TCTA leads effort to protect teacher preparation
After gaining the support of the State Board of Education in September, TCTA took the final step in a successful fight to prevent expansion of an abbreviated route into teaching at the State Board for Educator Certification's Oct. 5, 2018, meeting. 

During testimony, TCTA persuaded the SBEC board to back the original proposal it reviewed in March, ensuring that teacher preparation programs continue to require at least 150 hours of pre-service training for most certificates.

Not all ELAR teachers need ESL certification
After adopting rule changes increasing the certification requirements for teachers in bilingual or English as a Second Language programs, TEA’s Division of English Learner Support recently issued a statement to clear up some common misconceptions regarding the requirements, chiefly that not all English language arts and reading teachers need to obtain ESL certification to meet the new regulations. TEA is also allowing districts to seek waivers from the certification requirements during the 2018-19 school year.

Brady files bill to revise Social Security penalty
U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) have re-filed a late-session bill (H.R. 6933) that would revise the calculation of benefits for Texas teachers and other employees who are currently subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision. The bill also was filed in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as S. 3526.

Given that Congress is in its last several weeks of the current congressional session, the bills are unlikely to progress.

TEA seeks teachers to evaluate ELAR materials
The Texas Education Agency is seeking educators to work with its contractor, Safal Partners, to review English language arts and reading instructional materials in grades 3-8 to evaluate their quality.

Selected reviewers will receive a stipend upon successfully completing the review process as well as intensive training and ongoing professional development for which they will earn continuing professional education credit.  Eligible applicants  must  apply by Oct. 22.

Give input on revisions to social studies TEKS
The State Board of Education is seeking public comment on proposed revisions and amendments to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for social studies before its November board meeting.

Workgroups presented recommended changes to the board at its September meeting after months of review. Any adopted changes will be implemented beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Paraprofessional loses appeal after termination
A paraprofessional's job was terminated after more than 20 years of service to a district based on allegations that she used excessive force with a male student during three separate incidents over a period of nine days. The incidents were captured on a hallway monitoring camera.

The paraprofessional filed a grievance, arguing that even though she was an at-will employee without a contract, she was protected from termination in this instance due to a state law that says that a professional employee of a school district may not be subject to discipline, termination or nonrenewal for use of force when and to the degree reasonably necessary to further an educational purpose or maintain discipline. The district’s board of trustees denied the grievance. The paraprofessional then filed an appeal to the commissioner of education, who sided with the district.

23 Texas schools earn 2018 Blue Ribbon honors
The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that 23 schools nominated by the Texas Education Agency have been awarded Blue Ribbon honors for 2018.

Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a USDE program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress has been made toward closing achievement gaps among subpopulations while maintaining high achievement levels among all students. 

TEA awarded $2 million in school safety grants
Education Commissioner Mike Morath said the Texas Education Agency was awarded two Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act grants.

The federal STOP grants, worth $1 million each, will be used for mental health training in Texas school districts, Morath said. The funds also will help establish effective campus threat assessment practices across the state. The Justice Department plans to distribute $70 million in grants to help with school security and training educators in hopes of preventing violence on school campuses.

Check your mailbox for the new Survival Guide!
This year's Survival Guide was mailed to current members this week.

Our annual guide is packed with information you need about your legal rights and responsibilities, your job, your students, your benefits and more to help you throughout the 2018-19 school year.

If you don't want to wait for your copy to arrive in the mail, you can also read the Survival Guide online.

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