Education bills still in play as the session winds down

With the last day of the session (May 31) just over two weeks away, our list of more than 800 education-related bills has been narrowed considerably. Click here for a look at the good and not-so-good proposals that are still in play – but note that bills can still change significantly in the final days of the session.

Thursday was the last day the House could debate House bills. Here's a look at some education items they passed and sent to the Senate. These bills related to student testing also passed in the House this week.

Earlier in the week, House Public Education Committee Chair Harold Dutton lost a vote on HB 4545, which addressed accelerated learning. But he revived the bill, and it got House approval Thursday.

Next week, the House will focus on Senate bills as the Senate works on House measures. Many bills that pass both chambers will be sent to conference committees to work out differences, while others will head straight to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Keep checking our daily Updates from the Capitol for the latest news.
TEA seeks input on state's use of federal school funds

TEA is seeking input from educators and other stakeholders as it develops a plan for use of about $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act ESSER III state-level discretionary funds. As TCTA reported in eUpdate last week, the other $11.2 billion from ESSER III will be sent directly to school districts through grants administered by TEA. Click here to take TEA's survey by 5 p.m. May 21.

This week, we also updated our COVID-19 FAQs with the latest news on federal funding for schools.
CDC relaxes face mask rules for fully vaccinated people

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated people can safely resume many activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The news comes as more school districts are making plans to relax mask use, allowing students to take them off outside now, and saying they'll be optional for summer sessions. (Be sure you continue to follow your district's face mask policy, regardless of your vaccination status.)

Pfizer vaccine OK for age 12 and older
COVID-19 vaccines are now available for ages 12 and older as the FDA gave emergency-use authorization to Pfizer's vaccine this week, clearing it for immediate use in ages 12 to 15. (The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only authorized for ages 18 and older.) With about 32% of Texans fully vaccinated, adding adolescents to the mix will help the state reach herd immunity faster, officials said. It also means the 2021-22 school year could look more like normal, especially if vaccination rates continue to increase over the summer and COVID-19 cases remain under control.

That's good news, since a recent study found that opening schools for in-person instruction accelerated the spread of COVID-19 in Texas last fall. Researchers said the additional cases they tracked after students began returning to schools represented 12% of the state’s total cases during the eight weeks after reopening in the fall, and 17% of deaths.
Read our spring magazine now

TCTA's Spring 2021 issue of The Classroom Teacher was mailed to members this week. For this issue, several members shared how they adapted to the challenges of teaching in a pandemic, and TCTA State President Twila Read shared her experience during a year like no other. We've also got more on COVID-19 vaccines, planning for retirement, a look at the challenges of the legislative session, an update on the Teaching Incentive Allotment and more.

Spring enrollment underway!

Before the school year ends, take time to renew your membership for the 2021-22 school year. Pay your dues now with a credit/debit card or PayPal, or sign up to continue payroll deduction and relax this summer, knowing your coverage will continue in the fall. You can also encourage your colleagues to join TCTA, though their legal coverage won't begin until Aug. 1, 2021, or the date they join, whichever is later. For every two eligible members you recruit, you can earn $25 through our Take 2/Make $25 program.
Get membership recruiting updates on Saturday, May 22

Sign up now and join us at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 22, for the next Saturday Spotlight on Zoom. Persie Ngo-Hatchie, TCTA's director of membership, will talk about spring sign-ups, summer training workshops and plans for recruiting in the fall. Local affiliate officers, faculty representatives and members interested in getting more involved in recruiting colleagues to TCTA are encouraged to attend this free, hourlong session, which will include time for questions.

TRS warns of phishing scam

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas is warning educators of a potential scam that it wants employers and members to avoid. Some employers have informed TRS that they’ve received suspicious emails that appear to be from TRS, but are not. Some of these emails have gone to teachers, offering to review an individual’s retirement benefits. These emails are not from TRS, but from a suspected third-party financial institution that may be targeting your retirement savings. Click here to read more.
Free wellness webinar May 19 outlines ways to avoid burnout

In an interactive and highly engaging webinar, Tim Kanold and Tina Boogren premiere their new research-affirmed Professional Wellness for Educators framework by outlining four dimensions of professional wellness (physical, mental, emotional, and social) thoughtfully designed to avoid burnout and inspire practical daily routines for a healthy, balanced, and meaningful professional life. The free webinar is at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and a recording will be sent to those unable to watch live. Click here to register.
Washington Post offering $1 subscriptions for educators

The Washington Post is offering educators and students digital subscriptions for $1 per month using this special link. The offer ends May 31.
  • May 31 is Memorial Day and the last day of the 87th Legislative Session.
  • June 15 is the deadline for first-year teachers to complete TEA's survey.
PO BOX 1489 AUSTIN, TX 78767 | 888-879-8282 | TCTA.ORG