Budget proposals in Senate, House fully fund education

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed the budget bill this week, advancing it for consideration by the full Senate, most likely next week. SB 1 fully funds the HB 3 school finance commitment and adds $3.1 billion to cover enrollment growth. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee adopted recommendations from a subcommittee that included the TEA and TRS budgets.

The budget proposals do not include any federal funds from the latest rounds of pandemic relief that the state is expected to receive. But members of both committees have begun asking questions about those funds, which total more than $17 billion for Texas public schools: Where are those dollars, and why aren’t we including them in the state budget? Click here to read what we know about those funds right now.

In other action this week:
  • The House Public Education Committee held a lengthy meeting Tuesday, taking testimony on several bills. HB 1468, which would provide funding for virtual learning beyond the pandemic, contains a TCTA-supported provision that would prohibit teachers from being responsible for in-person and virtual learners simultaneously.
  • The House passed two bills that would help some students and teachers moving to Texas.
Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
Register to vote today to be eligible for May 1 elections

Today (April 1) is the deadline to register to vote in the May 1 municipal elections. Many school districts will elect board members in May, and several have bond proposals on the ballot. Early voting is April 19-27, and applications for a ballot by mail must be received by April 20. Click here to find out if you are registered. If you're not, click here to fill out the application and mail it to your county election office today.
Nominations are due Monday for TCTA awards!

TCTA's statewide awards honor those who have made outstanding contributions to public education, the teaching profession or TCTA during the past year. Categories for members include:
  • Leader of the Year
  • Faculty Representative of the Year
  • Paraprofessional of the Year
  • Retiree of the Year
We'll also honor an Administrator of the Year, name a Friend of Education in the Private Citizen category and bestow the Silver Apple Media Award.

Nominations are due Monday. Click here for more information and forms.
Pfizer says vaccine shows 100% efficacy in ages 12-15

COVID-19 vaccinations for adolescents may begin before the start of the 2021-22 school year. Pfizer-BioNTech has released results of recent trials that show its vaccine elicits "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in children ages 12-15. Pfizer said it plans to submit data to the FDA in the coming weeks to seek authorization for the vaccine's use in adolescents. Clinical trials are underway to test the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in children as young as 6 months, and Johnson & Johnson plans to begin testing its vaccine in children soon. Health officials say children will need to be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to help the U.S. reach herd immunity.

In other pandemic news this week:
We want your input!
TCTA is looking for members willing to share their experiences during the pandemic in the spring issue of The Classroom Teacher. What has inspired or motivated you to keep teaching (or counseling, or working as a paraprofessional, librarian, school nurse or substitute) this year? How did you engage virtual learners or adapt to wearing masks and social distancing in the classroom? Have you learned anything that will make you a better educator in the future? To be included, email communications@tcta.org by Monday and share a little about what this school year has been like in your school district.
TEA seeks input on English learners as it develops plan

TEA and the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University are developing a plan to improve English learner success in Texas schools. TCTA members who teach English learners, who teach in schools with large EL populations or who are passionate about supporting English learners can help by completing this 10-minute survey by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, April 4. Any information shared by researchers will not identify survey participants. Those who complete the survey will be entered in a drawing for a gift card.
Texas Loves Teachers Tour underway, register for prizes

H-E-B is showing its support for educators with the Texas Loves Teachers Tour, giving away $20,000 in H-E-B gift cards each week as it stops at 50 schools. During a virtual tribute gala on May 8, H-E-B will give away $100,000 in cash prizes to educators across Texas through a random drawing. For your chance to win, sign up at texaslovesteachers.com. H-E-B is also accepting nominations for its Excellence in Education Awards, which will resume in 2022.
USDE expands pause on student loan interest, debt collections

The U.S. Department of Education has expanded the pause on federal student loan interest and collections to all defaulted loans in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said this action will help more than one million additional borrowers burdened by debt during the COVID-19 emergency. Click here to read more.
  • Easter is Sunday, April 4. (TCTA Headquarters will be closed Friday, April 2, and Monday, April 5.)
  • The State Board of Education meets April 13-16.
  • The TRS Board meets April 15-16.
  • The State Board for Educator Certification meets April 30.
  • Voting ends May 5 in the TRS election for the Public School District Employee position on the TRS Board of Trustees.
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