Districts face tech glitches as school begins
School is back in session for nearly all districts across Texas. Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs reported technology glitches as virtual learning began Tuesday in the state's largest cities, mirroring issues several smaller districts had in August. Many districts that started distance learning last month welcomed students for in-person instruction after Labor Day.

As students return to classrooms, cases of COVID-19 in schools are being reported nationwide, with data showing more than 500,000 children in the U.S. have tested positive since March. TEA now requires superintendents to submit weekly reports about positive cases among students and staff. This data will be added to the state's COVID-19 dashboard this month, and many districts also are posting information about confirmed cases on their websites.

On Sept. 3, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told state school officials she is unlikely to grant requests for waivers from federal accountability and testing requirements this year. Her comments align with TEA's stance that STAAR testing will be required in the spring, despite any disruptions COVID-19 may have on learning. TCTA continues to advocate for the state to suspend STAAR testing and the use of A-F grading for districts and campuses for the 2020-21 school year.

Follow the rules or it's lights out for football
UIL warned 1A-4A schools to follow its COVID-19 risk mitigation rules or risk having fall sports suspended or canceled after reports of too many fans in the stands at football games not wearing masks or social distancing. Texas 5A and 6A schools were allowed to begin practice this week for fall sports.

Check out the newest updates to our COVID-19 FAQs on 2020-21 Education Issues. This week we:
  • Updated the FAQs on Health Guidance to include reporting requirements and guidance on positive cases.
  • Updated the FAQs on Attendance to reflect TEA guidance on funding for asynchronous instruction for students without internet access.
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 to speak with a staff attorney.
Earn 6 CPE hours with TEA's online Project Restore training

Teachers can earn up to 6 continuing professional education hours by completing TEA's Project Restore courses online. The trauma-informed training videos are designed to help educators meet their emotional needs and the needs of their students during the coronavirus pandemic.
State Board of Education considers charter schools, sex ed, and science changes

During its meeting this week, the State Board of Education heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses who urged the board to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the new health curriculum, which is being revised for the first time since 1998. The proposed revisions do not address LGBTQ issues, but the board is considering requiring that middle schoolers be taught about sexually transmitted infections, birth control options and consensual sex.

Board members also heard testimony on proposed science curriculum changes, with many witnesses urging inclusion of information on climate change. Final approval of revisions to the health and science curriculum is expected during the board's November meeting.

In other action, the board is expected to vote Friday on whether to approve eight new charter schools, as recommended by Commissioner Morath. TCTA signed on to a letter with 19 other groups, urging board members to deny the applications due to concerns over charter school funding. The meeting can be viewed here, and we will share updates on this vote tomorrow on Facebook, Twitter and our website.
Teacher claims unlawful termination after reporting inappropriate, illegal conduct

A teacher filed a lawsuit against his former school district, alleging that he had been unlawfully terminated as retaliation for reporting inappropriate and illegal conduct by school district employees. The district filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the teacher had a probationary contract that had been terminated at the end of the school year. The teacher's remedy to challenge that termination was to file a grievance and he had not done so. Therefore, the lawsuit should be dismissed, the district said. A district court agreed and dismissed the case, but the court of appeals ordered the case returned to the district court for trial. Click here to read more.
TCTA congratulates 2021 Teachers of the Year

The Texas Association of School Administrators announced the six finalists for the 2021 Texas Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year Awards, along with the 40 regional winners this week.

Finalists for 2021 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year:
  • Eric Hale, David G. Burnet Elementary School, Dallas ISD
  • Alexis Miller, Southridge Elementary School, Lewisville ISD
  • Lisa Barry, Woodridge Elementary School, Alamo Heights ISD

Finalists for 2021 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year:
  • Ida Cisneros, Frenship Middle School, Frenship ISD
  • Anthony Lopez-Waste, Canutillo High School, Canutillo ISD
  • Adriana Abundis, Lanier High School, San Antonio ISD

The state winners will be announced during TASA's virtual convention on Sept. 30. TCTA congratulates all these outstanding educators, especially our five members who are being recognized this year:
  • Tammy Reyes, Vickers Elementary School, Victoria ISD
  • Bill Williamson, C.O. Wilson Middle School, Nederland ISD
  • Allison Peterson, Lake View High School, San Angelo ISD
  • Haley Kirk, Westwind Elementary School, Frenship ISD
  • Pedro Gurrola, Vista Del Sol Elementary School, Socorro ISD

ACLU warns 500 districts to change dress codes

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to nearly 500 Texas public school districts last week asking them to revise dress code policies requiring different hair lengths for male and female students that it says are “unconstitutional and discriminatory.” The letter calls policies “outdated” and “harmful” and claims such rules could leave districts open to lawsuits. Click here to read more.
Recruit your colleagues with Take 2/Make $25
We put together this video of the Top 10 Reasons to Join TCTA. Share it with your colleagues and encourage them to join TCTA. You could earn $25 for every two eligible Active-level members you recruit. Our applications are paperless this year, so ask your coworkers to enter your TCTA member number in the Take 2 box on the online form to ensure you receive credit.

Have you renewed your TCTA membership yet?
Don't go unprotected, renew by Sept. 30 to avoid a lapse in coverage!
If you have already renewed, thank you! Membership cards are being mailed twice a week as forms are processed, but the U.S. Post Office is experiencing some delays in delivery. Please allow 2-3 weeks for your card to arrive.
  • Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
  • The TRS Board meets Sept. 16-18.
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