Morath briefs Senate panel; three education bills advance

Things got heated at the Capitol this week when House Speaker Dade Phelan informed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that the House would not take up SB 2142, which cleared the Senate in a single day as a priority bill to reverse $16 billion in electric charges during February's winter storm. While this spat wasn't directly related to education, discord among the state's top leadership can disrupt the entire legislative process.

During today's Senate Education Committee meeting, Commissioner Mike Morath presented an overview of education issues, including information about learning losses that can be attributed to COVID-19 disruptions, and about the billions of dollars in federal COVID relief funding Texas is expecting. 

In other action this week, the House Public Education Committee advanced three TCTA-supported bills for consideration by the full House. The House Pensions Committee reviewed three bills related to TRS, including one that would require a study on an alternative to TRS-Care.  

Throughout the session, you can find daily Updates from the Capitol and track key legislation related to education in our Bill Summaries.
More than 10% of Texans now vaccinated against COVID-19

The number of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 10.2% as of March 16. That number has now surpassed those infected by the virus, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. While that's good news, as is the continuing decline in infections and hospitalizations, health officials say 75% to 90% of Texans will need to be vaccinated before the state reaches herd immunity. That's about 22 million people, or the state's entire adult population since children are not yet eligible for vaccinations.

Need to schedule a vaccination appointment? School staff and child care workers can find providers and more information on the following websites:
Many school districts are also helping employees schedule vaccinations.
Share your stories with us
It's been a year like no other, and TCTA wants to know what's inspired you and kept you in the classroom (even if it's been virtual) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you found a creative way to keep virtual learners engaged? Discovered new tools to improve the way you teach? We'll share some of your experiences in the spring issue of The Classroom Teacher to highlight how resilient educators have been and how you'll continue helping students and each other with the challenges ahead. Email your stories to communications@tcta.org by April 5 for consideration.
U.S. to spend $10B to expand COVID-19 testing in schools

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will spend $10 billion to expand COVID-19 testing for schools, to aid in the president's goal to get schools nationwide open once again. The funds are part of the American Rescue Plan passed and signed last week. The funding will create screening programs to add to other safety measures in place. Click here to read more.

We have all the latest state and federal guidance in our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. This week we updated guidance on vaccines and reclassifying English learners. While this information is not legal advice, we hope it helps answer questions you may have about COVID-19's impact on schools. Members who have specific concerns or questions should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282.
TCTA wants your input on masks, vaccines
If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to complete our survey using the button below to let us know what's going on in your district regarding face mask requirements. The survey also includes a couple of questions about COVID-19 vaccinations. We'll share the results in next week's eUpdate.
Nominate education superstars for TCTA awards by April 5

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 April 5. Click here for more information and forms.
WATCH NOW: TCTA's current events update

Holly Eaton provided an update on current events during TCTA's Directors' Council meeting Feb. 25. Click here or on the video's play button to watch her presentation, which includes the latest news on accountability and assessment, the Teaching Incentive Allotment and professional development.
Need CPE? Earn 8.75 hours with our new videos

All six of the CPE sessions from TCTA's 2021 Virtual Convention on Feb. 27 and March 6 are now available for on-demand viewing in the Online CPE tab in the member portal. Watch them all for 8.75 hours of CPE credit.
  • Inspired Educator, Engaged & Connected Learner
  • National Board Certification Recognition and Compensation
  • Legislative & Current Events Update
  • Legal Session Q&A
  • Design & Plan for Hybrid Learning
  • Hollywood vs. Science

Click here to log in, watch the sessions and print/save CPE certificates. Any handouts or resources you'll need to follow along can be found under the video player for each session. Be sure to click the link under "Available Action" to record and log the session so you can reprint your certificate later.
Voting now open for TRS board

Voting is underway for the election of the Public School District Employee position on the TRS Board of Trustees. The top three candidates will be presented to the governor to fil the position. Voting ends May 5. Click here for more information.
Apply for Fulbright teacher exchange program by March 24

Applications are due March 24 for Fulbright Teacher Exchanges, which provide K-12 educators with opportunities to expand their global education horizons. Participants spend two or three weeks in another country learning more about its education system. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day.
  • Easter is April 4.
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