University Woman Texas

Volume 75 l Issue 2 l October 2023

Message from the President

The Texas Senate unveiled on its first day of the third special session its main bill to establish an education savings account program, a priority for Gov. Greg Abbott this special session. Senate Bill 1, authored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, would allow families access to $8,000 of taxpayer money to pay for private schools and other educational expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, tutoring, or transportation among other things. “Educating the next generation of Texans is a fundamental responsibility, and it is my belief that empowering parents with school choice will encourage competition, innovation, and ensure that every student in Texas has the opportunity to find an educational path for their unique needs,” Creighton said in a statement. Creighton says that the program will not siphon money away from public schools as the funding comes from general revenue, not the Foundation School Program, which is the main source of funding for the state’s K-12 public schools.  


What is an education savings account?

Education savings accounts are a form of school vouchers, which gives families state money to pay for their children’s private education. They are essentially taxpayer-supported bank accounts for parents who remove their children from the public education system.


If their parents set up a savings account…

  • The student leaves public school and transfers to a private school, using money from the account to help pay for tuition.
  • Or, families could use the money to pay for expenses related to homeschooling, online schooling or private tutoring.


Public education advocates say vouchers would cost public schools!

Public schools get money based on the average number of students who attend the school every day. The state guarantees a base amount of $6,160 per student.


State funding: In the 2022-23 school year, the average Texas public school received $2.2 million from the state.

If the state establishes education savings accounts…

Parents who send their children to private schools or opt for other schooling options could gain access to state funds to pay for those expenses. During the regular session, one bill proposed giving parents up to $8,000 per student each year. If families decide to sign up for a savings account and not attend public school…

State funding: Because state funding is based on attendance, public schools would lose funding for each student that leaves. In the past supporters have suggested temporarily funding public schools to help with the shortfall.


Families with education savings accounts would be able to use that money to help pay for their children’s schooling costs. Taxpayer money would go to private schools, home schooling, or other educational expenses. So, even though the governor says that the educational savings accounts will not cost the public schools any money. This is not true.


Make your voices heard. Contact Texas House Democrats and rural House Republicans. They tend to be the ones opposed to vouchers. Texas House Democrats signaled their intent to once again stand against any kind of school voucher program. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters his group is “very clear: no vouchers and no deals.” “A voucher scam is a poison pill that will end up taking more out of our public schools than it puts in,” said Rep. James Talarico, D-Austin. Here are two recently quoted representatives you could contact for starters.

Get involved. In this newsletter, we have given you areas to get involved – teacher raises (which is tied into the vouchers), vouchers, book banning, and cost of living raising.    

Mary Smith

AAUW Texas President                               


AAUW BOARD MEETING – Thursday, November 9 – 4:30 p.m.


PROGRAM – Thursday, December 7 – 6:30 p.m.

Terry Whaley [email protected]

PUBLIC POLICY – Thursday, December 14 – 6:30 p.m.

Pat Rehm [email protected]

FUNDS – Tuesday, December 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Margie Poole [email protected]

MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE - Tuesday, December 12 – 6:30 p.m.

Sara Wood [email protected] and

Margaret Carlson [email protected]



The SHARE Committee has advanced the mission of AAUW in important, practical ways. How has the SHARE (Supporting Hardworking Affiliates Rising to Empower) grant program fulfilled its mission recently? First, grants were awarded to pay the registration fee for 8 students to participate in the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) held at the University of Maryland, College Park, on May 31-June 3. Three students were sponsored by the San Antonio branch and five from Texas A & M College Station. What a wonderful opportunity for young women to be inspired by program leaders and fellow students at AAUW’s leadership, advocacy, and equity event for college women.


Next, the AAUW Texas Board of Directors strongly encouraged members to participate in the Central States Regional conference to be held in St. Louis on October 19-21. Because AAUW National has discontinued national conferences, it is especially important to share ideas and information at regional conferences. To encourage “up and coming” members to attend, grants of $750 each were awarded to six branches (Lubbock, Dallas, Fort Bend County, Tarrant County, Northeast Tarrant County, and North Harris County) to defray part of the cost for a branch member to attend.. “Up and coming” criteria were: (1) one who has shown a strong interest in AAUW and exhibits potential leadership ability, (2) one who will benefit by more in-depth exposure to the traditional AAUW organization, and (3) one for whom conference participation will make an impact.  Then grants of $500 each were awarded to assist five “tried and true” members to attend the St. Louis conference, representing West Harris County (2 members), Northeast Tarrant County, North Harris County, and San Antonio. “Tried and true” criteria were: (1) one who would benefit by more in-depth exposure to the incredible organization that is AAUW, and (2) one who will pay the experience forward by sharing what they learned with the branch and with the community.

Finally, two Branch Project grants were awarded. The North Harris County branch received a grant for $500 in support of a candidate forum to be held October 24 featuring eleven candidates (7 women and 4 men) running to fill four seats on the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Board of Trustees. The Tarrant County branch received a grant of $1,500 in support of the Sister to Sister Summit to be held on October 28. The Branch established the first summit in 2002 for middle school girls. Now the Branch works with Texas Wesleyan University to provide the summit in which 175 middle school girls are expected to attend this year. The girls are from eight schools in three independent school districts.

The SHARE Committee and the Board of Directors are pleased to be able to support programs focused on the mission of AAUW. We look forward to feedback from participants. Next, we anticipate that applications for grants to pay the registration fee for college students to attend the 2024 NCCWSL conference will be sent to branches early next year when more information becomes available from national.

Status of Texas HB 900

On June 12 Governor Abbott signed HB 900 into law formalizing the READER (Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resource) Act which requires book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools. The standards by which this was to be done were vaguely articulated, and the law was set to go into effect on September 1, a seemingly impossible timeline. A coalition of Texas bookstores and national bookseller associations filed suit on July 25. Plaintiffs in the suit are two prominent Texas independent bookstores, Austin’s BookPeople and Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop, plus the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The Texas Tribune reported on August 31 that the plaintiffs were arguing “that the law violates their constitutional rights by targeting protected speech with its broad and vague language. The lawsuit further alleges HB 900 would force plaintiffs to comply with the government’s views, even if they do not agree with them, and that the law operates as prior restraint, which is government action that prohibits speech or other expression before the speech happens. The vendors say it is impossible for them to comply with the rating system because of the sheer volume of materials they would need to review.”

The lawsuit went to Waco-based U.S. District Judge Alan Albright who said in an order blocking its enforcement that the new state law is both unconstitutional and unduly burdensome on booksellers. In granting a preliminary injunction in favor of the book industry plaintiffs on September 18, Judge Albright also said the law is vague in defining "sexually explicit" content and violates the First Amendment's free speech guarantees. 

On September 25, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay as an administrative procedure in the HB 900 lawsuit. The state had appealed Judge Albright's preliminary injunction order that temporarily prevented the law from taking effect on September 1. As part of the state's appeal, they had asked the court for a stay pending appeal, or in the alternative, an administrative stay. The plaintiffs filed their brief in response to the state's appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court the next week. The court is expected to rule on the merits of the motion to stay the preliminary injunction in the coming weeks.

According to Wendy Woodland, the director of advocacy and communications for the Texas Library Association, “While this legal maneuvering makes things very unclear, our understanding at this time is that the state can implement HB 900. TSLAC [Texas State Library and Archives Commission] is planning to move forward with the collection development standards process. The commission will meet to approve draft standards to be posted in the Texas Register for a 30-day public comment period. A date for the commission meeting has not been announced at this time.”

FYI: “A weekly publication, the Texas Register serves as the journal of state agency rulemaking for Texas. Information published in the Texas Register includes proposed, adopted, withdrawn, and emergency rule actions, notices of state agency review of agency rules, governor's appointments, attorney general opinions, and miscellaneous documents such as requests for proposals. After adoption, these rulemaking actions are codified into the Texas Administrative Code. Issues are posted to the website no later than 5 p.m. on the publication day.” Click here to access the Texas Register.

                                                                                   By Mary Ellen Scribner, Austin Branch


Monday, October 23:

Early voting opens and lasts to

Friday, November 3

Friday, October 27:

Last day to vote by mail

Tuesday, November 7:



There are 14 propositions on the ballot at the state level. You may have more added at the local level. Are you looking for more information about the 14 propositions on the ballot? 

The Texas League of Women Voters has prepared videos explaining each of them. 

Here is the link to those videos.

Click Here

Fall Legislative Report  


The 88th Texas Legislature's Third Called Special Session began on October 9, 2023, and Governor Greg Abbott proclaimed four agenda priorities:

EDUCATION FREEDOM: Legislation providing education savings accounts for all Texas schoolchildren.


  • Legislation to do more to reduce illegal immigration by creating a criminal offense for illegal entry into this state from a foreign nation and authorizing all licensed peace officers to remove illegal immigrants from Texas.
  • Legislation to impede illegal entry into Texas by increasing the penalties for criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house.
  • Legislation to impede illegal entry into Texas by providing more funding for the construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure.

PUBLIC SAFETY: Legislation concerning public safety, security, environmental quality, and property ownership in areas like the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County, Texas.

ENDING COVID RESTRICTIONS: Legislation prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers.

On the first day, 115 House Bills and Senate Bills were filed, covering all agenda items on the call, as reported by HillCo Partners. A notable one is SB 2, a $5.2 billion school funding bill that would help district with rising costs, provide both teacher raises and more funding for school safety. Although teacher compensation is not on the Governor's list, it was included in several public hearings posted for the next day.

Also according to the Texas Tribune, dissension was evident within the GOP, particularly between Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, when Patrick called on Phelan to resign. In response, Phelan demanded that Patrick and other officials return their $3 million donation to the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, one related to white supremacist Nick Fuentes. As the Third Session continues, the AAUW Texas Advisory committee will keep you alerted regarding legislation related to our organization's priorities. 


November Election voting dates:  

                    Early Voting - Monday, Oct. 23 to Friday, Nov. 3;

                    Last day to register to vote - Tuesday, Oct. 10;

                    Last day to apply for a ballot-by mail - Friday, Oct. 27;

                    Election Day, November 7 – Polls to be open 7 AM- 7 PM


November Ballot Propositions which are AAUW mission-related for women and girls:      

**Proposition 2: Allowing local governments to exempt childcare facilities from property taxes.

**Proposition 4: Increasing the homestead tax exemption by a school district to $100,000 and increasing state funding for public education.

**Proposition 5: Renaming State University Research Fund from National Research University Fund and establishing an ongoing revenue source from the accrued interest of the Economic Stabilization Fund (the Rainy Day Fund.).

**Proposition 9: Authorizing the state legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to eligible annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

More information about the propositions on the ballot is available at this Texas League of Women Voters' link with videos explaining each of them:

Click Here


The next quarterly Zoom call for public policy will take place on Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 6:30 PM, and the link will be sent to interested state members at least a week early.  

Please contact Pat Rehm at [email protected] for more information on this event. 


Congratulations to Texas branches

on a great start to the new year!

Congratulations to Texas branches on a great start to the new year! Membership drives are proving successful, and branches are using the Shape the Future campaign to earn one free National membership for every two new members they sign up.

Now to pursue our next goal, membership retention. We want our new members to enjoy AAUW and stay with us year after year. How do we make that happen? Personal connections help everyone know they are valued. Many say that is one of the reasons they join, so let’s stay in touch with members. A phone call for event reminders, or to offer a ride to meetings, is appreciated as are cards with personal notes for celebrations or condolences.

Branch interest groups are another terrific way to help people develop relationships. Texas branches offer a variety of intriguing examples. Several have interest groups that enjoy dining out and mingling, such as Lubbock’s “Cuisine Group,” and Tyler’s” Ladies of the Evening” (LOTE). The “Byway Birders,” of West Harris County, is made up of women who enjoy birdwatching, North Harris County has a “Beginners Mah Jong” group and Tarrant County, has a “Women Writing” interest group, which provides inspiration and constructive feedback of women's writing. Nearly every branch has at least one book discussion group. There are too many wonderful interest groups to list but keep up the imaginative ideas!

Branch members of different ages, ethnicities and cultures also help strengthen connections and keep our branches strong. National AAUW recommends that each branch appoint a Diversity officer that spearheads the effort to recruit a diverse, inclusive membership. For more information on the role of that officer, as well as branch programs with an emphasis on diversity, a helpful resource is the online AAUW DEI toolkit. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit – AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881

AAUW has extended the grace period for those whose memberships were scheduled to end on Sept. 30. The new deadline is Oct. 31, so there’s still time to get those members renewed.

Our joint Membership/Finance Zoom meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 12 at 6:30 p.m. On our agenda will be information regarding how to nominate members for the AAUW Texas Outstanding Member and Outstanding New Member Awards. A Zoom link will be sent to Membership/Finance Officers. Anyone interested is welcome to attend, just request a Zoom link from me, [email protected].

See you in December,

Sara Wood

AAUW Texas Membership VP


RAISES $1,600

“I am speechless. On behalf of our branch, mahalo nui loa for this generous show of support.” This was the response of Pat Gotschalk, Co-President of AAUW Maui Branch, when notified that AAUW Texas had raised $1,600 to help Maui.

Shortly after the devastating August 8 wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, President Mary Smith reached out to AAUW Maui Branch inquiring how AAUW Texas could best help our AAUW sisters. She learned that only a few of AAUW Maui’s members live on the Lahaina side of the island; none had lost their homes, but they were without water and power for an extended period. 


AAUW Maui fundraises for three scholarships annually, usually in the amount of $2,000 per scholarship. They work with the University of Hawaii Foundation to fund the scholarships.


In mid-August AAUW Texas announced the collection of funds to support AAUW Maui’s scholarship fund. Through the September 30 collection period, AAUW Texas responded. Donations were received from branch members in Georgetown, North Dallas, North Harris County, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Tyler, and West Harris County.


Acknowledging receipt of the AAUW Texas donation, Joyce Yamada, professor at the University of Hawaii’s Maui College and AAUW Maui University Relations Chair, replied by email: “Thank you for your generous support of UH Maui College students impacted by the Maui wildfires. Our hearts are heavy and the road to recovery will be long, but we have faith in our collective strength to support one another and our students. We appreciate the kindness of our AAUW Texas friends.”

North Harris County Affiliate

Has a New Member

Author Kathryn Casey’s newest book, ANGEL FALLS, is inspired by the life of Texan Ruth Robertson, a photojournalist who, in 1949, mounted the expedition that successfully measured Angel Falls. Four earlier attempts led by men had failed to reach the world’s tallest waterfall. Kathy is willing to speak to branches about her experiences and about her research on “Angel Falls”.

An award-winning journalist and a critically acclaimed bestselling author, Kathryn Casey has written eleven true crime books and is the creator of the Sarah Armstrong and Clara Jefferies mystery series. Her books have been Literary and Mystery Guild selections, and DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS was made into a Lifetime movie. In addition, Casey has written more than a hundred national magazine articles and pieces for The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Houston Chronicle. In 2022, Casey was featured on the top ten Netflix limited documentary series “Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields.” She’s appeared on dozens of television and radio programs, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, 20/20, 48 Hours, Oprah, Investigation Discovery, the Travel Channel, A&E, and other venues.

Please contact Betsy Calabro at [email protected] if you are interested in having Katherine speak at your branch meeting. 

Updates from the Nominating Committee

The AAUW Texas Nominating Committee needs a few good Women! We are getting closer to a full slate of officers for the 2024-2026 biennium. Positions still open are:

West District Representative – a great introductory office for someone from Lubbock, Amarillo or El Paso branches – or an at-large member from the West District who is also an AAUW Texas member.

Membership VP – a great position for someone who is concerned about the future of our organization and is passionate about helping us grow.

President - Per our bylaws, this candidate must have a least one term’s experience on the state board.

Candidates may self-nominate. 

For more information contact Gloria Long: [email protected]



Any AAUW Texas member or Texas branch may propose amendments to the AAUW Texas bylaws. Proposed amendments should be submitted to the Bylaws Chair, Brenda Van Derbur at [email protected] by Friday, November 10, 2023.


Bylaws Amendments: The current bylaws are posted on our website at Amendments must not conflict with AAUW bylaws and mission.


Proposed bylaws amendments must include: (1) a copy of the original section of the bylaws being amended, (2) a marked-up version showing the specific wording of the amendment, (3) a clean version showing the language as it would be revised, (4) a statement of rationale for the amendment, and (5) if applicable, the fiscal impact of the amendment.

April 2024 Texas Virtual Conference:

Charting a Course Through the Challenge of Change

The AAUW Texas conference committee is planning the April 6, 2024 Virtual Conference with the theme of: Charting a Course Through the Challenge of Change. The all-virtual format will give many more members the opportunity to participate. The schedule is for two speakers, a workshop session, and a business meeting for a morning only timeline. The board has voted to again make the conference free for all AAUW Texas members, so we hope you all plan to participate.

We’re going to need your help!

We are planning 20–30-minute information sessions that will highlight branch activities or programs, community involvement, and branch continuation strategies. If your branch has a program on one of the topics below, and you are willing to share, please contact me to discuss including it in the conference. (Terry Whaley: [email protected])

  • DEI     
  • Sustainability, Succession, Planning/Leadership
  • Mission Based Programs/5 Star
  • Recruitment and Retention

Another request is for someone to assist with Zoom Meeting technology during the morning conference so the transition from each speaker is handled smoothly. Contact me if you would be able to help with this function. (Terry Whaley: [email protected])

The business meeting will include the announcement of the slate of officers for 2024-2025 and other statewide recognitions. Watch for further details on registration which will begin in early 2024. We hope to “see” you at the virtual conference. We will be offering incentives for those who “group-watch” so plan your group now.

Our confirmed speakers are:

Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi is the Sr. Associate Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology & Microbiology, Division Chief of Pediatric Tropical Medicine and Co-director of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She is an internationally recognized tropical and emerging disease vaccinologist, global health advocate and co-creator of a patent-free, open science COVID-19 vaccine technology that led to the development of CORBEVAX in India and Halal-certified INDOVAC in Indonesia, both COVID-19 vaccines suitable for global access. She pioneers and leads the advancement of a robust infectious and tropical disease vaccine portfolio tackling diseases that affect disproportionally the world’s poorest populations. As global thought-leader she has published more than 230 scientific papers, participated in more than 250 conferences worldwide and received national and international highly regarded awards. In 2022, alongside Dr. Peter Hotez, she was nominated by Texas Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Malinee Neelamegam. Assistant Professor in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of North Texas and a former AAUW National Fellowship recipient. Education & Experience: Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the National University of Malaysia. University of South Florida, MPH degree in Epidemiology and Global Health Practice and the PhD degree in Epidemiology. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University/University of Malaya focused on aging in people living with HIV. She has been a research Officer with the Ministry of Health Malaysia. Her teaching has focused on epidemiology, global health, and health disparities. School of Public Health: Foundations of Public Health, Practical Applications in Epidemiology, and Principles of Epidemiology. Research methods seminars for residents and health care workers in the U.S. and Malaysia. Mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. Professional Activities & Awards: Member of the International AIDS Society, the Gerontological Society of America, the Society for Epidemiologic Research and the American Public Health Association (APHA). Fulbright grant for graduate studies. Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian government for PhD research, which also received the Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Award. Scholarly Interests: Her research is focused on successful aging in vulnerable populations. Most of her research explores cognitive aging. She has examined the effect of prescription medication use and opioids on cognition, cancer beliefs and attitudes in older adults, and cognitive decline in people living with HIV. Her current areas of research include understanding aging in people living with HIV, and the impact of social determinants of health and adverse life experiences on successful aging. She is interested in working with underrepresented populations both locally and globally and leveraging technology and implementation science frameworks to improve models of care for older adults.




If you’re on Facebook,

we need your help!

When you see news articles, memes, or other items of interest and relevance to AAUW members on Facebook, please tag Jerrilyn Woodard-Entrekin so she can re-post and share on our AAUW-Texas Facebook page.

Feel free to send a Facebook friend request to

Jerrilyn to enable tagging. 

Elected Officers  

Mary Smith

Terry Whaley

Sara Wood

Margie Poole

Margaret Carlson

Lucy Barrington

Elected District Representatives

Betsy Calabro

Cheryl Fuller

Cheri Butler

Standing Committees

Brenda Van Derbur

Pat Rehm

Appointed Positions

Shirley Selz

Margo Johnson

Chasity Crawford

Communications Team

Malinda Gaul

Janani Janakiraman

Jerrilyn Woodard-Entrekin

Contact at:


Program VP

Membership VP


Finance Officer


South District

Central District

North District

West District


Public Policy

SHARE Grants

Branch Services

Inclusion and Equity

UWT Editor/Email Communications