you know, our Texas Constitution says in Article 7, Section 1: "A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools." Here are three ways we can fulfill our constitutional obligation: view article arw

This week has been historic in terms of the severity of the weather across the state. I am praying for the safety of our community and our state. Here are five things happening around your state: 1. Winter weather cripples Texas. A large winter system blew through Texas this week, dropping 6-8 inches of snow and ice in parts of the state and leaving millions without power for days at a time. Freezing temperatures coupled with water and snow on the roads led to iced-out conditions, impassable roads and multiple, lasting road closures. These conditions led to a shutdown of most businesses, including the state Legislature, which canceled all the scheduled hearings this week. Those hearings will be rescheduled at a later date. view article arw

From his first campaign for statewide office in 2014 to now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has never not been in legal trouble. And his problems are multiplying at a time when someone in his spot would ordinarily be dreaming and scheming about higher office. Paxton is fighting for his reputation on two fronts — in the courts, and in the court of public opinion. Still facing an indictment issued during his first year in statewide office, in 2015, he also stands accused by former top employees of misusing the AG’s office on behalf of a donor — a set of allegations that has already sparked civil lawsuits and, according to the Associated Press, a criminal investigation by the FBI. view article arw

From his first campaign for statewide office in 2014 to now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has never not been in legal trouble. And his problems are multiplying at a time when someone in his spot would ordinarily be dreaming and scheming about higher office. Paxton is fighting for his reputation on two fronts — in the courts, and in the court of public opinion. Still facing an indictment issued during his first year in statewide office, in 2015, he also stands accused by former top employees of misusing the AG’s office on behalf of a donor — a set of allegations that has already sparked civil lawsuits and, according to the Associated Press, a criminal investigation by the FBI. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas – On Wednesday, February 10, State Representative Hugh D. Shine (Temple) joint authored House Bill 1246. Filed by Gina Hinojosa (Austin), the bill was also joint authored by Sam Harless (Houston) and James Talarico (Round Rock). House Bill 1246 relates to the use of average enrollment for purposes of the public school finance system. If passed, HB 1246 would change the school funding system to be calculated based on the number of students enrolled. Currently, Texas school finance is calculated based on student average daily attendance. view article arw

Meagan Campos’ eldest child is a third-grader at Boone Elementary in the Austin Independent School District. This is the first year Charlotte will be required to take the state assessment, or STAAR, test. How that will happen during a pandemic is raising questions. Typically, students take the test during the course of the school day, with teachers acting as proctors. But Charlotte has been learning remotely, and the Texas Education Agency says students cannot take the assessment at home, if only their parents are monitoring them. So Campos is in a tricky position: Does Charlotte skip the test or does she go to school or a testing site, where she could potentially be exposed to COVID-19? view article arw

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Fighting for their constituents, Texas state representatives sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency Monday morning requesting a formal opt-out process for the STAAR exam. The effort was led by Rep. Diego Bernal, who represents District 123 in San Antonio. view article arw

Last Thursday, Speaker Phelan released the House committee assignments, and of the 34 standing committees, 14 chairs and 21 vice chairs are Black, Hispanic, or Asian-American. This is in stark contrast to the Senate, where for the first time in at least 25 years, not a single person of color is a chair of one of the 17 committees. Latinx, Black, and Asian populations are growing in total population in Texas and in the share of the electorate, but this is not translating to political power in the Texas Senate. The erasure of people of color from the chairs is on top of the recent Senate rules change that will prevent Democratic members — mostly elected in minority opportunity districts — from blocking a bill from coming to the floor under the newly created 5/9ths rule. view article arw

ABILENE, TEXAS (KTAB/KRBC)-Another historic day in the books for Abilene, the official opening of a new school building, a school that Texas House Rep. Stan Lambert graduated from in 1964. “This has been like a beacon set on a hill,” said Lambert. Lambert shared his favorite memories as a Taylor Trojan, and told students that they have a legacy to upkeep. “It’s not so much about the new buildings or technology it’s about these women and men that are teaching you each and every day,” said Lambert. Lambert says Taylor Elementary is the foundation for students learning. And he wants to protect their education, something he working toward this current legislative session. view article arw

The 2012 party primary elections in Texas were held May 29 instead of March 6 that year — the result of litigation over new political maps drawn to fit the 2010 census. Don’t be surprised if something like that happens in 2022, now that the U.S. Census Bureau has said its 2020 numbers, which will be used to draw new political maps, won’t be out until midsummer because of coronavirus-related delays. That late delivery, of numbers originally expected in April, could ripple through the map-making all the way into next year’s election calendar. view article arw

In prior Texas legislative sessions, state representative Jim Murphy relied heavily on his flash cards—each naming a legislator, detailing who they were, and including a photo—to form relationships with other lawmakers. But on January 12, the first day of the 2021 session, the Republican from Houston realized the tool would not be as valuable this year. On the floor, he couldn’t, for the life of him, put a name to the familiar legislator with striking brown eyes who had just said hello from behind her face mask—which he didn’t dare ask her to take off. As she kept speaking to him, Murphy slowly realized she was fourth-term Democrat Ina Minjarez from San Antonio, with a new, shorter hairstyle. “It’s very embarrassing because you are absolutely focusing on knowing who the members are,” Murphy told me later. “If you’ve already been used to someone because of their square jaw and their happy smile, that’s all gone.” view article arw

With assignments out, legislation that has been filed can be referred to committees for potential hearings. The committees overseeing public education, budget writing and redistricting are among those with new chairs.  Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan shook up the chamber’s committee leadership Thursday, signaling who his top lieutenants will be during his first session overseeing the lower chamber. State Rep. Greg Bonnen, a Friendswood Republican, will now oversee the budget-planning House Appropriations Committee, replacing state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake. Bonnen is brother to former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, who retired after one term at the post following a scandal over secretly recorded comments he made about other House members. In another move, Houston Democrat Harold Dutton will now chair the Public Education Committee. Dutton replaces state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the longtime chair who in 2019 helped pass massive reforms to the state’s school finance system. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday boasted of a state rising again after a year of unparalleled loss, and called on legislators to enact a raft of new conservative laws in an annual address that was at once hopeful and rife with partisan innuendo. “Texas remains the economic engine of America, the land of unmatched opportunity, and our comeback is already materialized,” he said, citing eight months of job growth after more than two million Texans filed for unemployment last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas House and Senate have released their base budgets for the 2022-23 biennium. The base budget is a proposal and outlines recommendations for how funds should be allocated during that time period for the state of Texas.    (03) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott designated five emergency items, which are matters the Legislature can vote on within the first 60 days of the session that began Jan. 12. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott will outline his priorities for the year — many of which focus on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — during the annual State of the State address Monday. Abbott’s speech begins at 7 p.m. and is expected to last about half an hour. It will be followed by a response from Texas Democrats, and a roundtable discussion with Texas journalists and a Republican and a Democrat, which will conclude at 8 p.m.  Abbott is expected to speak about COVID-19 vaccine distribution, reopening businesses that shut down because of the pandemic and public school funding.  view article arw

AUSTIN — Speaking at civic engagement conference, two speakers of the Texas House called for more civility in politics, following a tumultuous month that’s seen a riot at the U.S. Capitol and a second impeachment of President Donald Trump.  Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican who served as speaker from 2009 to 2019, said divisive political rhetoric had been building for a decade but had become more dangerous recently. view article arw

The Texas Legislature is supposed to meet for up to 140 days in every odd-numbered year, but lawmakers don’t have to work on each of those days — or even on most of them.  This year’s regular session started Jan. 12, the second Tuesday of the year. The Texas Senate met for two days, left town and then came back for one more day this week. The House worked for three days that first week and then also left town, returning for two days this week.    (29) view article arw

The Republican governor, who is up for reelection in 2022, and the state's best-known Democrat exchanged words Thursday after O'Rourke said he will consider challenging Abbott.  Gov. Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke butted heads Thursday after the Democratic former El Paso congressman said he would consider challenging the Republican incumbent for Texas' top elected post in 2022.  O'Rourke said during an El Paso radio interview earlier this week that a gubernatorial bid is "something I'm going to think about." The comment began receiving wide attention after the Houston Chronicle wrote it up Thursday morning, and during an unrelated news conference hours later in Odessa, Abbott fielded a reporter's question about a potential O'Rourke challenge. view article arw

CLAY COUNTY(KFDX KJTL) — The Texas Workforce Commission held a job fair in Henrietta hoping to help residents who may have lost their job during the pandemic find work. Despite many businesses reopening normally after pandemic closures, some businesses have still remained closed, shortened hours or have cut jobs. The number of people unemployed in Texas peaked in May of 2020 and in October saw that number dropped, leaving just over 968,000 Texans unemployed. view article arw

 Repost!  Good Podcast - js - In the latest episode of our podcast about the Texas Legislature, Evan Smith talks to state Sen. Larry Taylor, chair of the Senate Education Committee, about whether it’s possible to fully fund last session's school finance bill, learning loss, broadband access, the STAAR test and more.  In the latest episode of our podcast about the Texas Legislature, Evan Smith talks to state Sen. Larry Taylor, chair of the Senate Education Committee, about whether it’s possible to fully fund last session's school finance bill, learning loss, broadband access, the STAAR test and what he really thinks of Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.    (27) view article arw

The U.S. Census Bureau has again pushed back the release of the 2020 census results — a delay that will almost certainly force Texas lawmakers into legislative overtime this summer to redraw the state’s political maps. During an online presentation Wednesday, a bureau official revealed that the population numbers that determine how many congressional seats are apportioned to each state are expected to be released by April 30. The bureau has not finalized a timeline for the release of more detailed census results lawmakers need to actually redraw districts so they’re roughly equal in population, but the data likely won’t be available until after July.    (28) view article arw

The Texas legislature meets biannually and is now in session. Here are three bills worth watching…… view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott will give a State of the State speech next week, an occasion where governors can declare “emergency items” for early legislative consideration. It would be hard to top the emergencies already on the agenda.  The Texas Legislature is not short of emergencies that need attention, but Gov. Greg Abbott, who is giving his biennial State of the State speech next Monday, might have some ideas about that. It’s customary for Texas governors to give this address early in every legislative session. It’s a time for governors to tell lawmakers how things are going and how they think things ought to be going. view article arw

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa said it's time to change how Texas schools get funded to protect education systems.  AUSTIN, Texas — School funding has been at the center of the COVID-19 education conversation, and state representative and previous AISD Board of Trustees President Gina Hinojosa is now trying to make sure it's easier for schools to get the money they need.  Hinojosa recently filed House Bill 1246 to fund schools based on enrollment not attendance. view article arw

As part of House Bill 3, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2019, the Texas Education Agency is requiring teachers and principals who serve kindergarten through third-grade students to participate in a reading academy. ccording to TEA’s website, the goal of this “teacher literacy achievement academy” is to increase participants’ knowledge to further implement practices and “positively impact student literacy achievement” throughout the state. This academy must be completed by the 2022-23 school year for a teacher to be “highly qualified” to teach those grade levels in the state. During Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Amarillo Independent School District Board of Trustees, the reading academies requirement from TEA permeated multiple decisions the board made, including the approval of the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, as well as the approval for a stipend if teachers choose to participate in the training for the reading academies during the summer.  view article arw

The Texas Legislature must step in and forbid cities from cutting their police budgets, Gov. Greg Abbott insisted Thursday, but he remained silent on calls for myriad changes to policing tactics or accountability that gained national momentum last year during protests against police brutality and racial injustice.  After hosting a roundtable discussion on public safety that included mostly law enforcement officials, Abbott laid out some of his public safety priorities for this year's legislative session at a press conference, saying that “Texas is a law-and-order state, and we are going to ensure that we keep it that way.”    (22) view article arw

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who famously used the power of his office to support fellow Republican Donald Trump and thwart the policies of his Democratic predecessor, vowed Wednesday to vigorously oppose an hours-old Biden administration he labeled as lawless.  While President Joe Biden was laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Paxton tweeted a message congratulating the new president, saying: "On Inauguration Day, I wish our country the best."  But Paxton immediately shifted tone, accusing Biden of preparing to embark on a spree of illegal activity. view article arw

The Montgomery ISD board of trustees has adopted a legislative platform for the 87th Texas Legislature—a first for the district, officials said. “Traditionally, Montgomery ISD has not necessarily been a proactive participant in engaging and talking about the needs of our district,” MISD Superintendent Heath Morrison said at a Jan. 19 board meeting. view article arw

Some Texas Republicans in Congress called for bipartisanship, but many others criticized Biden's early policy moves.  On the day Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris as the first woman of color to be vice president, Texas Republicans greeted the new administration with a mix of calls for bipartisanship and vows to vehemently oppose Biden’s agenda.  The state’s two Republican U.S. senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — and multiple members of the U.S. House were on hand to witness the transition of power. Six House Republicans representing Texas in Washington, D.C. confirmed to The Texas Tribune that they did not attend Biden’s inauguration due to a variety of reasons like dealing with family emergencies and COVID-19 safety concerns. No one stated that they stayed away to protest Biden’s election. view article arw

Trustees vote to end Ector contract

January 2108:25 AM

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees voted not to renew its contract with the Ector Success Academy Network. The vote at Tuesday’s meeting was 6-1 with trustee Carol Gregg dissenting. Minyard made the motion not to renew with trustee Steve Brown seconding. Assistant Superintendent of Student and School Support Alicia Syverson said reasons under board policy for not renewing the contract are: failure to meet student performance standards or other obligations; failure to meet generally accepted accounting standards for fiscal management, violation of any provision of the contract or applicable state or federal law; and other reason as determined by the board. view article arw

In May of 2019 the Texas Legislature passed the now historic House Bill 3 (HB 3) to address public school funding. The bill was enormous, with a fiscal note of $11.6 billion. A little over half of that went to public education ($6.5 billion) while the additional $5.1 billion went to property tax reform. Two weeks later the Governor signed the bill into law. view article arw

Some schools are electing to forgo live-streaming President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on Wednesday over concerns of potential violence that could be broadcast to into classrooms. In Dallas, some school districts are refraining from showing live footage in class as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in. The Keller Independent School District is allowing parents to excuse their children from watching the event, while in Plano, administrators have decided not to stream the ceremony, The Dallas Morning News reported.  view article arw

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – President-Elect Joe Biden announced Monday he has nominated San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten to the post of deputy secretary in the federal Department of Education.  Marten has been SDUSD superintendent since 2013. She got her start as a teacher and school-wide literacy specialist in the Poway Unified School District and has worked as an educator for 32 years, including 17 years as a teacher and stretches as principal and vice principal. view article arw