Major bills in limbo as action slows down in Legislature

The House and Senate appear to have begun a standoff, with key bills in one chamber being held until particular legislation passes in the other. Despite entering the final days of the session (which ends May 31), the House adjourned on Thursday until Sunday, losing two days of work at a point in the session when time is precious.
One issue causing a delay is concern over the proposed final version of the state budget. This proposal removes a provision unanimously adopted in the House that would have specifically prohibited spending any federal relief funds without legislative approval. Gov. Abbott released a statement Thursday assuring lawmakers that he would add the issue of federal funding to the anticipated fall special session on redistricting. It remains to be seen whether his promise "so the entire legislature can participate in the allocation process in a way that best serves all Texans" is enough to make legislators vote for the proposed version of SB 1. Click here to see some of the education bills that have been held up by the delays.

Earlier in the week:
  • The Senate State Affairs Committee gave approval to a controversial civics education bill after amending the House version.
  • Another controversial bill essentially creating a voucher program for special education services was amended to remove objectionable provisions before the House Public Education Committee approved it.
  • The full Senate approved SB 2094, with bonus funding based on the STAAR performance of students receiving accelerated instruction.

Keep checking our daily Updates from the Capitol for the latest news.
Provide your input on state's use of federal school funds

Today is the deadline to provide input to TEA as it develops a plan for use of about $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act ESSER III state-level discretionary funds. Click here to see the feedback TCTA submitted on ways to mitigate unfinished learning. Click here to take TEA's survey by 5 p.m. today.

TEA is also seeking input on its state-level plan that must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by June 7 to collect the remaining third of the state's $12 billion allocation in ESSER III funds. Teachers can offer feedback during a webinar at 4 p.m. Monday. Space is limited to 2,975 people. Click here to register and receive email confirmation with access codes.
Texas schools can't require face masks after June 4

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order this week prohibiting governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating face mask wearing. Though public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4, many districts have already eased requirements as COVID-19 cases decline and more people are vaccinated.

Individuals are, of course, still allowed to wear masks. Abbott's order does not apply to businesses or other private entities, so be sure to keep following posted rules for stores and other places you visit.

This week, we updated our COVID-19 FAQs to reflect the latest guidance on face masks and requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.
Join Persie tomorrow to talk about membership

We hope you can make time to join Persie Ngo-Hatchie, TCTA's director of membership, at 10 a.m. Saturday for the next Saturday Spotlight on Zoom. She 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 a chance to provide input and time for questions.

Texas Supreme Court backs university's dismissal of law student with low GPA

The Texas Supreme Court considered a lawsuit in which a university dismissed a law student for failure to maintain a 2.0 GPA. The issue in the case was whether the student was entitled to a hearing or opportunity to appeal the dismissal. The court decided the student had been given sufficient opportunity to challenge his dismissal and his grade in a class where a cheating allegation occurred. Click here to read 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.
Five Texas students named Presidential Scholars in 2021

Five Texas students are among this year's class of 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars. The program recognizes students for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields. The Texas students are:
  • Christian Tamez, Del Rio High School, Del Rio
  • Sarah Grace Kimberly, The High School for Performing & Visual Arts, Houston
  • Labiba Uddin, Dr. Justin Wakeland High School, Frisco
  • Derek Pan Wong, Keystone School, San Antonio
  • Sneha Sunil Shenoy, Klein High School, Klein

SBOE seeks nominees for Heroes for Children by July 1

Nominations are being accepted through 5 p.m. July 1 for the State Board of Education's Heroes for Children program, which honors volunteers in public schools. Click here for forms and more on requirements.
  • 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.
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