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Communities In Schools on Thursday celebrated 31 years of bringing social services to students in Brazoria County and other Southeast Texas schools, but a recent budget crisis almost ended the program as school leaders know it, Executive Director Bob Garcia said. “In the time I have been associated with CIS, we have faced two extreme crisis situations that would have ended our programs,” Garcia said. view article arw

Now that we know the fields, let’s look for the fun. Monday was the filing deadline for the March primaries. Seems like we’ve got some potentially interesting/entertaining races. Hurray for us. Let’s see what’s going to be worth keeping an eye on.  Atop the list is the possibility that the Democrats could lose their own gubernatorial primary. Let me explain.  Ten candidates have filed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.  view article arw

Dr. Jim Largent has announced his Republican candidacy for State Representative, District 60. Currently the Superintendent of Granbury ISD, Largent is widely recognized for his civic and school leadership, and involvement in the community. Largent has been nominated for “Superintendent of the Year” honors four times and is Chairman-elect of the Granbury Chamber of Commerce.  “I am very concerned that too many politicians today are taking marching orders from powerful special interests and no longer represent the people who elected them. When politicians care more about pleasing a handful of wealthy elites than standing up for their districts, communities like ours lose our representation. I’m running to take it back,” said Largent. view article arw

Sen. Lindsey Graham is in a pivotal position to help craft a deal to help keep 800,000 young immigrants in this country. The South Carolina Republican enjoys unique access to President Donald Trump that virtually none of his colleagues share. He receives regular calls from Trump on his cell phone. On Sunday, Graham joined the president for a round of golf in Palm Beach, where immigration was the main topic of discussion. Graham downplayed his influence on the Commander-in-Chief, saying he was one of many lawmakers Trump regularly rings up for a “temperature check” on the news of the day. view article arw

Clint Bedsole is running for Texas House of Representatives District 106, a seat that is currently held by State Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco. Fallon announced earlier this year that he will be challenging incumbent Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, for State Senate District 30. view article arw

State Reps. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, and Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, joined The Texas Tribune Tuesday for a conversation on their Central Texas districts. Isaac recently stepped away from his state House seat to run for Congress and is now in the grips of a crowded Republican primary race that recently expanded to include Chip Roy, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Biedermann, a freshman state representative from Fredericksburg, has drawn attention this year for launching an anonymous Facebook campaign against a local parks bond and for polling Muslim constituents about whether they favor designating the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. view article arw

AMARILLO - A challenger to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick visited Amarillo this afternoon.  Scott Milder is a conservative businessman from North Texas who refers to himself as a rational Republican.  He is currently an executive with Stantec Architecture and the founder of the non-profit "Friends of Texas Public Schools."  Milder said he decided to run to keep public schools funded and avoid the much-debated vouchers.  "There is nowhere in Texas that is going to be hurt more by vouchers than schools in rural communities, because they are going to pull those dollars out and give them to charters, private school institutions, and in many rural communities, there are no private school options like that," said Milder. view article arw

Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd) seems to enjoy what he's doing in Austin. A rookie state representative, Bailes recently filed to seek re-election to the Texas House in District 18. The district covers Walker, San Jacinto and Liberty counties.  “It is my honor to serve as your state representative,” Bailes said in a prepared statement. “You have trusted me to be your voice in Austin and have held me accountable to make sure your needs are heard and addressed. While we achieved many conservative accomplishments this past session, there is still much work that must be done, especially when it comes to property tax reform and public school finance reform.”  Fiercely independent, and not beholden to outside interests, Bailes says he has held firm to his conservative beliefs while serving in the Texas Legislature.  view article arw

Dr. Shirley J. (Neeley) Richardson, former Commissioner of Education (2004 to 2007) and retired superintendent of Galena Park ISD (1995 to 2004) has endorsed Scott Milder for Lieutenant Governor with a plea to current and retired public school employees “to act boldly, courageously, for all Texas school children.” “We could become a strong, professional, well respected political voice to improve public school funding, the Teachers Retirement System, drive out fear in our profession, stop unfunded mandates, restore faith in our public schools through solid, data driven facts, and so much more,” Dr. Richardson says. view article arw

For the first time in a decade, state Rep. John Smithee, an Amarillo Republican, will have an opponent when he runs for re-election to the Texas Legislature next year.  Mike Purcell, a retired public school educator who lives in Amarillo, has filed paperwork to seek the Democratic nomination for House District 86. The district includes Dallam, Hartley, Oldham, Deaf Smith, Randall and Parmer counties. view article arw

The U.S. Senate this month did what the conservative Texas Legislature couldn’t do earlier this year: pass legislation expanding what proponents call private school choice.  U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tacked on to the Senate’s version of the tax overhaul bill a provision that would allow parents to use college savings accounts called 529 plans, which aren’t taxed, to pay for expenses for kindergarten through 12th grade, including private school tuition and home school costs. The House version has a similar provision, but it allows an account to be opened before a child is born and doesn’t include home schooling expenses.  House and Senate negotiators will hash out differences in the bills before sending a compromise to President Donald Trump’s desk. view article arw

The following was sent to a Superintendent friend of mine in Southeast Texas (Northeast of Houston). My friend on his personal Facebook page, independent of his job has posted several times in support of Scott Milder, a Texas Republican running against Lt. Dan Patrick. Mr. Milder believes that Lt. Dan’s leadership, or lack of, is bad for this state. view article arw

At a Texas Tribune event Thursday morning, Scott Milder — a public education advocate and a Republican challenging Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in next year’s primary — readily named the Texas-sized problems he blames on Patrick. view article arw

Senate leaders warned Tuesday that Hurricane Harvey could put a billion-dollar hole in Texas' budget, a growing number that could affect how much money is available for other state programs. "Our state costs are escalating," Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, told her committee at a public hearing on the status of hurricane-recovery efforts. "We need to be judicious" in how state money continues to be spent. view article arw

Jared Patterson has announced his run for Texas House District 106, a seat that is currently held by State Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco. Fallon announced this fall that he will be challenging incumbent Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, for State Senate District 30. view article arw

When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick unveiled the list of endorsements for his re-election campaign in mid-October, it included 19 of Texas’ 20 State GOP Senators, as well as Gov. Abbott and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz & John Cornyn. Texas State Sen. Kel Seliger was the only Republican Senator noticeably absent. Lt. Gov. Patrick, also a Republican, is the Texas Senate’s presiding officer. Seliger has been a member of the Texas Senate since 2004. view article arw

Amid a growing scandal over sex assaults and lax security at Texas' five state-run youth detention centers, angry senators on Tuesday demanded immediate action to curb violence and restore order at the troubled centers. Members of the Senate Finance Committee hinted strongly they will look favorably at a proposal to shutter the state's secure juvenile lockups completely in favor of community-based treatment and rehabilitation centers, in what would be an historic shift away from remote campuses that once functioned like training schools for low-level delinquents. view article arw

Indivisible Houston along with Texas Organizing Project, Tax March Houston, Pantsuit Republic and Houston Handmaids, rallied outside Ted Cruz's office on Monday, Nov. 27, as part of a National Day of Action protesting the recent Senate tax bill. Republicans revealed the $1.5 trillion plan early November, which some groups say will produce a significant tax cut for corporations. Daniel Cohen, president of Indivisible Houston, said the organization and other supporters against the tax bill have been fighting for months. view article arw

Incumbency certainly has its benefits, but warding off primary opponents isn’t one for freshman state Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen. On March 6, Cosper will face Salado veterinarian Brad Buckley and Army veteran Larry Smith of Killeen, who ran for the House District 54 seat in 2016 and lost, in the Republican primary. No Democrat has indicated they will run. “Seniority is important as you go forward as far as the level of efficiency and the opportunity to get your bills passed, (and) that improves your opinion,” said Cosper, a former mayor of Killeen. “I think it’s a very different race from what we saw last time.” view article arw

School voucher programs need (at least) three key ingredients: 1. Multiple schools (don't roll your eyes, city dwellers, this one's a brick wall for many rural parents). 2. A system that makes private schools affordable for low-income parents. Choice isn't choice if it's only the rich who get to choose. 3. And transparency, so that a child's caregiver can review the options and make an informed choice. This story is about that last ingredient. view article arw

We knew Texas' funding of its schools was lacking, but a new study this week suggests it's even worse than we thought. Texas is spending fewer dollars per student — 16 percent less — than it did in 2008, according to the Washington-based think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That's the sixth-biggest decline in state spending in the country. view article arw

Amber Pearce, a Republican Blanco County resident, and Wimberley ISD trustee Ken Strange announced their candidacies for state House of Representatives District 45 this week. From Cypress Mill, Pearce co-owns a Blanco County oil and gas business with her husband, Brooks Pearce, and is a mother of five. She said in a news release she wants to bring a “fresh, outside conservative voice to Austin.” view article arw

A self-described political “rookie” and “huge” supporter of Donald Trump from North Richland Hills announced Thursday he will join the field of GOP candidates challenging Texas Republican Ted Cruz in the March primary. “I’m a huge Trump supporter and I plan to support Trump’s America First agenda,” said Thomas Dillingham, 43, a technology professional and father of three, who has worked for the Birdville school district. view article arw

Connie Prado, a longtime trustee for the South San Antonio Independent School District and a longtime Democrat, said she plans to run for state representative as an independent, bypassing the party primary in challenging Rep. Philip Cortez for the House District 117 seat. The Texas Secretary of State’s office received Prado’s declaration of intent to run for the seat, an agency spokesman said Thursday. Getting on the November ballot next year also will require her to submit a petititon of voters in the House district. view article arw

On Tuesday, November 28, 2017, Drew Landry – Assistant Professor of Government at South Plains College – officially filed for candidacy in the race for Texas House of Representatives, District 83. He was surrounded by friends and supporters inside the Mahon Library on 9 the Street in Lubbock when he formally completed the filing. “This campaign is for every public-school student, teacher, superintendent, and school board member. They finally have a candidate who will advocate for them,” said Landry. view article arw

Joe Straus on Giving Up the Gavel

November 3008:30 AM
 

Republican state representative Joe Straus, of San Antonio, shocked the world of Texas politics in late October by announcing he would not seek reelection. A fiscal conservative, Straus first took office in the House in 2005, but he came to prominence in 2009, after legislators revolted against the iron-fisted rule of Speaker Tom Craddick. view article arw

Five years after he was first elected as state representative, Ed Thompson is hoping to continue his service in District 29. Last week, Thompson announced he would be seeking a fourth term in the Texas House. He said keeping an experienced veteran legislator is a wise move for the district’s voters. “I’m the longest serving house representative in District 29 with three terms going back to when the district was originally redrawn,” Thompson said. “One of the things you find in any legislative body is seniority does matter and it has opportunities you don’t have as a brand new legislator.”  view article arw

After more than two decades of serving her southern Dallas County district, Helen Giddings is retiring from the Texas House. The Democrat made her final decision Tuesday. "After much prayer, combined with careful and thoughtful deliberation with my family, I have decided not to seek re-election. This is obviously a difficult decision and one that tugs at my heart," Giddings said in a prepared statement. "I deeply appreciate the respect shown to me by elected officials, community leaders and friends in asking me to reconsider my decision. Although extremely difficult, respectfully, my decision remains the same." Giddings' term ends in January of 2019. It will complete 26 years as representative of House District 109. view article arw

State Rep. John Cyrier, who represents District 17, including Bastrop County, will seek another term in office after filing paperwork this month to enter the 2018 Republican primary. He said he hopes that with a second full term he can build on the work he has done so far while in office. “There are several ongoing issues affecting our communities that will continue to require strong leadership in the years to come. Having lived in the district for 17 years, I have a strong understanding and appreciation of the issues facing the people of rural Texas,” he said by email. view article arw

(AUSTIN, TX) — Friends of Texas Public Schools has announced that its founder, Scott Milder, has resigned as CEO and board member effective November 22, 2017. Mr. Milder’s resignation was accepted by the Board of Directors.  In his statement, Scott said, “Leslie and I started Friends of Texas Public Schools over 13 years ago because we were tired of the incessant, mean-spirited debate about our schools with little if any recognition for the great things that happen every day. Educators should be revered and respected as heroes serving our state and nation in the same light as our military and first responders. view article arw

Must be effective - js - A long-overdue war has broken out between the state's billion-dollar education establishment (Big Ed) and conservative state lawmakers who sometimes vote against Big Ed's wishes.  The battlefield is the ballot box. Organizers of the anti-tea party campaign set a goal of getting every school district employee in every district to register and vote in next year's Republican primary on March 6.  The movement is endorsed by the Texas Association of School Boards and many other pro-education groups. view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Scott Brister, Melissa Martin, Elvira Reyna, and Todd Williams to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance for terms at the pleasure of the Governor. Additionally, the Governor has named Brister chair of the commission. The commission is charged with developing recommendations for the legislature on public school funding and prepare a report to deliver by the end of 2018 to the governor and legislature of recommendations to improve the public school finance system. view article arw

Months after lawmakers repeatedly tried to pass a "bathroom bill" regulating which public restrooms transgender Texans are allowed to use, several Texas business leaders told a House committee Wednesday that such a law would be bad for Texas' economic future. The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, established by House Speaker Joe Straus following the special session this summer, is tasked with ensuring new business continues to come to Texas. The members heard testimony from business leaders including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, real estate developer Ross Perot Jr., Dallas Stars President and CEO Jim Lites and others on how different policies would impact their companies and the future of the state.   view article arw

Despite pleas from some school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, the state education commissioner told lawmakers on Tuesday that it will be difficult to delay student testing dates or suspend testing requirements altogether. Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the House Public Education Committee that he doesn’t have the authority to suspend State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness requirements and if he does, the state could lose out on federal funding, which makes up about 10 percent of the state’s education budget. He said that delaying STAAR testing dates could also create further difficulties for school districts, including pushing the last day of school further into the summer and affecting summer school schedules. view article arw

The state’s largest business organization released its rankings of Texas lawmakers. The report card was calculated based on the business impact of the votes recorded by each member of the Texas House and Senate. Twelve senators and 75 representatives “made the grade,” according to the Texas Association of Business. Only Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, received a 100 percent score. view article arw